Homemade tandoori masala is flavorful and tastes SO much better made at home. Easy to make in just 10 minutes!
Tandoori masala is a popular Indian spice blend that tastes smoky, with mild heat and a hint of tangy flavor to the dish.
In Indian cooking, tandoori masala is traditionally used specifically for tandoori-style cooking, which involves marinating proteins or vegetables in a mixture of spices and yogurt before grilling in a tandoor oven. A tandoor oven is a special type of clay oven.
Not to be confused with garam masala, a general-purpose spice blend used to add flavor and aroma to a variety of dishes.
A perfect example of using this spice blend is to make Paneer Tikka. It’s a VERY popular Indian dish.
I, personally, love the distinct flavor of tandoori masala and have used in Indian fusion dishes such as Tandoori Paneer Tikka Tacos and Tandoori Spiced Queso. A reader favorite is Tandoori Mac and Cheese.
Fresh ingredients | You will taste the difference with a fresh, homemade tandoori masala mix
Quick to prepare |Ready in just 10-15 minutes of cook time needed for everyday meals
Vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free | Vegan option available
Why make your own?
Taste the difference: Homemade spice blends make your dishes stand out.
No artificial colors: When you order tandoori dishes at Indian restaurants, often you will see a vibrant red color. These restaurants use added red food coloring. The premade packages at Indian grocery stores also usually use Red 40.
It’s easy: Making the tandoori spice mix is easy. You dry roast whole Indian spices and then grind into a powder.
No fillers or preservatives: It’s simple – you are making it so you are sure of the quality of the ingredients
The good news is that most of the ingredients are common Indian spices that you likely have on hand if you often cook Indian cuisine.
Below are ingredient notes. Full ingredients and directions are in the printable recipe card at the end of the post.
If you want more information on these spices or pictures of each, check out my guide to Indian spices.
Kashmiri chilies: Key ingredient! Kashmiri chili gives a smoky flavor and mild heat to a dish. It is often used for the color it gives a dish, especially in tandoori-style cooking. There is no exact substitute for kashmiri chilies.
Red chilies are VERY spicy in contrast and would change up the flavor of the blend completely. However, you could substitute some of the Kashmiri chilies for red chilies if you like the added heat.
Coriander seeds: Gives warm citrus notes with hints of lemon pepper. Coriander powder can work as a substitute.
Black peppercorns: This provides a touch of heat. In a pinch, you could substitute black pepper powder.
Cumin seeds: Provides the “grounding” flavor of the spice. Whole cumin seeds are dry roasted and then ground to make a ground cumin seed powder (jeera powder). You can substitute roasted cumin seed powder that is ready made.
Cardamom: Green and black cardamom pods are used. Green cardamom has notes of floral and sweet with a mild spice. Black cardamom has a stronger, earthier taste than green cardamom. You can substitute green cardamom.
Cinnamon sticks: Break the cinnamon sticks into halves before roasting.
Mace: Mace is the lace or outer shell covering nutmeg seeds. So, it has a very light nutmeg taste. Nutmeg powder can be used as a substitute.
Kasuri methi leaves: Kasoori methi is dried fenugreek leaves.
Fennel seeds: Fennel seeds impart a subtle sweetness to dishes. It adds a depth of flavor.
Cloves: Provides warm and sweet notes. Used often in tadka.
Spice powders: Ginger powder and garlic powder. You can skip the garlic powder. I don’t always add it, but ginger is a must.
Note: All of these spices can very easily be found in Indian grocery stores or online. Whole spices can be replaced with ground spices if you are in a pinch.
It is fun to make your own custom blend. Below are three simple ideas:
- For added tang: Mango powder (amchur powder).
- For added heat, add red chili powder or dry roast and grind dried red chili peppers.
- For added natural color, try beetroot powder.
Measure out ingredients:
- Keep cumin seeds, coriander seeds, and fennel seeds together.
- Mace, nutmeg, cinnamon sticks (break into halves), cardamom pods, and black peppercorns go in together next.
- Save the Kashmiri chilies to go in last!
You’ll need a spice grinder or coffee grinder handy to make this spice blend! I like Cusinart Nut & Spice Grinder.
Add cumin seeds, coriander seeds, and fennel seeds to a pan on low-medium heat for dry roasting. Stir and let roast for about 3 minutes. You will notice the spices become fragrant.
Add mace, nutmeg, cinnamon sticks, cardamom (green and black) pods, and black peppercorn added to the pan for dry roasting. Stir intermittently. Let roast for about 2 minutes.
Add Kashmiri chilies. Stir intermittently. Let roast for about 2 minutes.
Transfer roasted spices to a plate to cool down.
Once cool, add spices and powdered spices (ginger and garlic). Grind to form a fine powder. Mix in a large mixing bowl.
If you want to ensure a super fine powder, shake the ground spices through a fine sieve.
Store in an airtight container. Lasts 6-8 months, but tastes best 2-3 months after freshly ground.
Adding tandoori masala in yogurt along with crushed garlic makes for a simple marinade.
Since I’m vegetarian I would add paneer or even tofu as a paneer substitute. Let it sit before grilling or air frying. This is Paneer Tikka!
As mentioned above, I do like adding it for fusion Indian dishes as well such as Tandoori Paneer Tikka Tacos, Tandoori Spiced Queso, and Tandoori Mac and Cheese.
It also tastes yummy sprinkled on popcorn with butter!
What’s the difference between garam masala and tandoori masala?
Garam masala is a general-purpose spice blend used to add flavor and aroma to a variety of dishes, while tandoori masala is a spice blend used specifically for tandoori-style cooking.
Have you tried this homemade tandoori masala powder? If so, I would greatly appreciate it if you could take a moment to leave a comment and rate it with stars. It would mean a lot to me to hear how it turned out. If you’re on Instagram, feel free to tag me so I can see your creation. Thank you for your support!
- 1 grinder I like Cusinart Nut & Spice Grinder
- ¼ cup coriander seeds
- 2 tbsp cumin seeds
- 2 tsp peppercorns
- 8-10 whole green cardamom pods
- 1-2 whole black cardamom pods
- 2 2 inch cinnamon sticks
- 2 pieces mace
- 15-17 Kashmiri chilies
- 2 tsp kasuri methi leaves dried
- 1 tsp ginger powder
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 2 tsp fennel seeds
- 5 cloves
- Add cumin seeds, coriander seeds, and fennel seeds to a pan on low-medium heat for dry roasting. Stir and let roast for about 3 minutes. You will notice the spices become fragrant.
- Add mace, nutmeg, cinnamon sticks, cardamom (green and black) pods, and black peppercorn added to pan for dry roasting. Stir intermittently. Let roast about 2 minutes.
- Add kashmiri chilies. Stir intermittently. Let roast about 2 minutes.
- Transfer roasted spices to a plate to cool down.
- Once cool, add spices and powdered spices (ginger and garlic). Grind to form a fine powder. Store in an airtight container.