Pav bhaji masala is a spice blend used to make the most popular Iconic street food, Pav Bhaji. Indian foods get their robust & unique flavor and taste from the spices used while cooking. For a perfect balance of hot, sweet & pungent flavors, spices are used in their whole and ground form. This combination of spices is what makes them so special. A lot of dishes use a specific spice blend for a unique aroma. Pav bhaji masala is one of the most aromatic masala powder used in street foods like pav bhaji, Tawa Pulao, Egg Bhurji, Masala Pav and many more. In this post I share with you the easiest recipe to make pav bhaji masala at home.
About Pav Bhaji Masala
Pav bhaji masala is a spice powder made with basic whole spices like coriander seeds, cumin seeds, black cardamoms, star anise, green cardamoms, fennel seeds, dried ginger, red chilies, black pepper, cinnamon, cloves and dried mango powder. You will also find some store bought versions with nutmeg, mace and stone flower.
The whole spices are dry roasted on a low heat until crunchy, cooled and then ground to a fine powder. While making Pav bhaji, it is added to the spicy onion tomato and bell pepper base before adding the mashed veggies.
Your pav bhaji masala (spice blend) can easily make the best or even break your favorite pav bhaji. In the recent years, Pav Bhaji Masala is easily available everywhere, even outside India in the Indian grocery stores. But in the past it wasn’t.
Many years ago, we wouldn’t get a lot of things easily in Singapore like aged basmati rice, atta, good quality jaggery, and yes pav bhaji masala too. I remember we had to wait for several week to get a pack of this masala and surprisingly they would go out of stock soon.
I would carry all my ground spices from my Mom’s home in India like Garam masala, Rasam powder, Sambar powder, korma masala and Biryani masala. But I had to make my own pav bhaji masala as my supply from India would never last long. I tried a lot and this recipe worked out well and it almost got me to the same pav bhaji we would get from the best places in India.
As I said it is the pav bhaji masala that makes a good pav bhaji. It has been years and we love this for the complex flavors. The spice (heat) levels are easily adjustable and more importantly it is pure & clean like any other homemade food.
There are many brands selling this masala but you can make it easily at home if you have the whole spices. For me the the biggest challenge is the heat levels in the store bought masala which are way too hot for my kids. With this recipe you can easily adjust that while making the bhaji.
So my recipe will give you very fragrant masala without making it extremely hot. So you will have more flavor in your dish. For extra heat, add more red chilli powder while cooking.
How to Make Pav Bhaji Masala (Stepwise Photos)
1.Add 3 small or 2 large star anise to a pan and let them heat up gently. Dry roast until you get a nice floral aroma. Remove them to a plate to cool. I prefer to dry roast these slowly, separately & for a little longer. With this step your pav bhaji masala won’t have a lot of star anise grits.
2. To the same pan, add 5 to 6 dried red chilies (deseeded & broken), 3 inch cinnamon, 2 black cardamoms, 1 to 2 bay leaf and 3 tablespoons coriander seeds.
3. Dry roast on a low heat until they turn crunchy and aromatic. Transfer to the plate for cooling.
4. Add 2 ½ tablespoons cumin seeds, 1 tablespoon fennel seeds, 1 to 2 teaspoons black pepper corn (depending on your tolerance). Also add 10 cloves and 4 green cardamoms (optional).
5. Dry roast until the cumin seeds turn nutty, crunchy and well roasted. They must be roasted well like it is done for Roasted Jeera powder. Transfer to the plate and cool all of them. If your amchur & dry ginger are from refrigerator, you may gently warm them up in the same pan. This helps in better shelf life of the pav bhaji masala.
6. Add all the roasted and cooled ingredients.
7. I personally love using a little Kashmiri red chilli powder as it imparts a better color than the dried red chilies. This is optional. I use about a teaspoon.
8. Add half teaspoon dried ginger powder and 1 tablespoon amchur. You can also add 1/4 teaspoon hing if you want but I don’t.
9. Grind to a fine powder. Make sure you don’t grind too long, until the pav bhaji masala becomes hot. I always find the star anise to be a little gritty but after cooking it just seems fine. If you want you can sieve it. Cool completely.
Store pav bhaji masala in a air tight glass jar away from high humid places. It keeps good in a cabinet for 2 months and for 6 months in the refrigerator.
You can use this homemade masala to make my Pav Bhaji Recipe.
Roasting Spices in Oven
Add all the spices to a tray and keep in the oven at the lowest setting for 30 mins. Take them out when you begin to smell them nice. Cool and powder.
My earlier version (10+ years old version) of pav bhaji masala never had star anise, dried ginger and bay leaf. As I said these were hard for me to find them easily those days. The recipe still works out well. So you may easily skip them if they are not available.
Dried Red Chilies: The store bought version is made with hot red chilies. For a low heat masala use Kashmiri, byadgi or mathania chilies. These impart a bright color and keep the heat level low. You can also totally skip the red chilies and make with Kashmiri red chilli powder.
Black pepper adds heat and a pungent flavor. You may replace it with ground or crushed pepper or skip them.
Dried Ginger powder is an essential ingredient but it is just fine to make it without it. Do not use the whole dried ginger as it can damage your grinder.
Ingredients (US cup = 240ml )
- 3 tablespoons coriander seeds (dhaniya)
- 2½ tablespoons cumin seeds (jeera)
- 2 teaspoons pepper corn (can reduce to 1 tsp)
- 1 tablespoon fennel seeds (saunf)
- 5 to 6 dried red chilies (or replace with red chilli powder, adjust to taste)
- 3 inch cinnamon (dalchini, use ceylon cinnamon not cassia)
- 10 cloves (laung)
- 2 small black cardamoms (badi elaichi, masala elaichi)
- 1 tablespoon amchur powder (dried mango powder)
- 2 star anise (refer notes)
- 4 green cardamoms (optional)
- 1 to 2 bay leaves (optional)
- ½ teaspoon dried ginger powder (ground ginger, skip if you don't have)
- Clean the spices and discard stones or debris.
- To a pan, add star anise, black cardamoms, dried red chilies, coriander seeds, bay leaf (optional) and cinnamon. On a low heat, dry roast them until slightly aromatic & crisp, stirring constantly. Remove to a cooling plate.
- Add cloves, pepper corn, cumin seeds, fennel seeds and green cardamoms (optional). Cumin seeds tend to burn quickly so be cautious. Keep stirring and roast them just until aromatic & crunchy.
- Turn off the heat and remove from stove. Add the amchur & ginger powder to the hot pan so it begins to release the aroma and also helps in a better shelf life.
How to Make Pav Bhaji Masala
- Cool all of these completely. Add them to a grinder jar or spice jar. If you want you can also add 1 teaspoon red chilli powder. Make a fine powder. Avoid grinding too long to prevent the spice powder becoming hot.
- If the pav bhaji masala is coarse, sieve it. Blend the coarse parts again.
- Store pav bhaji masala in an air tight glass jar. Keeps good for 6 months in the refrigerator. Here is the recipe to make Pav bhaji.
Alternative quantities provided in the recipe card are for 1x only, original recipe.
For best results follow my detailed step-by-step photo instructions and tips above the recipe card.
NUTRITION INFO (estimation only)
© Swasthi’s Recipes
Pav Bhaji Masala first published in July 2012. Updated and republished in April 2022.