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Best Chaat Masala Substitute

Maria Foster
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by Maria Foster

Chaat Masala is a spice mixture with origins in South Asia that is often used in chaat.

The exact composition of the mix may vary, but it usually contains a combination of cumin, dried ginger, black salt, dried mango powder, black pepper, chili powder, coriander, fennel, ajwain, tamarind powder, and dried mint.


If you want to make something with chaat masala, but you are out of the mix, you can substitute other masalas, such as Tikka Masala.

You can also use curry powder or make your spice mixture with flavor notes similar to the complex Chaat Masala.

Key flavors in the original spice mixture include zest, tang, salt, and spice. The primary use of Chaat Masala is in several street food dishes, including pani puri, samosa, and papri chaat.

It is often a popular ingredient to put in fruit dishes, beverages, and sandwiches. Here are some specific spices you can use to replace Chaat Masala.

Nutritional ValueSubstitution Ratio
Tikka MasalaPer 1 tbsp: 19 kcalories, 15 mg Na, 3.3 g Carbs, 0.9 g total fat Use half as much Tikka Masala as you would Chaat Masala.
Curry PowderPer 1 tbsp: 21 calories, 3 mg Na, 3.7 g Carbs, 0.9 g total fat In cooked dishes use a 1:1 ratio at first and add more curry powder as needed.
SumacPer 1 tbsp: 0 calories, 0 mg Na, 0 g Carbs, 0 g total fat Depending on taste you can start with a 1:1 ratio.
Chili powder, Salt, and PepperPer 1 tbsp: 14 calories, 1577.9 mg Na, 2.8 g Carbs, 0.5 g total fat Start by using half as much chili powder mix as you would use Chaat Masala. 

What Does Chaat Masala Taste Like?

Like many spice mixes, Chaat Masala has a complex flavor consisting of salty, spicy, tart, tangy, sweet, and sour notes.

The mix differs from similar mixes primarily thanks to those sour, tart, and tangy notes. Other spice mixes are known for more prominent spiciness or sweetness.

The mango powder is largely responsible for the sweetness and tartness of the mix, with some help from cumin, fennel, tamarind, and coriander. Spiciness comes from chili, ginger, and black pepper.

When trying to replicate this flavor, it is essential to consider all angles of flavor.

Chaat Masala Nutritional Value

Since Chaat Masala consists of a mixture of spices, it does not usually have much nutritional value. The exact values may vary based on the exact composition.

In general, a tablespoon of Chaat Masala will have around 11 calories, 2 grams of carbohydrates, 400 milligrams of sodium, 1 gram of fat, 1 gram of protein, and small amounts of Vitamin A and Calcium.

Chaat Masala Substitutes

If you can not find or make Chaat Masala, there are several ways you can replicate the flavors of this mix. Several ready-made spice mixes capture the spicy and tangy combo that makes Chaat Masala so notable.

In some cases, you may want to augment your existing spice mix with other elements to make it more similar to Chaat Masala.

Tikka Masala

Best Chaat Masala Substitute

Tikka Masala shares some ingredients with Chaat Masala, including cumin, coriander, black pepper, and chili powder.

Since this spice mix is spicier than Chaat Masala, you may want to add sweetness and tanginess with a dried fruit powder or some citrus. Salt is also a valuable addition.

This substitute has strong flavors that work best in a cooked item instead of a raw topping.

When using Tikka Masala in a dish, only add half as much as you think you will need, especially if you intend to supplement with other ingredients.

Depending on what you make, you may need even less Tikka Masala than expected.

Curry Powder

Best Chaat Masala Substitute

The vital thing to know about curry powder is there are several different curry powder blends.

They usually contain some similar ingredients to Chaat Masala, such as cumin, coriander, and chili powder. However, they may also contain turmeric, ginger, cinnamon, mustard, and cardamom.

Curry powders often yield some spicy and sweet flavor, but are not tart. To replicate Chaat Masala, you will likely want to add a citrus element and some salt. You will usually want more curry powder than chaat masala.


Best Chaat Masala Substitute

Unlike some other replacements for Chaat Masala, Sumac is a great replacement when you want to capture the tartness the mix lends to dishes.

It is a popular ingredient in Middle Eastern dishes, including falafel, hummus, kebab, and rice. In combination with other spices, sumac is part of a za’atar spice mix.

