How To Make Masala (in bulk)

Every few months I get together with a friend and we have a ‘masala making session’! We spilt the cost of the materials, the work load and then, split the masala. It takes a few hours but once it’s done, cooking is just so easy and so fast. All you have to do is add in the veggies or the meats and cook. Voila! Your dish is ready!


Onions – 8 lbs
Crushed Tomatoes – 7 (14.5 oz) cans
Oil – 2.5 cups
Ginger & Garlic Paste – 32 oz jar
Salt – 2 tbsp
Turmeric Powder – 2 tbsp


1. Mince the Onions in a food processor.
2. Heat Oil in 1 large pan or 3-4 smaller pans.
3. Once the Oil is hot, add the Onions and cook for 10-15 minutes.
4. Add in the Ginger & Garlic Paste.
5.Cook till the mixture turns golden brown.
6. Keep stirring frequently.
7. Add in the Crushed Tomatoes and mix well.
8. Cook for another 10-15 minutes and add in the Salt and Turmeric Powder.
9. Mix and cook till the Oil seperates from the Masala.
10. Once the Oil seperates, allow it to cool down to room-temperature.

1. Line a cup/mug with a sandwich size ziploc bag.
2. Pour 1 cup of Masala in it.
3. Seal the ziplock except for a little space to put in a straw.
4. Insert the straw and vaccum out the air from the bag and quickly seal.
5. Evenly flatten out the Masala in the ziploc.
6. Put these in a gallon size ziplock and freeze (to avoid freezer burns).
7. Store in the freezer for upto a maximum of 6 months.


1. When ready to use, take out a a sandwich size bag and gently snap the amount needed.
2. Open the ziploc and take it out.
3. Put the Masala into a pan and allow it to thaw on medium heat.
4. Add in your favorite vegetable or meats and the spices needed.
5. You may or may not need to add more Salt.
6. Replace the balance bag of Masala in the freezer for future use.


1. Salt acts as a preservative, so you may need to add more. Please do the taste test.
2. One sandwich ziploc makes approx 3 dishes for 4 people each. But it varies on the dish.

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94 thoughts on “How To Make Masala (in bulk)

  1. Hi hetal,

    I made the raw onion paste with yellow onions and made the gravy but it turned out bitter.LAter i understood that it is because of yellow onions..Could you please let me know the reason why the bitterness with onion paste??

  2. Hi hetal,

    When i tried to make the onion paste with yellow onions in the US the paste turned out bitter and curry was bitter. Can u pls let me know regarding this if you have any idea why the grinded onion paste will be bitter??

  3. Luv your website. Please make a category for all different indian gravies like onion-coconut masala,makhni masala, peanut-coconut-onion masala…i want to try different indian gravies. Please tell the simplest method using pressure cooker, food processor etc:).thanks

  4. Hi Hetal & Anuja,

    Thank you for sharing such good recipes. I wanted to know what all can be made from this masala and how.


    1. Hi Ashka,

      You can use it with any daal or vegetable. Just add a little oil to the pan, a little bit of this masala and your veggies or cooked daal.

  5. महोदय
    आप मुझे बताए कि नमकीन मे Tomato Test wa Chataate Test ka Farrmula kaya hai

  6. I was looking for this since so long and am glad I found it here. Thanks you guys. Can u tell me if I can use fresh tomatoes instead of canned?
    Will it affect the taste or shelf life?
    Let me know! Looking forward to making this soon!!

    1. Hi Sj,

      You can definitely use fresh tomatoes. The shelf life will still be the same as you will be freezing the masala. The only difference we’ve noticed is that the color of canned tomatoes is much redder and richer than fresh pureed tomatoes.

  7. Thanks for the wonderful idea hetal and anuja. I am frequent viewer of ur website but writing for the first time. I am a bit lazy actually:) but this time I just cudn’t stop me. love u !!

  8. I have no Indian store near. Can you give me a recipe how to make my own ginger & garlic paste? Thank you. One last question: how small can I divide your recipe down and still come out with the right taste?

  9. Hi ladies!
    I am making this right now and where it is supposed to turn “golden brown” before tomatoes are added, it is bright green!! I don’t think I will get to the brown stage ever… suggestions?? 🙂

    1. Hi Ruth,

      Browning onions is a painstaking work. Sometimes the turmeric will turn it a shade of greenish yellow but if you cook it long enough, it will brown.

