What are the Must-Have Khada Masala Ingredients?

I know what spices go into Khada Masala, where each spice goes, and in what quantity… How do I know all this? Let me feel proud for a moment!

I have years of experience buying Indian Spices and using them in several recipes. I also know what spices you must have in your kitchen cabinet and what can be overlooked to save money. So to help you save money and pick only the right herbs for your Khada Masala recipes, I’ve compiled this guide.

Besides educating you about these spices’ uses and helping you choose the right Khada Masala ingredients, I’ll help you know what quantity of these ingredients you should buy. Read this complete guide…

What Does Khada Masala Mean?

Khada means “whole,” and masala means “Spices.” Somehow, it is also comprehended as ‘un-sauteed or raw spices.’ Hence, Khada Masala is a mixture of whole spices used in various vegetarian or non-vegetarian dishes.

Must-Have Khada Masala Spices

There are as many as 70 whole spices. Yet, a few make Khada Masala.

Among them, a few, again, are a must-have. You might love to make a collection of all these spices, yet, because of their limited use, they’ll only be a waste of money, nothing else!

So, here we’ve listed only must-have Khada Masala spices that you can have and use in your recipes. You can make all blends of these spices based on your recipes. However, having a more natural, additive, and gluten-free masala for your recipes would be best.

SpiceQuantity in PercentApproximate Quantity
Coriander Seeds  100%1000 grm
Cumin – 100% 100%1000 grm
Bay leaf  –  5% 5%50 grm
Bay leaf  –  5% 10% 100 grm
Cardamom (black) 10%100 grm
Cloves  – 10% 10%100 grm
Carom seeds 10%100 grm
Black pepper 20%200 grm
Casia 10%100 grm
Cinnamon 10%100 grm
Dried Ginger  10%100 grm
Fennel Seeds  25%250 grm
Fenugreek Seeds   25%250 grm
Mustard seeds  25%250 grm
Nutmeg  0.25%25 grm
Mace 0.25%25 grm
Red Chilies 10%100 grm
Star Anise 5%50 grm
Saffron  0.25%25 grm
Nigella Seeds   10%100 grm

Khada Masala Spice List with Details

There are many spices used to make Khada masala. Some of them are mentioned here for you.

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1. Bay Leaf – Taiz Patta

Bay Leaves are Bay Laurels from Turkey and are also produced in California. Bay leaves are commonly used in cooking and grilling as well. 

They’re intensely aromatic and have a sharp, bitter taste. Their fragrance is more prominently noticeable than its taste. 

Bay leaves are a source of Vitamin A & C, Potassium, Calcium, and Magnesium. They can be used in either whole or ground form. You can use the Bay Leaf in the following:

  • Curries
  • Biryani
  • Pulao
  • Soups
  • Stews

2. Cardamom – Green or Black Alaichi

Cardamom is known for its intense flavor and fragrance as well. This spice is very much a potent addition to any spice rack. 

As for taste, it primarily depends on whether it’s Green or Black Cardamom.

Green cardamom produces a zesty citrus flavor that can be sweet and spicy simultaneously. 

On the other hand, Black Cardamom has an almost smokey, minty, and menthol-like flavor. Cardamom helps with digestion as well. You can use black or green cardamom in:

  • Beverages (Coffee & Tea)
  • Curries
  • Sweet Dishes
  • Meat Dishes
  • Baked Items
  • Stews

3. Black Pepper – Kali Mirch

The name ‘Pepper’ comes from the Sanskrit word for the plant Pippali. Black pepper is probably the most widespread spice globally and is also called the King of Spices.

Black pepper is a dried unripe berry picked off of the vine just before it ripens and has the most potent flavor. Black pepper holds a complex flavor profile of piney, citrusy and intense simultaneously. The uses of black pepper are just too numerous to list off, so you can use this universal spice in almost all savory dishes like:

  • Salad Dressing
  • Sauces
  • Meat dishes
  • Curries
  • Soups
  • Vegetable dishes
  • Stir-fries
  • Seasoning

4. Carom Seeds – Ajwain

Carom seeds are tiny, pale-brown, relatively round schizocarps of Trachyspermum ammi, also known as Ajwain–an annual seasoning in the Apiaceae family. Ajwain tastes like oregano, has a bitter and dominant flavor, and is highly fragrant, precisely like thyme. 

