Kumbakonam Race Masala Powder

Yes, you heard me right! 🙂 There is a yet another context in which the word “Race” can be used, other than horse races and human races 🙂 and that, is an interesting masala powder used in Kumbakonam area of Tamil Nadu! I’m not sure if this is a preparation specific to the Sourashtrian community.

I was introduced to this preparation through my mother in law who is from Kumbakonam. Though I got to know about this masala almost 10 years ago, I never bothered to make it until recently. When a discussion was started in a FB group by a fellow blogger Radhika Vasanth about the different curry powders used by our community people, that’s when I got reminded of this and asked my mother in law about it 🙂 This is a very aromatic masala powder and is usually used to make a Mutton Kheema Race (Curry) or a Vegetarian Race using potatoes and peas. The curries taste delicious and will leave you licking your fingers for a long time! 🙂 Try it and you will fall in love with it! 🙂 Now, off to the recipe straight without any further delay!

Recipe source: Partly from mother in law. She hadn’t exactly written down the spice measures, so tried a combination myself and find it good enough for us.

Time required:

Assembling time: 5 minutes, Roasting time: 10 minutes

Grinding time: 5 minutes plus cooling time

Yield: 1 and a 1/4 Cup

Kumbakonam race masala

Ingredients of the Kumbakonam race masala


  1. 1 Cup of Coriander seeds
  2. 1 Cup of Red Chillies
  3. 2 Tbsp of Poppy seeds
  4. A large handful of Channa dal
  5. 3 Tbsp of Cardamom pods
  6. 3 Inches of Cinnamon
  7. 5-6 Cloves
  8. A small piece of Nutmeg
  9. A few pieces of Mace
  10. A Star Anise


Dry roast everything separately, allow to cool down and grind in a mixie or spice mill or a coffee grinder to as fine a powder as possible. Cool it completely before storing in an airtight container.

Kumbakonam race masala

Kumbakonam race masala


  1. If you do not happen to have all the spices listed, feel free to add or delete according to availability and preference, This is only a rough guide.
  2. This Masala can be used to make Race preparations (Recipe will follow soon), kurmas and also some dry curries.
  3. A couple of days back, I used this powder to make vegetable biryani and it tasted great!
  4. I have been using this for making quick Paneer bhurjis in the morning rush for my kid. I don’t have to add multiple masalas that way 🙂
  5. This powder will stay fresh for upto a month. If you need to store longer, freezing helps in preserving the aroma.
  6. If you can handle the heat, you may choose to increase the red chillies by another quarter cup.
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12 thoughts on “Kumbakonam Race Masala Powder

  1. Hema Kochi

    Looks like Madurai curry powder (amti bhurko), mai. Will try some time.

    • Priya

      Bei, this tastes quite different from the Madurai amty bhurko because of the spices we add. And it does not have much thickeners also (like urad dal and rice in Madurai powder), so requires additional things like cashew paste or roasted gram paste to thicken the curry. Do give it a shot, you will like it 🙂

      • dr.malathi

        wow, looks gud. i’ll try it out.

  2. Wow looks good dear! I think i should take up assignments for food photography!

    • Priya

      Thanks 🙂 maybe u shd!

  3. Subbalekshmi

    definitely looks interesting…. races are commonly made with pineapple, bananas or mango in kerala. it is an integral part of the sadya in south kerala..they are basically sweet sour and spicy side dishes…am also tempted to start blogging but then you know how lazy I am 😉

    • Priya

      Oh this is good info Subba. I think it may taste like Pineapple patchadi what they make in Karnataka. This particular Race powder is used to make spicy, creamy curries. You have a great command of the language n would make a great blogger 🙂

  4. anju

    Interesting…..wil try sumtime……

  5. K.V.Pathy

    Krishna Priya Praveen, yE kummON ‘Race Masala’ tumre MIL konga jovvaL sikkiliyaas meni pusi savo.
    tumre MIL, tenga bei, dada (Jawahar) askin nhenna pillalkan rhata mii honde ghEruk mhaddi keTTum honde oNTe bei senta avi khoLLEt rhaan. tye bei srii K.V.Ramaswami ( tumre MIL’s father) ghommo handap chef. tenuus yE ‘Race’ aski sikkaDi diirhaan.

    • Priya

      This recipe has been handed down to my mother in law through her great grandmother and her aunt 🙂

  6. Ramya

    What a neat perfectly written receipe 🙂 Am so glad to replicate and pretty happy with the outcome.. Aroma filling my house is just awesome.. Will make kurma and update the feedback.. Thanks Priya!

  7. Rani

    Ha I’m from Kumbakonam and didn’t know such a wonderful race powder exists. Thanks for sharing and my special thanks to ur mom in law. Kindly post more kumman recipes eager to learn.

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