The achāri masala is an Indian spice blend that will add a cracker of a flavor to various dishes like achāri potatoes, paneer, okra etc. This spice blend is spicy, tangy, super flavorful and will leave your taste buds singing. This post will walk you through what this spice blend is, where to you use and how to make it.
What is Achāri Masala?
“Achār” in Hindi and a few other Indian languages means pickles. Now pickles in India is a very serious business and the variety is mind- boggling. Also we love our pickles spicy just like most of our food. Also the spice blend used in pickles varies across slightly across regions. In this post, we will look at the recipe primarily used to make North India pickling spice blends .
We don’t just use this popular Indian spice blend to make pickles but also in a variety of dishes as a finishing spice mix. It goes amazingly well with various produce like potatoes, okra which is also known as ladies fingers or “Bhindi” in Hindi. Sounds interesting? Check out my Achāri Bhindi recipe. Another popular dish is with paneer*. You can also use halloumi* or even firm tofu for a vegan swap.
How is this spice blend different from others?
This North Indian spice blend tends to be different than other ones like Garam Masala etc since it contains different ingredients like nigella seeds(onion seeds) which taste slightly bitter with undertones of burnt onion, cumin and oregano. It also contains Aamchur which is dry mango powder. This adds tanginess along some earthy flavors. Another ingredient is fenugreek seeds which are on the bitter side. You might be wondering if all these ingredients will end up making your dish bitter. Absolutely not since the nigella and fenugreek are only added in small amounts. As I mentioned earlier, Indian pickles are spicy hence this spice mix will contain chillis. However you can always reduce the quantity based on your personal preferences(check recipe notes).
One of the advantages of making your spice blends or mixes is you can customize them to your preferences. It is also a great way to ensure you have a fresh product in your pantry vs buying from stores where that might not always be the case.
Ingredients and Process
The list of ingredients include
- Nigella seeds
- Fenugreek seeds
- Black Mustard seeds
- Cumin seeds
- Coriander seeds
- Fennel seeds
- Dry Red Chillis
- Aamchur(Dry Mango) powder
- Turmeric Powder
- Hing(Asafoetida) powder
The most amount of work involved in making this spice mix is basically dry roasting the spices and chilis on a low heat. I prefer doing this in a wide, flat pan. You will have to constantly saute to ensure they don’t burn. You can check if the spices are done by looking at them and also the wonderful fragrance that will permeate the room (and house!). The coriander, cumin and chillis will develop a brownish tinge. This is also a tip for any other spice blends. Check the larger and light colored spices to see if they have changed color. Along with this, you will notice the spices getting really fragrant and filling up your space.
Once this is done, turn off the stove and take the pan off the stove. Pour the spices in a bowl/plate and let it cool down. Once it has, pour the mixture in a small blender or spice blender. Now add the turmeric, hing and blend until the mixture has been ground to a smooth powder. You might have to use a blender scraper to move the spices around. This will ensure a smoother blend.
You can store this spice mix at room temperature for around 6 months. Try experimenting and see where else you can use this blend. Also don’t forget to tag me using #dillandthyme on Instagram.
Looking for more Indian recipes? Check these out.
Indian Spice Blend – Achāri Masala
- Heat a wide, flat pan at medium low heat. Add all the whole spices and let it sit for 30-45 seconds before lightly sautéing.
- If you have a smaller pan, then you can add a couple of spices at a time to dry roast them until they are lightly browned and fragrant. Keep sautéing regularly to ensure the spices don't burn.
- Put them aside to cool. Remove and repeat with other spices until they are all done.
- Once all the whole spices are dry roasted, let it cool down until they are ready to be ground.
- Now add the roasted spices to a spice blender or a small blender. Also add the turmeric and hing.
- Blend till the entire spice blend is ground smoothly. Stop and check if the spices need to be moved round in the blender to ensure they are not stuck under the blades etc.
- Store in a dry and clean glass or stainless steel jar for up to 6 months at room temperature.
- Paneer is a popular Indian non-melting cheese and Halloumi is a Cypriot non-melting cheese which is is much saltier than paneer.
- Ensure all the spices are properly browned. Keep moving the spices around to ensure all of it gets exposed to the heat.
- If you are unable to find Indian red chillis, then I would suggest using chilli powder. Kashmiri red chilli powder is one type which provides a lovely red color while being quite mild.
- If you are new to cooking with these spices and wondering what to do with the rest of the whole spices, store them in a glass or stainless steel containers for future use. Check out other Indian recipes on my blog or others you enjoy.