|April 05, 2023


"Masala" is the term used for a spice mix in Hindi. Both chaat masala and garam masala are delicious combinations of spices. Indians use both masala powders as general-purpose spice blends. There are some crucial differences between the two masala powders. This article will examine the differences and best ways to use each combination.


Garam Masala

Chaat masala is a delicious blend of hot and tangy spices. In Hindi, the word "Chaat" means "to lick," and "masala" is "spice blend." So the word "chaat" stands for a collection of spicy and savory, lip-smacking snacks. 

Chaat Masala is designed for use on chaat. Chaat food is savory fried snacks served by street-food vendors in India. Chaat can include potato chunks, dough, samosas, and fritters (pakora). Chaat has become so famous that Indian immigrants to the US have adapted it for use in various American dishes. These include onion rings and fries.

Indians use Garam Masala as an add-on spice when making curry dishes. Indian street-food vendors sprinkle Chaat masala on top of cut fruits and chaat. Of course, there are many uses, variations, and recipes, but this is how Indians use them.

Garam masala is usually a mixture of

  • Ground cumin
  • Coriander
  • Cloves
  • Cardamom, and
  • Cinnamon

It's generally used in curries in north Indian and east Indian (Bengali) cuisine. Chaat Masala is a mixture of

  • Salt (usually black salt)
  • Dry mango powder
  • Ginger
  • Asafetida
  • Cumin
  • Coriander
  • And many other seeds and spices. 
Chaat Masala

Indians grind Chaat Masala powder finer when compared to garam masala. It's used as a condiment-sprinkling powder rather than for cooking main dishes.

The significant difference between garam masala and chaat masala is the addition of black salt. The black salt gives the chaat masala its distinct sulfurous smell and taste. Although it's an essential ingredient of chaat masala, it's never used in garam masala.

Most Indian spice blends must be cooked to release their flavor. But we can consume chaat masala both uncooked or cooked. Along with flavoring chaat, this masala is also used to flavor nuts. It's also sprinkled over fresh fruit or salads as a condiment. 

The flavor of Chaat Masala is tart. This tartness comes from the mango powder it contains. A few chaat masala blends include a spice from dried pomegranate seeds. It's called "anardana." Adding these seeds adds to the tartness of chaat masala. 

Chaat masala has several spices that are prevalent in the west. These include Cumin and Coriander. But, it also has spices like black salt and Asafetida that are not entirely well-known in western kitchens.

Garam masala means "hot spices" in Hindi. Generally, Indians use this masala powder in cooked dishes. The garam masala blend is very aromatic. It includes Cardamom, mace, and black peppercorns. 

The word "hot" does not necessarily suggest the peppery heat of the spices in the blend. It can also mean that we toast the whole spices before grinding.

Unlike chaat masala, the spices used in Garam Masala blends are familiar to people from the west. You may have many of these spices already in your spice cabinet!


Garam Masala and Chaat Masala powders do have a few components in common. It means that their flavor profiles share many of the same notes. Chaat masala can substitute for garam masala if you note that it has a more robust sour component. 

The tartness of chaat masala prevents it from being an ideal substitute in some dishes. It's an asset in all chaat-based food, though.

Garam masala is a good substitute for chaat masala if you add the mango powder (amchur) separately. You can substitute mango powder with souring agents like citric acid or citrus juice. 

Many recipes for homemade chaat masala need garam masala as their base ingredients. You can add Asafetida, black salt, mango powder to garam masala, and any other spices you may want to use for convenience.


Chaat masala is excellent for use on raw fruit and vegetables. Indians use it in dishes that need tartness. Add it at the last minute to jack up the flavor of a dish. 

Chaat masala is added after the chaat item is prepared. It’s sprinkled to enhance the taste as per the choice of diners as to how spicy they want their dish to be. 

It can be added to almost any dish that’s cooked, fried, or eaten raw like vegetables and fruit salad. Its ingredients are salt, mango powder, red chili, etc.

Garam masala is added to the final dish, just after its cooked. As garam masala is a ground mix of selected Indian Spices that are roasted and fine powdered, it doesn’t need to be cooked. Garam Masala acts as a taste enhancer too.

Garam masala is best for curries, lentil dishes like dal, and soups. You can use it in a pumpkin soup or as an ingredient of a dry rub for grilled meat. The spices in garam masala are commonly used in Western dishes too. So, its flavors suit many western dishes too.


Can we substitute garam masala instead of chaat masala?
What is chaat masala made of?
Why is it called garam masala?
What is the difference between chaat and garam masala?
Can we use garam masala in place of chaat masala?