The Goda Masala and Kala Masala | Misappropriated Maharashtrian Masalas

Written by: Aditi Gupta



Time to read 4 min

Maharashtrian Flavours With Goda Masala and Kala Masala

In a country like India where the flavors are as distinguished as the 28 states that make the union, there is a lot of diversity in our spices. The north, south, west and east each have their herbs and spices that are popular because of certain taste palettes. As it happens with diversity, there is always a chance of a certain misappropriation of the culinary ingredients.
Indian food is going places now, and so are Indians. A lot of the population migrates internally between different states for livelihood, work and social interactions. This has led to a lot of myth-busting and appreciation for the regional gems and rare recipes from different parts of the country.
One such cuisine that is very diverse and rich and yet remains exotic and undiscovered is the Maharashtrian cuisine. While every Indian knows and appreciates the street food that is available in the state, very few people know and appreciate the distinguished flavours in the Marathi kitchen staples.

Goda Masala and Kala Masala| The Black & White of Marathi Cuisine

Regional blends like goda masala and kala masala from Maharashtra are two such spices. Believe it or not as a North Indian I was unaware of their existence. When I got introduced to the two I thought they were just a regional classification for the omnipresent Garam Masala. Now that I live in Karnataka I have realized two things :

1.) Garam masala is not omnipresent or omnipotent! ( hard to accept but true )
2.) There exist blends and spices that are very distinctive to a region and hence it is ignorant to think that all blends lead to the same flavour.

Topologically too it makes sense, that there will always be some plants that favour the black soil found in the southern region of India over the alluvial soil. The more I looked into the regional kitchens the more I realized that some very distinctive raw ingredients are rarely used in cooking in the North, South or East. One of them is the Dagad Phool (stone flower), and another rare Indian ingredient is Naga Keshar -from the ironwood tree. These rare herbs used even in small quantities are so flavorsome that they add ad distinct punch to any Indian curry.
The kala masala is lent its strong aroma by the dagad phool. These are more commonly known as Kalpasi in the North. These are lichens that have no flavor in their natural form but when heated they produce a nutty earthy aroma that is very distinctive to the kala masala. Similarly one of the most prominent ingredients in the goda masala is the Naag Keshara . Goda masala is a sweeter masala with desiccated coconut and sesame seeds adding a nutty aroma and flavour to the blend. The blend also contains star anise and caraway seeds ( shahi jeera) making it different from the other spice blends that are available in India.

Differentiating between kala & goda masala

Goda masala | Uses & Flavor profile

The word ‘Goda’ means sweet and as the ingredient list suggests, Goda masala is used as an aromatic as well as a flavour enhancer. There is an array of dishes in which goda masala is the magical ingredient : 

  • Sweet Pepper Sabzi: A dish made from bell peppers without any onions or garlic, the rich flavour of goda masala is enough to tickle your taste buds.
  • Turichya Danyachi Usal: Pigeon green beans are mixed with desiccated coconut, goda masala and kokum berry to create this flavourful dish.
  • Vatana Usal: White peas curry with a spicy flavour that kicks your taste buds, the sweetness of goda masala balances out the spicy curry, thus creating a balanced yet bold flavour.
  • Farasbi chi Bhaji: a dish made of beans that goes well with Indian breads.

Kala Masala | Uses & Profile

As the name suggests Kala Masala is a darker spice with all roasted masalas blended to create an aromatic masala with a subtle, peppery taste.The term "Kala" (Black) is derived from the unique process of dark roasting whole spices and dry coconut, imparting a distinctive smoky flavor to the dish. The traditional method of pounding whole spices results in a coarse texture, preserving the authentic, time-honored taste. The color makes it susceptible to being confused for the garam masala, but the stone flowers give it a distinct aroma that is different from any other spice blend. Kala masala is used in dishes such as :Bharli Vangi: stuffed brinjals seasoned with kala masala have a unique flavour different from the stuffed vegetables cooked in other regions.Solapuri Kala Masala Chicken: Chicken is a fairly adaptable meat, this peppery curry tastes like no other and the main spice ingredient is just what the name alludes to.Bhaji: This is a more widely known dish, replacing the garam masala with the kala masala in the potato-based gravy gives it the authentic Marathi flavour.A lot of Khandeshi dishes use the kala masala. Khandeshi cuisine is the hottest cuisine in Maharashtra, a lot of Kolhapuri and Solapuri curries borrow their quintessential hotness from the kala masala that is widely used in the Khandeshi cuisine.

Making the Goda masala and Kala masala :

Many Marathi households in Maharashtra still source the locally available ingredients for making the Kala Masala and the goda masala. A lot of local brands sell packaged spice, but very few recipes can do justice to the authentic flavours of the spice blend.
It is ironical that what makes these masalas authentic and distinguished is leading to their disappearance from the Maharashtrian kitchens of people who are moving away from the state. The ingredients can be hyperlocal in terms of availability and even if you find them outside of their natural topological environment, you cannot preserve the flavours.
At Home Kouzina we cracked this spice supply chain by relying on able home chefs like Pratibha Shinde and their traditional recipes. Our chefs procure the locally available ingredients from the local farmers and stores and make their spice blends which we meticulously test, pack and seal to preserve their flavours. Opening a Home Kouzina masala box means that you are not going to compromise either on the authenticity or the freshness of your masala.
Bring these rare Maharashtrian masala back to the kitchens of India with Home Kouzina, because we will not let you forget your culinary roots.

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