      1. Thanks for the reply. I actually only had oil and onions in the pan when they turned bright green. When the green changed in intensity I went on to the next step. Kind of bizarre though! haha It still tastes delicious! 🙂

  10. Hi,

    I have looked through other posts but can’t see a definitive answer… When you say cook until the oil separates, approx how long does that take. I’ve just cooked it for around an hour and, no separating. Am I doing something wrong?

    Thank you

    1. Hi Clare,

      The timing will always vary depending you the type of pan you are using and the intensity of your stove. “Oil separating” means that you will see streaks of oil that are not connected with the paste at the bottom of the pan. Also, the mixture will start to clump together (if you are using less oil).

  11. Hi! I am planning to make this masala over the wknd. I found ginger-garlic paste which is 26oz and crushed tomatoes were 28oz per can. Do I need to be exact? Should I measure it out? Thanks!

    1. Hi Shruti,

      The amounts we gave are just a guideline. As long as you don’t veer too far from them, you masala should be fine (a little more ore less of anything will not ruin it).

  12. Hey guys. I love your show and prefer your recipes over anyone else’s.

    Re this recipe for masala in bulk – did you pull down the video?


  13. Hi,
    In India at my place we dont get canned tomatoes do you still think I can go ahead n make it….also please provide the measurements in grams I cant make out oz

  14. Hello! I usually try to limit the oil in recipes serving 4 people to 1 tablespoon. I was wondering how many 1-cup bags this recipe makes. I need to know so I can do the math! Thanks.

  15. Hey there! This is such a great site. Appreciate all your work helping us out 🙂

    I have a question: Can I just use onion and tomato and follow your method to freeze without adding ginger & garlic? The reason is that every recipe needs different proportion of ginger / garlic and I want to add that as per need when I cook.

    Any side effects of not adding the two?

    1. Hi Mitali,

      Yes, you can use just tomatoes and onions. When you are ready to use the masala, you will have to cook the ginger and garlic first before adding the pre-made masala.

  16. Hey Hetal and Anuja! Made this with a couple friends last night and it turned out SO great. Thanks for such a solid recipe. Really excited to have 7 bags of masala in my freezer! 🙂

  17. One thing that I plan on using this for if I could is the Butter Chicken. One of my favourite recipes. I know I have heard that 1/3 cup in other comments for this. but That recipe calls for 3 tomatoes and the garlic ginger paste to make the gravy. It seems like that would need a bit more than 1/3 cup to put in the pan. Is it just that it gets cooked down or …

    1. Hi Phillip,

      Yes, the tomatoes do get cooked down. After you’ve been cooking Indian food for a while, you will realize that a little more or less tomatoes, onions, ginger, garlic really does not affect the outcome drastically :). This is a great time saving masala for most Punjabi dishes.

  18. Hello!,

    I have been getting a lot of good recipes from your site. Sometimes I think I should have been Indian 🙂 since I absolutely love Indian food. What I would like to know is, can I can this mixture. I am thinking about canning it in 8oz or 12oz jars. And possibly looking to give some away to people who would not go through the effort of what I am doing but if I gave them a mix of spices, the canned masala and told them what to add they would just love it. Thanks!


    1. Hi Phillip,

      We glad to hear that you are enjoying SMTC. Honestly, we have never canned this masala. We freeze it because we are able to break off as much as we need and put the rest back in the freezer for next time. If you can it, you would have to use it up pretty fast so that it does not spoil (there are no preservatives).

      1. Hi Hetal, just for future reference, if anyone wants to pressure-can this mixture (following the instructions with their canner of course), there should be no problem with it being shelf-stable for at least 6-12 months. That’s kind of the point of pressure-canning — that you can make stuff without preservatives.

        But absolutely DO NOT use the hot water bath method unless you want to poison your family!!

        1. Hi Laura,

          We have not used the pressure canning method to preserve anything so thanks for letting our viewers (and us) know about it.

        2. Hi Laura,

          I am interested in finding out more about pressure canning method. Can you guide me more and what’s the procedure to test the shelf life?

  19. Thank you so much for the recipe!

    When you get to step 9, wouldn’t it be a lot easier to toss it into a crock pot and come back after a few hours?