Its solid aromatic essence is incredibly nutritious and highly rich in various vitamins, fibers, antioxidants, and minerals. Ajwain seeds are mainly used as a spice in Indian cooking. You can utilize the Ajwain seeds in the following: 

  • Pickles
  • Vegetable dishes
  • Herbal Tea
  • Snacks and Biscuits
  • Soups
  • Fish making
  • Bread making
  • Fruits or salads

5. Cassia – Kattha

Also called Chinese Cinnamon, Cassia is a spice produced from the inner bark of the Cinnamomum Verum tree, mainly grown in Central Asia. 

It has a deep reddish-brown color and an intense and less delicate flavor. It has been used as an ingredient in traditional recipes. 

Chinese medicines and herbal teas are known to have countless health benefits. Cassia is frequently used as a substitute for cinnamon and is a better choice for savory dishes. You can use Cassia in:

  • Soups
  • Teas
  • Curries
  • Meat
  • Hot chocolate

6. Cinnamon – Darchini

A fragrant Spice, Cinnamon, is the bark of the trees grown in the green forests of Sri Lanka. Its surface is golden-yellowish, with the characteristic odor of cinnamon and a very hot, sweet, and aromatic taste. 

At first glance, it seems that cassia and cinnamon are the same. The former is light in color. Likewise, the two have different smells.

Cinnamon is packed with powerful antioxidants and provides several health benefits when consumed consistently. Cinnamon is used as a flavor additive in a wide variety of cuisines and sweet-savory dishes like:

  • Baking
  • Rice dishes
  • Tea
  • Chocolate
  • Curries
  • Meat dishes
  • Soups
  • Broths
  • Stews

7. Coriander Seeds – Sukha Dhania

Coriander is one of the earliest spices used by humankind. It’s the dried seeds of the Coriandrum Sativum plant, grown in Central Asia and Eastern Europe, and is commonly used to flavor international dishes. 

It has a lemony-citru flavor that is great for savory dishes and recipes. Coriander adds a perfect texture to the dishes. You can use coriander seeds in making salty dishes, like:

  • Pickles
  • Sausages
  • Curries
  • Baked items
  • Soup
  • Raita
  • Stews

8. Cloves – Long

Cloves are dried nail-shaped flower buds of the tree Syzygium Aromaticum, native to the Banda Islands of Indonesia. Everybody loves cloves because they are the major flavoring component in Indian dishes. 

They’re aromatic and spicy; the sensation is closer to that of hot cinnamon. Cloves are used in savory dishes, desserts, and drinks such as:

  • Sauces
  • Meat dishes
  • Biryani
  • Pulao
  • Rice dishes
  • Pumpkin-pie
  • Mulled-wine
  • Cider
  • Tea

9. Cumin Seeds – Zeera

Cumin is a well-known spice used in cooking cuisines worldwide and is the backbone of several dishes. It’s the dried seed of the herb Cuminum cyminum, a parsley family member. 

Cumin seeds have a bright, earthy, slightly spicy flavor and are naturally a rich source of Iron. Highly spiced foods owe a lot to this herb. It pairs insanely well with the following:

  • Grilled Meat
  • Stews
  • Rice dishes
  • Steaks
  • Sausages
  • Gravies 
  • Spicy Soups
  • Pasta 

10. Dried Ginger – Sonth

Dried ginger is the most widely used spice of the family Zingiberaceae. It is a fine off-whitish powder with a powerful aroma and is hot and intense. 

Dried ginger comes from fresh ginger, dried before being used. It has a spicy ‘zingy’ flavor and is commonly used as a spice in cooking cuisines and as a natural medicine to cure diseases. Dried ginger has powerful health benefits as compared to fresh ginger. Dried ginger powder is used in the kitchen to make:

  • Gravies
  • Curries
  • Marinades
  • Ginger powder tea
  • Variety of baked dishes
  • Stews
  • Rice dishes

Note: Though the dried ginger is a part of Khada Masala, we’ll advise you to buy it in shredded or ground form to be more practical with your recipes.

