Home made Fish Masala spice blend is vibrant and spicy from red chili powder and turmeric and fragrant from cloves, cinnamon, garlic and ginger.
The best thing about making a fish masala spice blend at home or any spice blend for that matter, is that you can make it fresh in small batches and there are no chemical additives or colorants. It is far superior in freshness and flavor to the packaged spice mixes in supermarkets and is gluten free.
In our home my mother made wet masalas from scratch but because of the amount of cooking and entertaining that she did she normally bought most of her dry spices in bulk. One of my dad’s cousins worked at a spice factory and I remember that she would buy the spices at the factory for my mum. Usually cumin, coriander, fennel and turmeric as well as a variety of spice blends for barbeque chicken or meat.
I realized when I was planning to make this Cape Malay Pickled Fish recipe that the pickled fish masala spice that I brought with me from Cape Town was very vague in it’s ingredients and I had no idea what was in it, aside from the occasional cumin seed and bay leaves.
I then bought a packet of fish masala spice mix for marinating the fish at the shop downstairs in my apartment building, and reading some of the ingredients made me queasy. It seemed that some of the ingredients were added specifically to preserve and extend the shelf life of the product.
I decided at that moment that I would make my own home made fish masala spice blend from scratch, because I could control what went into it and it will be easier to replicate the flavor, wherever I am in the world. Many store bought fish masala powders also include wheat flour and / or corn flour as an ingredient. These act as fillers as well as to keep it dry and prevent clumping.
The red chili and turmeric give it a warm color and the cinnamon, garlic and ginger add warmth to the flavor.
How to make Fish Masala spice powder
Home made masala spice blends are fragrant and a delight to the senses as long as you ensure the following:
- Use fresh whole spices
- Use pure fresh powdered spices.
- Use a clean dry pan to dry roast the whole spices.
- Remove the pan from the heat when you see the first wisps of smoke at about 2-3 minutes and stir off the heat in the pan to continue frying the spices for another minute or two.
- Allow the roasted spices to cool before grinding or milling
- Mix together the ground and powdered spices.
- Store in a clean dry spice jar.
Home made Fish Masala spice blend
This small batch home made Fish Masala spice blend is pure, fragrant and contains no additives or fillers and is enough for 750 grams of fish.
- 15 ml coriander seeds approximately 1 level tablespoon
- 5 ml fennel seeds approximately 1 level teaspoon
- 5 ml cumin seeds approximately 1 level teaspoon
- 5 ml black peppercorns approximately 1 level teaspoon
- 4 cloves
- 15 ml red chili powder approximately 1 level tablespoon
- 2.5 ml garlic powder approximately 1/2 level teaspoon
- 2.5 ml ginger powder approximately 1/2 level teaspoon
- 2.5 ml cinnamon powder approximately 1/2 level teaspoon
- 2.5 ml turmeric powder approximately 1/2 level teaspoon
Dry roasting whole spices
Add the coriander, fennel, cumin, black peppercorns and cloves to a small pan dry clean pan and dry roast on medium heat until it smells fragrant.
Remove from the heat when you see the first wisps of smoke at about 2-3 minutes and continue to stir it off the heat in the pan to continue frying the spices.
Let the roasted whole spices cool before grinding.
If using a pestle and mortar, grind the spices until it is a fine powder, or as fine as you can.
If using an electric spice grinder, pulse the spices until it is a fine powder. Try not to let the motor run for so long that the spices start to heat up, as it ruins the flavor.
Add the chili powder, garlic powder, ginger powder, cinnamon powder and turmeric powder to a bowl and mix in the freshly ground spices.
Use immediately or decant into a container with an airtight lid and store until required.
Use a clean dry pan to dry roast the spices.
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