  20. Didn’t know that the masala can be frozen for up to 6 months….this is a very smart way of making the masala in advance…does save a lot and lot of time…and avoids the onion cutting fiasco….thanks so much you guys :):)…

    Most of the times when I use canned/ diced/ crushed/ pureed tomatoes…the dish turns out a little sour….is there anything I can do to reduce the sourness?Also, if I use fresh tomatoes, how many should I use instead of one 14 Oz canned tomatoes? (Am relatively new to cooking…and don’t know/ cant judge the proportions too well…)


      1. Hi Shalini,
        Sorry about the late response, we were out on vacation 🙂
        14 oz can is about 4 Roma tomatoes and 3 or the regular ones.
        Hope that helps 🙂

  21. Hi Hetal Anuja,

    Thanks so much for this great time saving recipe. I have a problem though. When I use the masala for any curry, the color turns into an unpleasant dark brown and does not look much presentable due to its dark color. Is there anything I may be doing wrong, or in other words, how do I prevent them from turning too dark brown in color?

    1. Hi Surya,
      Sounds like the onions are too much or that the onions are getting over cooked. The masala is not the prettiest thing in the world but this is the other reason we use the canned tomatoes ( they are a lot prettier than the fresh ones and help a little)

  22. Pingback: Buying Spices
  23. Hi Anuja and Hetal,
    32 oz. of ginger garlic paste sounds like a lot!! Is that accurate, or a typo? Just wanted to make sure before making. As I am a one person household, I think I will cut down and make 1/4 recipe. From your instructions,it looks like 1/3 cup will be used in most of your recipes. Is that correct? Thanks so much for turning this American woman into a not-so-bad-Indian You are both incredible!!

    1. Hi Judy,

      The batch that we make is HUGE so 32 oz is the proper amount…definitely cut down the amounts for a one person household. Yes, 1/3 cup is about accurate for a 4 servings recipe.

  24. HI,
    thanks for the recipe, i tried it for the first time and came out good,my concern is that, is this as healthy as fresh masala,i.e. does freezing makes any difference in the nutritive value ?

    1. Hi Samita,

      We have not heard of freezing really affecting the nutrition of food. It is such a big time saver that for busy people, it’s a blessing!

  25. I have been making and freezing masala since I came to the US. I make 2 kinds – one with chopped onions – and that cooks faster than the one with pureed onions and can be used for everything. Another is with pureed onions and that is only used for the butter chicken or butter paneer where you need a smooth curry. However to cut down on cooking time for the pureed onions masala – I chop onions (or sometimes just peel it and cut in half) and pressure cook it for a long time (1/2 hour or more)and then puree it with a hand held blender before starting to fry it in the pan. Bitterness in the masala will come only if the onions have not been fried very well, or were burned during the cooking process. I cook the masala till the oil separates and then add some water in it so that I can safely cook it again and make the oil separate from the masala. Doing this kind of “Bhunnoing” (roasting) a few times results in a very nice colored and tasty masala without burning it.
    I love your freezing and packing method.

  26. Hi,

    I recently discovered your website and have been hooked onto it eversince….

    Making masala in bulk looks like a huge timesaver.Would love to know if tomato puree can be used instead of crushed tomatoes? Also what brand of crushed tomatoes was used in your recipe?

    Appreciate your work guys!

  27. Hi,

    Most of the recipes need “Garam Masala”.

    Could you please post the recipe to make Garam Masala in bulk? Indian stores do sell Garam Masala, but each brand is different and it will change the taste completely.


      1. In the mean while could you please suggest a good store bought Garam Masala that could be used in your recipes that require it.

  28. Could you compile a list of recipes where this masala can be used? I tried to go through each recipe to figure it out myself, but it is hard to keep track.

    1. Paula, since I am vegetarian, we used in almost all curries that is base of our vegetarian cooking. But I think you can try using in non-veg curries. The other ingrediants like the whole clove, aniseed etc must be used to get the flavour and delicacy of our Indian food.
      Am I right Hetal and Anuja?

      Warm regards

    2. Hi Paula/Vandana,

      Yes, this masala can be used in any recipe that calls for a base of tomato, onion, ginger and garlic – veg or non-veg. Like Vandana said, this is a base masala. Different whole spices and powders can be used to create different flavors.

  29. Hi Ladies,

    Okay. Indian cooking 101 question coming up:

    Where do you use “masala” from this bulk recipe? I see (and purchase) pre-made chana masala, garam masala and one or two others, but I can’t figure out the relationship between those powers and this fresh/frozen masala.

    Thanks much!

