The question is: What is masala? Basically, it is an East Indian spice blend. The photo to the left is from the Masala Cook web site. The web site Masala Cook states that,
“You’ll find this term popping up in virtually all South Asian cuisines. Masala generally refers to the (sometimes) dry-roasted and ground spice powders used to add flavor and aroma to dishes. Some frequently used spices are coriander seeds, cloves, cinnamon, black cumin, bay leaves, mace, nutmeg and peppercorns. Regional preferences and the type of dish determine the infinite number of combinations.
Curried dishes have spices and chilies added to a tomato and onion base. In southern cuisines, spices are added to ground coconut paste or coconut milk gravies and stews. The resultant thick mixture is also referred to as ‘masala’.
Masala Dosa is a breakfast food/tiffin that’s a given on South Indian restaurant menus. Here, ‘masala’ is the spicy potato mixture that sits rolled up in the middle of the dosa (a crisp, rice-and-lentil crepe).
On a dull, winter day, try a masala chai to pep you up! The spice mix brewed with tea leaves and sugar varies according to individual taste, but usually includes cinnamon, ginger, cloves and peppercorn, with the dominant flavor of cardamom.”
Hopefully, this answers some questions. But as you can see from the article, the masala spice blend can be quite varied. It depends on the locale of the cooking – New Delhi cooking is different than Bombay cooking which is different than Lahore cooking or Madras cooking – and the dish being prepared. Indian cooking, curry for example, from India tends to be more spicy than the somewhat sweet curries of Indonesia. Therefore, the masala spice blend will be different. Pick the one you like and go with that. Or experiment. It’s definitely your choice. Cheers!