International cooking for the youthful malcontent.

Hot Chili-Coconut Masala

Hot Chili-Coconut Masala

You like your food spicy? Then this is the masala for you. Dried chilies and toasted coconut provide the main flavour punch, while a myriad other spices provide texture and colour. This is a western Indian-style spice blend, and is not for the faint of tongue. It’s hot, and I say that as someone who likes my food fairly spicy compared to the norm. It’s quite hot. You’ve been warned.

Ingredients (for about 1 cup):

  • 1 cup dried red chilies (break off and throw out the stems)
  • 1/2 cup shredded unsweetened coconut
  • 2 tbsp sesame seeds
  • 1 tbsp coriander seeds
  • 1 tbsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tbsp black peppercorns
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1 tsp fenugreek seeds
  • 4 blades of whole mace
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tsp vegetable oil
  • 2 tbsp Kashmiri chili powder

What you will need: medium-sized bowl, non-stick frying pan and fork to stir, measuring cups and spoons, plate to cool the spices on, spice-grinder or mortar and pestle, jar with tight lid to store the final blend


  1. In the bowl, Combine all ingredients except the Kashmiri chili powder. Add the tsp of oil and stir it into the whole spices. You want to give the spices an even coat of light oil.
  2. Heat up the frying pan to medium heat (4-5 on my dial).
  3. Add the whole spices to the frying pan and stir them around with the fork fairly often.
  4. The spices will take about 3-4 minutes to roast. You’ll know when it’s done by looking at the spices: the coconut will turn dark brown, the chilies will blacken slightly, the sesame seeds will turn reddish brown, and so on.
  5. Immediately pour the spices, when done, onto the plate to cool. Let the spices cool for about 20 minutes in open air. You want the moisture around the whole spices to evaporate off the spices. If you don’t let this happen, the final mixture will turn into a moist paste instead of a dry powder. This happened to me the first time, and although it’s still tasty, it’s kind of a pain to work with.
  6. Once the spices are cool to the touch, grind them into a fine powder using the grinding method you have on hand.
  7. Finally, transfer the ground mix into the jar, and add the Kashmiri chili powder. This powder is more for colour than for heat (there’s plenty of that already) as Kashmiri powder is a nice, bright, saffron-red. Stir this powder into the spice blend thoroughly, and then close the jar. Done.

Once again, a tightly sealed jar of spices should last up to 2 months. Do not refrigerate.


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