Since this spice is so tart, you will likely want to combine it with spicy and sweet elements, and salt. Sumac works well in both cooked dishes and as raw seasoning.

Chili Powder, Salt, And Pepper

Best Chaat Masala Substitute

In a pinch, a mixture of chili powder, salt, and pepper is a useful substitute for Chaat Masala. It works in both cooked and raw dishes.

Ideally, you would also add sweet and tart elements to complete the flavor profile. Try adding mango powder, sumac, or other citrus fruits.

The exact ratio of the mixture will depend on your use. Start with around a quarter teaspoon of salt and pepper each and half a teaspoon of chili powder. If you like that ratio, keep adding ingredients until you have the amount you need.

With the complexity of Chaat Masala, this ingredient has a versatility that allows it to work well in many dishes.

It draws out sweetness while providing a tangy balance and excites the taste budstastebuds so that a simple bread-based dish has some spice.

Pani Puri

Pani Puri is a fun-to-eat South Asian street food that includes thin pods of bread filled with a combination of chutney, chickpeas, mashed potatoes, and chaat masala-based water.

All elements combine to create a multidimensional bite with sweet, spicy, tangy, crunchy, and wet flavors and textures.

Aloo Chaat

Aloo Chaat is a South Asian street food that consists of fried potatoes, chutney, pomegranate, and a spice mix.

Chaat Masala provides a distinctive flavor to this dish and receives support from sweet and tangy pomegranate seeds and chutneys.

Bhel Puri

Bhel Puri is another South Asian street food made from puffed rice and sev. It also includes a tamarind sauce and vegetables, such as tomatoes, chilis, onions, and potatoes.

This dish is popular in beach areas, and the exact makeup of the dish varies by region.

Fruit Salad

Chaat Masala brings out the character of several types of fruit in a fresh fruit salad. This salad can consist of any fruit you want.

To get the most out of the spice mix, try using a combination of fruits with different flavors and textures.

Pears, oranges, pears, strawberries, mango, papaya, grapes, and pomegranate seeds make up a good part of this dish.

Egg Sandwich

This dish is a popular option in South India. To take your egg sandwich to the next level, add some Chaat Masala, or a substitute.

Other elements of this sandwich include white bread, tomatoes, cheese, green chilis, onion, fresh herbs, and chutney.


Chaat Masala is a delicious spice mix that adds a complex flavor to any dish. It is often in street foods where it imparts a tangy, sweet, salty, and spicy matrix of flavors. If you find yourself without this delicious mix, there are several you can replace it with.

Use other spice mixes or a few strategic flavoring agents. Try out these substitutions and see if you discover any new ways to capture the Chaat Masala flavor.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Does Chaat Masala Mean?

“Chaat” refers to any street food in India, while a “Masala” is a spice mixture. There are plenty of different masalas with a variety of ingredients and uses.

They usually contain coriander, cumin, pepper, and chili powder. So, a Chaat Masala is the spice mix most often used for street food in India and neighboring areas.

What Does “Chaat” Mean In Hindi?

In Hindi, chaat means “to taste” or “lick.” So, it makes sense that this word would find use in street foods that may be eaten in such a way.

The term was first used in northern India before spreading throughout the rest of the world.

These street foods vary around the country and world, often including some bread components.

Ingredients in chaat often include chickpeas, potatoes, chutney, sev, puffed rice, yogurt, fruit, and vegetables. The dishes are usually easy to eat on the go and simple to hold in your hands.

Is Garam Masala A Good Substitute For Chaat Masala?

While you can use other masalas, in place of Chaat Masala, Garam Masala is not the best option. Garam Masala has a deeper, earthy flavor, while Chaat Masala is bright and sweeter.

As a result, it would take a lot of adjustments to make one mix taste like the other. Instead of using Garam Masala, try one of the options on the above list, or use spicy, tangy, and sweet flavors in appropriate combinations.

About Maria Foster
Maria Foster
Maria Foster is a mother of 3 and she and her husband of 23 years share their home with 2 faithful dogs. Besides being CEO of the household and active in her community, Maria is the lead contributor to Food Champs and loves to try new food ideas and kitchen accessories to make easier and more delicious meals.
Maria Foster
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