In Maharashtra the practice of making spice blends at home is prevalent in every region. The spice blends are made and bottled with utmost care so that it stores well for rest of the year.
Though many spices may be common in these spice blends, it differs in some spices and the way it is handled in these blends. Different ways of processing it-dry roasting, sun-drying, shallow frying, deep oil frying are some of the different ways in which these spices are used and this difference results into different spice blends of different regions. Each being flavorful, aromatic and is the soul of that region of Maharashtra.
Let’s examine starting from the coastal region of Maharashtra – Malvani Masala represents the Goan-Konkani cuisine, Koli Masala is the pride of Mumbai’s first resident Aagri-Koli community. The city of great Maratha warriors, Kolhapur boasts of their spicy blend Kanda Lasun Masala which is the heart of Kolhapuri cuisine along with its brave history. While most of these spice blends are high on spice quotient, there is a unique spice blend which mostly comprises of sweet spices- Goda Masala. This spice blend is too common in Brahmin communities of Maharashtra, and is used by them in their preparations of Usal, Masala Bhat and Pulao recipes.
Being a Konkani by birth, I have grown up to annual rituals of making Malwani Masala at home. Every year, Mom would make these masalas during my summer vacations. My holidays lend me an interesting opportunity to witness the entire exercise first hand. In those days, one would be laughed at if seen buying even chili powders from store, forget about buying these spice blends (I am not even sure if they were available in any of the stores). Every household would have a small area where they would put the red chilies to dry in the sun, possibly spread on an old bedsheet. Then the spices would be roasted/dried /fried and mixed together. It would then be transported to a shop which had huge machinery to pound and ground these masalas into powder (mixers and grinders at home were not as prevalent back then). Humor would often slip in the conversations when ladies would get together to make these Masalas. My Aunt’s would often joke in Malvani “Majha sona ghe pan majhya masalyala haat lavuche nai” which means “You can ask me for my gold and money, but don’t implore for my masala”.
I have shared most of the Masalas in my earlier posts. I can tell you from my experience documenting and making a Masala recipe video is one of the hardest things to do. The amount of research that goes into making a final recipe is immense and it goes without saying I have numerous folks to thank to in this endeavor. My Mom, in-laws, aunts, friend’s mom and immense reading of cookbooks are some of the sources that have helped me in this effort.
After having posted most of the Maharashtrian masala recipes, I was looking for recipe of Kala Masala. Sadly, there is hardly a mention of this Masala in any popular cookbooks so I had to study and obtain this recipe the harder way- talking to people. To name few of them, Sharvari, my old-time friend who has now migrated to Australia from Pune. She understands my passion for food and was very generous in sharing the handwritten recipe that was documented many decades ago by her grandmother in her recipe diary. Though I couldn’t get to see the real hard copy of the recipe, which must have been an experience in itself for me to cherish for my life, she took a picture and sent it to me on WhatsApp. I got another recipe from My Land lady who took pains to sit down and narrate the ingredients and their approximate measurements. Finally, my domestic help, Vithatai was more than forth coming when I asked her for the recipe of Solapuri Kala Masala. She, very lovingly, connected me to her sister in law who stays in Akluj in Solapur and over a long telephonic call, we finalized the recipe. These numerous different interactions have helped me understand the subtle nuances between Varhadi Kala Masala and Solapuri Kala Masala. It has also helped me clarify my doubts regarding the differences between Goda Masala and Kala Masala (one of the widely spread myth is that they are same with just different names)
Here’s the recipe of Kala masala straight from the rural heartlands of Maharashtra. In weeks to come, I will be publishing recipes that make use of this Masala. Stay tuned!
Serves: 550 gms
- To be Dry roasted: (1-8)
- 8 gms Cumin Seeds
- 8 gms Poppy Seeds
- 8 gms Fennel Seeds
- 8 gms Mustard Seeds
- 3 gms Black Cumin Seeds
- 8 gms White Sesame Seeds
- 1-2 gms Nutmeg
- 3 gms Dried Lichen
- To be Shallow fried (9-21)
- 100 gms Byadagi Red Chilies
- 150 gms Pandi Red Chilies-can be replaced with Sankeshwari or Lavangi
- 3 gms Cinnamon Stick
- 3 gms Mace
- 3 gms Star Anise
- 3 gms Black Cardamom
- 3 gms Mugwort
- 3 gms NagKesar
- 3 gms Teppal
- 3 gms Black Peppercorns
- 2 gms Fenugreek Seeds
- 3 gms Cloves
- 3 gms Green Cardamom
- To be Deep Oil fried: - (22-28)
- 60 gms dry coconut
- 70 gms Onions (thinly sliced)
- 5 gms Asafoetida
- 3 gms Dry Ginger (Sonth)
- 10 gms Turmeric root
- 5 gms Bay Leaf
- 50 gms Whole Coriander Seeds
- Other Ingredients:
- Cooking Oil
- 1 tbsp Natural Sea Salt
- We will dry roast ingredients now (1-8). Heat a Pan and roast all ingredients one by one. While roasting, heat must be low-medium. Roast until it begins to emit a pleasant aroma or it becomes evenly light brown in color.
- Allow the dry roasted ingredients to cool down completely.
- In a large Pan, heat 2 tbsp Cooking Oil. We will shallow fry ingredients one by one (check ingredients to be shallow fried. 9-21). Shallow fry on low-medium heat. Fry until the spices begin to emit a pleasant aroma. We will fry Chilies (both) until it turns crisp
- Allow the shallow fried spices to cool down completely.
- Heat ½ cup Oil in a Pan. Lower the heat and fry ingredients one by one. Fry the ingredients until it becomes light brown in color
- After spices have cooled down, grind them in batches. We will start with grinding of dry roasted ingredients. Then grind shallow fried ingredients, deep fried ingredients and finally grind dry red chili. Now grind chilies. Also add Natural Sea Salt while grinding
- All the spice powders are grounded and ready- chili powder, dry roasted spice powder, shallow fried spice powder and deep fried spice powder. Add dry roasted spice powder and mix well. These are spicy powders so always wear gloves while handling it. Add shallow fried and deep fried spice powders and mix well.
- Kala Masala is ready now. It weighs approx. 550 gms (537gms)
- Store in an air-tight container in a cool and dry place. Remember to put a Asafoetida crystal for longer storage of Masala. It can become spoilt in hot and humid conditions. At hot and humid room temperature, you can also refrigerate the Kala Masala Powder in an air tight container or a zip-loc bag.
- Tip of the Day: I would like to share a tip for browning of Onions. Put sliced Onions to dry under the sun for 2-3 hours. It helps in getting rid of moisture from the Onions. Also you will take much lesser time to brown the Onions evenly. Do try out this tip whenever you got to brown a large batch of Onions.
Click to watch recipe video