A masala is a blend of spices – it may contain two or three, or a dozen or more. It may be added to the dish, whole or ground, at different stages of cooking. The flavours can be mild and fragrant or more highly spiced, depending on the dish in which the masala is to be used. The spices for the masalas are usually dry-fried before grinding, which greatly enhances their flavour.
Biryani masala This is a mixture of spices specifically used for a range of southern Asian rice dishes prepared with meat or vegetables. The ingredients are usually layered and the dish baked to infuse the flavours together. Typical ingredients for biriyani masala include cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, coriander, nutmeg, fennel, mace, black cardamom, caraway, and star anise. Premium varieties of biriyani masala sometimes contain saffron.
Culinary uses This spice mixture gives the dish a sweet, warm aroma and the taste is savoury and not too spicy.