    P.S. recently made your Roasted Eggplant Subzi. Very nice, but better the next day 🙂

  30. Hetal & Anuja,

    This is one excellent tip. My husband loves Chole and and I always struggled in the kitchen for hours prepping, when ever he asked me to make it. Now, I can make it in 20 min, thanks to this masala in bulk recipe. He absolutely loves it and I can spend more time with him rather than in the kitchen. Thanks a million :). By the way, I love your website, been a fan since a long time… Keep up the good work…

    Thanks again

  31. If I wanted to use tomato paste instead of crushed tomatoes, what proportion of onions to tomato paste would you suggest I use ?


    1. Hi Hetal/Anuja,
      I have the same question. Can I use tomato paste instead of crushed tomatoes and what would be the proportions?


  32. Hi Hetal and Anuja,

    After a long time I have understood the secret behind north indian taste!!! Like mentioned above by others i’d like to start off with a very small batch like say 1 packet. It would be very helpful if yu guys can tell us the proportions atleast for 1 pack so that we can multiply it for the remaining.

    Keep up the great work!


  33. Hi Hetal and Anuja,

    Thanks for this recipe. I am going to try this.

    I first want to try this in a smaller batch. So can you please let me know what the proportion of onion and tomato should be? I cant seem to calculate from the bulk measurement.


  34. hi thanks for the method ! can u please post a recipe for making 4 packets of this masala , so that beginners like me can dare to try this. it is so frightening to see that full pan of masala. if this small amount works well , we can follow the original recipe like u experts do. please sistas , help with the recipe :))

  35. hi,
    thank you ladies so much u have been an inspiration, i do have a question though, how long does the cooking take, cos i want to be sure as to when you know the oil separates, is it when you see it floating, also can yellow onions be used instead of red onions, thanks again?

  36. Hi Shital,

    The Indian store near my house has Ravi brand but I believe they are all pretty much similar (honestly, I have not tried out all of the brands out there). Many times, I buy the big container of peeled (big time saver) garlic from Costco and grind it myself and then use fresh ginger. It is definitely more time consuming but I figure that I am saving so much time with this masala that it’s worth it :). Love to the kids!


  37. Hey Hetalbhen,

    Which Ginger/Garlic Paste do you use? There are so many out there, which one would you recommend? Or do you make you own Ginger/ Garlic paste at home?

  38. hi anuja and hetal,

    This was a great video to help ppl like us. Could you also show us how to make garam masala powder for vegetarian curries .

  39. Hi Niha,

    The masala will last in India as it does here provided that there is no fluctuations in the electricity. If the temperature is kept constant at freezing levels, it should be fine.

  40. Hi Hetal and Anuja
    I have tried this masala and it came out excellent and I have used this in many recipes too. Now I am going to make a second batch of this again. BTW will this masala last in India(because of the hot weather there)as it would here for 3 or 4 months???

  41. Actually I had used food processor. btw, I used yellow onion not red onion because we use yellow onion in cooking. does that affect on taste? thanks for replying back.

    1. Hi Dina,Yes this will affect the taste there is acid in the white onions this is what stings your eyes when peeling. Red onions are much milder.

  42. Dina:

    Did you use a food processor or a blender? We recently learnt the hard way that sometimes when you mince the onions in a blender…the onions turn bitter. We really feel bad…let me know and we’ll get to the bottom of this.
    I have been making and freezing this masala for about 10 years now and usually use canned tomatoes (as they have some preservative) and I really don’t think that is the reason.

  43. Mike:
    I would not keep it over a week, max 10 days in the refrigerator.
    Regarding the flavor…fresh is always better, but the difference is insignificant and the convenience outweighs everything else. See what works out best for you. I make this big batch and split with a friend and it lasts me about 3-4 months. You can do a smaller batch and freeze less.

  44. Hi Anuja and Hetal,
    I made punjabi masala but it turned out bitter in taste. I think it is because of canned tomatoes. any idea to make it perfect(less bittery taste)? since i made it in large quantitiy, I do not want to waste money and my energy:) Thanks.

      1. Dear Anuja,

        From my experience, the bitter taste is a product of burned garlic. I’ve been experimenting with making the regular Punjabi curry paste at home for two years now, and was also bothered by the bitter taste of my curries at first. I then figured out that I cooked the garlic for too long. Garlic burns very fast, so it’s good to be careful when cooking it. Thanks for the great time saver recipe, I will make it soon!!

  45. If you didn’t want to freeze it, how long would it stay good refrigerated? Does it not lose any flavor frozen versus refrigerated? Thanks!

  46. yes, this new recipe is easy to follow and understand. I much prefer your new format where I don’t have to worry about trying to figure what you both say with your accents. sorry, not trying to be mean, but its true.

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