11. Fennel Seeds

The botanical name of fennel seeds is Foeniculum Vulgare belonging to the Parsley family. The tiny seeds are the dried seeds of the fennel plant. 

These aromatic fennel seeds come with rich nutrients. Fennel Seeds have very mild anise or licorice flavor. 

It is one of the most sought-after ingredients in many popular cuisines all over the Mediterranean Region. So, if you do not have fennel seeds in your spice cabinet, I think you should really… You can use Fennel seeds in the following:

  • Sausages
  • Fennel Tea
  • Pickel
  • Bread
  • Cakes
  • Desserts
  • Rice dishes like Pulao

12. Fenugreek Seeds – Methi Dana

Fenugreek is known for its tangy, pleasantly bitter, and pungent taste, which smells and tastes like maple syrup. These seeds are a go-to spice in Indian and Middle Eastern cuisines. 

Fenugreek seeds are used as a flavoring agent in foods, drinks, and tobacco and are also thought to offer health benefits. You can use the finely powdered fenugreek seeds to flavor the dishes of your choice. I prefer you to use fenugreek seeds in the following:

  • Soups
  • Sauces
  • Vegetable Dishes
  • Curry

13. Mustard Seeds

Mustard Seeds are a potent ingredient of Indian and American cuisines that are pretty mellow-tasting, spicy, and sweet. These tiny seeds have many health benefits as they are a rich source of fiber, minerals, and Omega-3s. Mustard seeds work perfectly to kick up the flavors of dishes like:

  • Potatoes
  • Seafood
  • Chicken food
  • Salad
  • Pickles
  • Legumes

13. Nutmeg – Javitari

Nutmeg is the seed inside the fruit of the Myristica fragrans tree, which is native to the Spice Island of Indonesia. Nutmeg is used for flavoring dishes, as (and in) medicine, and as a preserving agent. 

It has a distinctly sweet, nutty, warm, and woody aroma. Nutmeg is a complimentary spice in many culinary preparations. Its warm and nutty flavor pairs well with many sweet as well as savory foods like:

  • Soups
  • Stews
  • Desserts
  • Baked goods
  • Vegetables
  • Stewed Fruits
  • Pasta
  • Eggnog

Note: Though Nutmeg is part of Khada Masala, we’d advise you to buy it in shredded or ground form to be more practical with your recipes. WHY? Nutmeg is used in small quantities only, i.e., a few pinches are enough.

15. Mace – Jaifal

Mace is the outer layer of nut mag. It’s yellow and has a sweet, woody, but sharp, cinnamon-like taste. So, while termed explicitly as part of spices, it does not have a spicy or hot flavor. Yet it compliments all other spices. A small quantity of mace, e.g., only one pinch, is enough.

You can use mace in dishes, like:

  • Deserts
  • Fish
  • Rice (biryani or pulao)
  • Meat dishes like korma

Note: Though mace is a part of Khada Masala, we’d advise you to use it in shredded or ground form to be more practical with your recipes. This is because you only need it in tiny quantities, like 1-2 pinch.

16. Red Chilies

India is home to some of the world’s spiciest chili varieties. Red chilies have a complex range of flavors that taste hot and spicy and contain tiny grains. You can use red chilies as a spice or spice blend to add piquancy and flavor to culinary dishes like:

  • Sauces
  • Meat
  • Salads
  • Vegetables
  • Rice dishes
  • Pasta
  • Grilled food

17. Star Anise 

The name of the star-shaped Khada Masala ingredient is ‘Star Anise.’ It’s a dry star-shaped fruit of the  Illicium Verum plant. It has a robust distinct flavor that is warm, sweet, zesty, and similar to licorice in taste. 

