A word used throughout India for a spice blend with myriad variations. It can refer to a simple combination of two or three spices (such as cardamom, coriander and mace) or a complex blend of 10 or more ingredients. The principal masala blend used in India is garam masala, the variations of which are countless, depending on the cook and the dish being seasoned.
From The Food Lover's Companion, Fourth edition by Sharon Tyler Herbst and Ron Herbst. Copyright © 2007, 2001, 1995, 1990 by Barron's Educational Series, Inc.