This Mala Spice Mix is a combination of ground spices that add flavour with a spicy, tingly, numbing sensation. It's used predominantly in Sichuan cuisine, such as in my Spicy Cumin Lamb Noodles.
What is mala spice?
Mala spice is a seasoning that is commonly found in Chinese Sichuan cuisine.
In Chinese, "ma" refers to "numb" and "la" is "spicy."
Sichuan peppercorns and chili pepper are the main ingredients.
What are Sichuan peppercorns?
They are also known "mala pepper," or "flower pepper."
Sichuan peppercorns are not related to black, white peppercorns or chili peppers.
There are green and red varieties.
You can use Sichuan peppercorns whole or ground.
Sichuan peppercorns have a numbing, tingly sensation, due to the hydroxy-alpha sanshool molecule found inside.
What do they taste like?
Sichuan peppercorns have a citrusy aroma, and a tingly, numbing sensation.
It is said that the numbing effect helps to enhance the spiciness of foods.
Ingredients in the mix
Apart from Sichuan peppercorns and chili pepper, I've added a few additional spices to my Mala Spice mix.
When making your own Mala Spice mix, it's best to use whole spices and grind them fresh.
You'll get the best flavour this way.
Of course, if you're in a pinch, you can use the ground version of these spices:
- Sichuan peppercorns: looks like a small flower bud; it has a numbing, tingly sensation and is used commonly in Ma Po Tofu and Sichuan dishes
- red chili pepper flakes: a mix of seeds and dried chili pepper; adds heat
- cumin seed: sometimes confused with caraway, cumin has a earthy, warming flavour that is also used commonly in Mexican and Indian cuisine
- fennel seed: is a small lightly green/beige oval seed that is aromatic and has an anise flavour
- coriander seed: is a small round seed from the coriander/cilantro plant; has a lemony citrus flavour
- sea salt: or kosher salt, adds a savoury dimension to the spice mix
You can find these ingredients in Asian and Western supermarkets.
How to make it
Combine the ingredients together in a spice grinder and blitz until finely ground.
Transfer the contents to an airtight jar or container, until ready to use.
How to store
It's best to grind the spices in the Mala Spice Mix just prior to using.
The spices will lose their potency over a period of time.
However, you can store the mix in an airtight container in a dark and cool place for up to 2 weeks.
How to use
Use the Mala Spice mix as you would with salt and pepper, as a seasoning, similar to my Matcha Cumin Salt.
Try it sprinkled on noodles, potatoes/fries, fish/meat or over eggs.
Other recipes you may like
If you enjoyed this recipe, you may also like:
Be sure to let me know if you try out this recipe -- tag me on Instagram @siftandsimmer or leave me a comment/rating below!
Mala Spice Mix
For accuracy and precision in baking recipes, use weight (metric) measurements when available.
- 2 tablespoon Sichuan peppercorns red or green
- 2 tablespoon chili pepper flakes
- 1 tablespoon whole cumin seed
- 1 tablespoon whole fennel seed
- 1 tablespoon whole coriander seed
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- Combine the ingredients together in a spice grinder and blitz until finely ground.
- Transfer the contents to an airtight jar or container, until ready to use.
The nutritional information provided should be considered as approximate and is not guaranteed. Please use your best judgment to ensure food is safely prepared and/or a good fit for your diet.