Star Anise is used in almost all kinds of cooking. There are three remarkable characteristics that make this spice worth knowing about. Because of its sweet and spicy flavor, Star Anise is perfect for adding to several sweet and savory dishes like:

  • Desserts
  • Stews
  • Meat dishes
  • Soups
  • Gravies
  • Biryani
  • Pulao
  • Star anise tea

18. Saffron – Kesar

Saffron comes from the Saffron Crocus flower, a member of the iris family. Saffron is the dehydrated or dried stigma of the flower. 

It is considered one of the world’s most expensive spices, treasured for its rich and distinct chemical components. Its signature flavor is often characterized as slightly sweet and floral, with a bit of honey flavor. It also adds a yellow color to your food. The saffron can go into specific royal-style dishes like:

  • Broths
  • Bread
  • Marinades
  • Milk and cream
  • Desserts
  • Eggs
  • Pasta
  • Stew
  • Seafood
  • Chicken recipes
  • Biryani

19. Nigella Seeds – Kalonji

Nigella seeds are crunchy and have a burnt onion flavor. Many people use the wrong names for little black nigella seeds, like onion seeds or black cumin. 

They’re known as kalonji in India and Charnushka in the United States. However, except for flavor, they have no resemblance to cumin, caraway, or onions and are unique.

In India, they are dry roasted and used over flatbreads like naan, cookies, and recipes like “Achar Gosht.” 

They pair well with other spicy dishes, potatoes, and root vegetables. That’s why they’re an essential part of Indian pickle spices: fennel seeds, mustard seeds, nigella, and fenugreek seeds.

Khada Masala vs. Garam Masala: What is the Difference?

Khada Masala and Garam Masala seem quite similar at first glance if you do not know the ingredient list of these Masalas.

Is there any difference between Khada Masala and Garam Masala? 

The answer is YES!

Because many aspects differentiate these two spices from each other, let’s go over the dissimilarities between these two. 

Blends are different.

The primary difference between Khada Masala and garam masala is, 

Khada masala is a collection of all the whole species used in Indian dishes. Yet, since not all spices can go in every dish, you must choose the suitable ones and create a blend that suits your dish. 

For instance, Khada Masala for Biryani or Pulao will be different than that used for “Khada Masala Qeema” or “Kadhi (an Indian dish made of curd and gram flour).”

Garam Masala, on the other hand, is a selection of a few spices from the Khada Masala ingredients that are ground and can go in many dishes as a seasoning. It’s the sort of universal blend created to go into almost all salty dishes.

The names are different.

As its name implies, KHADA MASALA (or Whole Spices in English) is a generic name for whole hot sizzling spices. In contrast, GARAM MASALA is a unique combination of different herbs and spices available in powdered form. It can be made from many different spices and used alone or with other seasonings.

Cooking techniques are different.

When it comes to cooking technique, while preparing the dish, you’ll need to either stir-fry or roast Khara Masalas at a low flame to extract the flavors from the whole spices.

Cooking cuisine using garam masala doesn’t require roasting of spices. You can use and add Garam Masala directly while cooking. It’s better to use garam masala in the final stage.

Storage is different.

There are a lot of myths and questions about masala like:

  • Does masala expire? 
  • How do you store it?

Yes, the storage of spices is a significant aspect that makes these two masalas different. You can easily store Khada Masala in airtight containers for months and use it; it won’t lose the flavor at all.

But when you store Garam Masala, it loses some of its taste and aroma after some time. It doesn’t matter what kind of storing bottles you use to keep this powder. So always use it fresh because freshly ground spices take Indian cooking to the next level.


Another differentiating factor you can say is Pricing. To customize the Khada Masala, you must buy each ingredient separately to create a blend that suits your dish. It’ll cost you two times. 

In contrast, you can buy garam masala as ground, which will be less expensive. 

How can you Grind Khada Masala at home?

You can grind the Masalas using an electric spice grinder, a mortar & pestle, a blender, and a food processor or coffee grinder.

A spice grinder helps crush and quickly grind the spices, nuts, and seeds into powder. It is not much different than a coffee bean grinder. Moreover, you can also use a coffee bean grinder for grinding your spices. A spice grinder is best if you need a finely grounded spice blend.

Should you Dry Roast Khada Masala Before Grinding?

