Masala Cream Cheese
30 Min

Masala Cream Cheese

Bagel and cream cheese have been not just a New York but an American staple breakfast for decades. When I first began to visit New York in the nineteen nineties, the amount of cream cheese that delis would smoosh in-between a toasted bagel would be almost 2 inches high. It would melt slightly, and I would lick every morsel of it off my fingers in utter delight. Before I embraced the more nuanced and funky aged cheeses like gruyere or even Parmesan and given that aged cheeses are practically non-existent in India, cream cheese became an easy favorite. Over the years, I’ve seen lots of flavored cream cheeses pop up in delis here in Texas and in New York, but most leave me longing for more flavor. So, I began to play around with infusing different masalas in cream cheese. The herb masala is one my kids adopted early on, they ate it with just crackers or toast or we put it in a sandwich. The tomato masala one is more of an adult version, especially with the addition of the hot chiles. While I seldom recommend consuming dried turmeric uncooked, in this case, the high fat content in the cream cheese balances the pungent flavors of ginger and turmeric. Here is a recipe for first creating a spreadable slightly fluffy seasoned cream cheese and next, you can choose three options of masalas to prepare.

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Cook Time

30 Min



To start:
Step 1
Let the cream cheese soften at room temperature for a few hours. In the bowl of a stand mixer using a paddle, combine the cream cheese with yogurt, salt, black pepper, lemon juice and sugar and mix on medium speed until the ingredients are fully incorporated and the cream cheese is fluffy and light ~ this will take 4 to 5 minutes.  Next, choose one of the three options of masalas to flavor it with.
Herb Masala:
Step 1
In a small frying pan over high heat, warm the olive oil and add the cumin seeds, kari leaves and green onions. Saute for 2 to 3 minutes until the onions have softened a bit. Set aside to cool. Then along with the serrano and herbs, stir into the seasoned cream cheese. Refrigerate the cream cheese until ready to eat.
Tomato Masala:
Step 1
In a small frying pan over high heat, warm the olive oi and add the mustard seeds, red bell pepper, garlic, and tomatoes. Cook on medium to low heat, stirring frequently until the mixture begins to boil and the tomatoes and peppers soften and reduce. Continue cooking until the juice from the tomatoes is almost dry, then stir in the Calabrian red chiles. Combine this with the seasoned cream cheese. Refrigerate the cream cheese until ready to eat.
Turmeric Masala:
Step 1
Stir the turmeric, cardamom, ginger, and honey into the seasoned cream cheese until completely incorporated. Refrigerate the cream cheese until ready to eat.


8 oz cream cheese

1/2 cup plain whole milk yogurt

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

Juice of half a lemon

1 teaspoon sugar

Herb Masala

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 teaspoon cumin seeds, slightly crushed with a rolling pin

Few kari leaves

1 cup green onions, white and green parts, sliced thin

1 serrano, minced

1 cup finely chopped mixed herbs like cilantro, sage, basil or parsley

Tomato Masala

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 teaspoon mustard seeds, slightly crushed with a rolling pin

1/2 red bell pepper, minced

1 teaspoon minced garlic

1 cup fresh tomatoes, finely chopped

1 tablespoon Calabrian chiles in oil

Turmeric Masala

1 tsp ground turmeric

1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom

1 tablespoon peeled grated ginger

1 tablespoon honey

Notes & Variations

  • If using canned tomatoes, use half a cup.
  • Use 1 teaspoon red chile powder in place of the Calabrian chiles in oil
  • I usually call for unpeeled ginger however in this case, to maintain the smooth flavor of the cream cheese, it is best peeled.
30 Min

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