Masala — which is said to originate from the Arabic word for “necessities” — truly is a necessity in East African cooking. Indian traders, as well as British colonialists who had acquired a fondness for this traditional blend of chilies and spices, brought masala with them when they settled on African shores, and it is now used throughout the region.
There’s no one right way to make a masala — recipes vary from region to region and family to family, but this distinctive version adds a strong, balanced flavour to meat, fish, and vegetable stews. You can use it in any recipe that calls for dried curry powder.
Makes 1 Cup
1/2 cup (175ml) plus 2 tablespoons olive oil
One 3-inch piece ginger, peeled and grated
4 garlic cloves, minced
8 jalapeńo chilies, seeded and chopped
1 teaspoon cardamom seeds
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 teaspoon coriander seeds
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1/4 bunch coriander leaves, chopped
1. Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a medium sauté pan over medium heat
2. Add the ginger, garlic, and jalapeńos and sauté until the garlic is golden, about 4 minutes
3. Add the cardamom, turmeric, and coriander and sauté until fragrant, about 1 minute. Remove from the heat
4. Transfer to a blender, add the white wine vinegar, coriander leaves and blend well to combine. With the blender running on low speed, add the remaining 1/2 cup oil in a thin, steady stream, blending until well combined.
Chef Tip : For a brighter appearance use more of the coriander leaves. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week or in the freezer for up to 3 weeks