While spices are naturally aromatic, heating encourages these scented oils to express their fragrance. It is suggested to roast KHADA MASALA before use because:  

  • It lessens the moistness of spices and makes the grinding easy;
  • Reduces moisture and ensures longer shelf life;
  • Makes the spices crispy; and
  • Reduces the raw flavor.

How can you do it?

Just Dry the Masalas in a pan, and keep stirring frequently to prevent burning. Now grind it, and your powdered masala is ready.

How Should You Use Khada Masala in Your Dishes?

You can add Khada Masala to your recipe at the roasting or sauteing stage as a whole. Yet, you have to separate the large spices like cloves, cardamom, and cinnamon while eating your food. It becomes pretty annoying. To prevent it, you can either exclude the pre-mentioned spices when your food is ready or use them in your dishes after binding them in a cotton cloth.

What Spices Should You Include in Khada Masala for Biryani?

Biryani is not just a food; it’s an emotion. It’s one of the signature dishes of Indian cuisine. The difference between a biryani cooked in India and elsewhere in the world is the choice of spices. 

Biryani has its own spice blend. So, the traditional Briyani doesn’t demand ready-made powdered masalas in it. Well, there is nothing wrong with purchasing a store-bought packet. But when you add the whole garam masala spices to the hot oil, the flavors jump out at you because they make the aroma infused in the Biryani. So let’s get started!

The list of Khada Masalas for the recipe for Biryani of ½ kg rice: 
  • 4 cloves
  • 2 star anise 
  • 1 tbsp black pepper
  • 1 pinch of mace
  • 1-inch cinnamon sticks
  • 2-3 bay leaf
  • 2-3 black cardamom
  • 1 tsp black cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp regular cumin seeds
  • 2-3 green cardamoms  

You can use these spices as whole or in ground form.

How Can You Make Khada Masala for “Chicken Khada Masala?”

Who doesn’t love a deliciously meaty, creamy, and full of spices? Well, it is one of my favorites. It has a mouth-watering flavor. Let’s move on to the essential spice ingredients of Chicken Khada Masala.

Here’s the list of Khada Masala ingredients to go in the 1 kg chicken recipe:
  • 1 tbsp coriander Seeds
  • 1 tsp black pepper 
  • 4 cloves
  • 4 whole red chilies
  • 2 black cardamom
  • 1 tbsp cumin seeds
  • 1-inch cinnamon sticks
  • 2-3 green cardamom
  • 2-3 bay leaves

You can use them as whole or ground.

How Can You Make Khada Masala for “Achar Gosht Masala.”

Achar Gosht is another popular spicy and acidic dish prepared with chicken or mutton and whole spices used in achar (Indian Pickle). Though ready-made Achar Gosht masala is available in stores, you can prepare authentic Achar Gosht using homemade Achar Gosht Masala.

Here’s the list of Khada Masala ingredients to go in the 1 kg chicken recipe:
  • 1 tbsp mustard seeds
  • 4-6 whole red chilies
  • 1 tbsp cumin seeds
  • 2-3 green cardamom
  • 2 tbsp dry coriander
  • 1 tbsp fennel seeds
  • 1 tbsp fenugreek seeds
  • 1 tsp nigella seeds

These spices go as whole in your recipe. Grinding them is less advisable.

What Spices Go in Khada Masala for Mutton Khada Masala or Khada Masala Keema?

Mutton Stew or Mutton Khada Masala is a famous North Indian mutton dish made with whole spices. This dish is all about the aroma of Indian spices, which gives you a tasteful plate of mutton. 

Whole spices are used in this flavorful gravy that goes well with naans. This dish is super crispy, spicy, and delicious; you should try it too.

Khada Masala ingredients for 1 kg mutton recipe:
  • 4-6 Kashmiri Red Chili 
  • 1 tbsp Black Pepper 
  • 2-3 Green Cardamom
  • 2 Black Cardamom
  • 4 Cloves
  • 1-inch Cinnamon Sticks
  • 1 tbsp Cumin Seeds
  • 2-3 Bay leaves
  • 1 pinch of mace


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Cashmere Muhammad
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