Masala powders differ not only from family to family, but also from region to region, with masala powders in south India having different spices and a distinctive taste profile from those found in north India. For instance, meat masala powder from Kerala often includes fennel seed and nutmeg along with cardamom, clove, and cinnamon. North Indian meat masala typically includes cumin, coriander, and bay leaf.

Dry roasting whole spices before grinding them is essential to improve the flavour of the spices and to release their essential oils. It also increases the shelf-life of the meat masala masala powder. Dry roast meat masala ingredients over low heat to ensure that the spices do not burn or turn bitter.