Masala literally and just means “spiced”. In the west Masala is generally assumed to involve tomato or that it is a specific type of Indian sauce, but this is not the case (Masala is tomato based in the Punjab, but not in other regions of India). There are two main types of Masala, but every region will produce a different variety depending on the kind of ingredients that are used in that region. For example Goa and other south Indian states use coconut, while in the north-west where the Persians moved into the country more dried fruit has been introduced into the dishes.
Godha – This Masala sauce does not use chilli, but is highly pungent due to its heavy use of cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg and ginger. With good quality spices this Masala is hot in its own right! It tends to be a shade of brown.
Tikha – This is generally a hotter masala due to its primary use of chilli as the main ingredient and so it is generally red in colour.
There are also pre-packaged masala mixes that can be used for meat or fish. The spices in each are designed to not overpower, but compliment the ingredients that are being cooked with. Masala spice is in powdered for and so can be varied in exact proportions and this is necessary for the fundamental sauce, which is the base of the majority of Indian gravy (often also known as Masala sauce).