mother in law masala recipe


What Is Mother in law Masala?

Mother in law masala (also known as mother in law’s tongue masala) is a uniquely Durban blend of spice. It‘s deep colour and fiery taste are a masala manifestation of the sharp tongued mother-in-law stereo type. It is unclear why the mother-in-laws of Durban have been revered in this form. None the less it is one of the most loved spices for making hot curries. Like the Durban masala, this masala (and most mother-in-laws) are not just all fire, but also have underlying notes of aroma and sweetness to them.


Mother in law Masala Ingredients

Durban masala is milder in comparison to this spice because of its use of a higher quantity and variety of pungent spices. It‘s fire is fueled by piri piri chillies,black pepper, cayenne pepper and mustard seeds and ginger and garlic. It‘s red colour by kashmiri chillies and paprika and flavour and aroma by fennel,cumin, cardamon, cinnamon, nutmeg, fenugreek,bay leaves and curry leaves. Recipes vary in the quantity and combination. In this recipe I used all of the spices listed.


This is an all natural masala recipe, it does not uses added colorants or preservatives. It yields 300g spice. Enough to use within two weeks if you cook curry regularly. I tend to use 2-3 tablespoons of it per curry.

How to Make Mother in Law Masala

To make this masala. I roasted whole spices then ground into powder using a spice grinder. When ground the spices have brown colour. The addition of  kashmiri chilli powder, cayenne pepper, and roasted paprika account for the deep orange colour.



Mother in law Masala Recipe

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Author: Food Like Amma Used to Make It

Mother in Law Masala Recipe

Mother in Law Masala Recipe

Prep time: 15 MCook time: 5 MTotal time: 20 M
This uniquely Durban masala is well loved for its fiery taste and medley of flavour and aroma.


  • 7 tablespoons Kashmir chilli powder (Deggi Mirch)
  • 3 tablespoons cayenne pepper powder
  • 1 tablespoon piri piri chillies
  • 1 tablespoon smoked paprika powder
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon ginger powder
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon black mustard seeds
  • 2 tablespoons coriander seeds
  • 1 tablespoon fennel seeds
  • 1 tablespoon green cardamom pods
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 teaspoon fenugreek seeds
  • ½ teaspoon grated nutmeg
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 3 tablespoons dried curry leaves
  • 3 sticks cinnamon
  • 2 star annise
  • 4 cloves


  1. Measure and prepare the spices.
  2. Heat a heavy based pan on medium heat. Add whole spices. I started by roasting coriander, fenugreek and cardamom pods (whole) first then added mustard seeds and fennel and whole chillies.
  3. Keep on medium heat to avoid burning.Once the mustard seeds and jeera start to pop, remove from stove.
  4. Allow to cool before grinding in a spice grinder.
  5. Grind until a fine powder forms. Sieve to remove any particles.
  6. Store in an airtight container.
  7. This masala can be used in meat or vegetable curry. Try a dry chicken curry or one with potatoes.
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What Spices to Use When

I have received a reader question regarding the use of spices in curry. I apologize for not answering personally.

For which curries can I use methi powder and elachi powder ?

I personally, simply use a masala (blend of different spices) when cooking rather than individual powders. Both methi powder and elachi powder are ingredients in the mother in law masala and Durban masala. They can be used additionally to masala to enhance specific flavours in specific dishes.

Methi powder (fenugreek), is the powdered form of methi seeds. Methi leaves are a popular ingredient of then made with eggs and best known for its bitterness. Similarly methi powder has a bitter note. It can be used in both vegetable and meat dishes. According to chef Chintan Panday, it has a lingerings sweetness and balances pungently spiced flavours. He recommends using it with potatoes or lentils. It can also be used in a meat curry with potatoes.

Elachi Powder (cardamom) is known for its distinct aroma and used in mildly spiced rice dishes such as biryani or pilaf or sweet dishes like soji . It can also be added to and to give aroma to chicken curry or mutton curry.

I hope this answers the question, let me know how your recipe turns out using either of the spices.

More Spice Recipes

Homemade Birth Masala Recipe
Durban Masala Recipe


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  1. How much is a stick of cinnamon? I never know how much cinnamon to actually use? On videos, I see some people using flat pieces of cinnamon, while others use big curled up sections – there seems to be a large amount of variation that I don't know how to address…

  2. Hi, thanks for stopping by. Good question. In my experience 1 cinnamon stick when ground equals approx. 1/2 teaspoon. The quantity depends on the length of the stick so may vary. For an in depth answer see this useful post
    Regarding the type, there are two types Ceylon cinnamon and cassia. 'Real' or 'true' cinnamon is Ceylon, native to Sri Lanka. This type is curled and light brown in colour. Cassia on the other hand has a dark reddish colour.
    Hope this answers your questions.

  3. Would love to try this masala…how many spoons of this masala should I use in 1kg chicken…tanx for sharing…

  4. Hi, thanks for stopping by. I usually use 2 level tablespoons for a fiery chicken curry.Adjust accordingly to your preference.

  5. You mention cardamom. Green or black or a mixture of the two?

  6. I used green cardamom in this recipe.

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