If you ask me what the quintessential of Maharashtrian cooking is, ‘Goda Masala’ would be the first thing to pop in my head. Goda Masala, aka Kala Masala, is the characteristic spice mix used in everyday Maharashtrian cooking. Like South Indians have Sambar masala that defines and distinguishes the region’s food, we have this rhapsody of nutty, earthy, almost citrusy mix of spices. This masala is mild and aromatic, toned down by toasty, sweet dry coconut; hence the name Goda - meaning Sweet - masala. It gets its other name, Kala (Black) masala, for its dark roasted, almost black color.
Goda masala is great to add flavor to any vegetable or curry, like this; and it is what makes Maharashtrian lentil curry known as amati oh so aromatic and 'khamang' (has anyone found an equivalent to this word in English??). The masala is mild enough to use in daily cooking. Most of the dishes I prepare in my kitchen are incomplete without it. So instead of loading my bags with perishable sweets and fried snacks on my India visits, I get a big ziplock full of mom's freshly prepared Goda masala and other such goodies! Now that I can experiment right here in my kitchen under her supervision, I thought it was time to learn the art of masala-making.
Making Goda masala is an act of patience. My mom told me that each spice in the mix had different roasting time in order to get the most flavor and fragrance. You can't just put them all in one pan. The spices need to be roasted on low flame and need constant stirring. The spices are complex and you can't rush through the process; but the outcome will literally give you a sensory orgasm.
Maharashtrian Goda Masala/Kala Masala
1 Cup coriander seeds
1/2 Cup cumin seeds
1/2 Cup sesame seeds
1/2 Tspn cloves
1/2 Tspn black peppercorns
2-3 Cardamom pod seeds
1 Inch cinnamon stick
2 Large bay leaves
1 Tspn fenugreek seeds
1/2 Tspn mustard seeds
1/2 Tspn shah jeera (Black cumin)
2-3 Dagad phool (Black Stone flower)
2-3 Badi ilaichi (Black cardamom)
1/2 Cup dry coconut (thinly sliced)
3/4 Tspn asafoetida powder
3/4 Tspn turmeric powder
1 Tspn vegetable oil
- Heat a kadhai/pan on low-medium flame. Add shah-jeera and mustard seeds and roast until the mustard seeds start to splutter, stirring constantly. After roasting each batch of spices, add them to a one container all together.
- Roast sesame seeds until golden brown.
- Then roast the coriander seeds and cumin seeds until coriander seeds become a dark brown and give off citrus-like fragrance.
- Roast fenugreek seeds for a short while until they turn reddish brown.
- Add a little bit of oil to the pan and roast cloves, peppercorn, cardamom, cinnamon, bay leaves, dagad phool, badi ilaichi and shah jeera in it until all the spices become aromatic. The bay leaves will turn a reddish brown, and the cloves and peppercorn will puff up.
- After all of these spices, roast dry coconut until it turns a beautiful brown. This is what makes the masala 'Goda' or sweet and gives a wonderful toasty flavor.
- Add asafoetida and turmeric powders to these whole spices and grind to a fine powder.
- Store in an air-tight container in a cool and dry place.
Each person alters the measurements of spices based on his/her liking. I've grown to love the flavor of my mom's masala, which is roasted enough to get the full flavor out of the spices yet doesn't turn black and taste burned. By teaching this masala, I felt like my mom was passing down a part of our family tradition and I hope to pass it along some day in the future!