Kaala masala

Kaala masala is a spice mixture native to the state Maharashtra in India. Kaala masala is included in a lot of typicaly everyday Maharashtrian foods, such as varan, usal and masala bhat.

Several different recipes exist for kaala masala. Examples of very common ingredients are coconut, chillies, clove, kalpasi (dagad phool), cumin seeds, coriander seeds, sesame seeds, and cinnamon sticks.

In the Marathi language, kaala means black, so kaala masala means black spice mix. Kaala masala contains ingredients that make the final product dark, such as cloves and cinnamon, and the spices are typically roasted which makes them extra dark.

Kaala masala - Mumbai Masala

Recipe for kaala masala

There are many different versions of kaala masala, with different ingredients lists and different methods for the preparation. Below, you will find one example of a popular recipe.

Ingredients to fry in oil

  • 1 cup coriander seeds
  • 1/8 cup cumin seeds
  • 1/8 cup dagad phool
  • 3/4 tea spoon caraway seeds
  • 1/2 tea spoon mustard seeds
  • 1/2 tea spoon cloves
  • 1/4 tea spoon fenugreek seeds
  • 2 grams asafoetida
  • 1-2 sticks of cinnamon

Ingredients to dry roast

  • 1/4 cup desiccated coconut
  • 1/8 cup sesame seeds

Other ingredients

  • Oil
  • 1/4 cup chilli powder
  • 1/4 tea spoon turmeric powder

Instructions

  1. Heat a small amount of oil in a large skillet over medium heat.
  2. Fry the ingredients from the “ingredients to fry in oil” list in the oil. Stirr frequently to prevent burning. If you don´t have a large skillet, divide the ingredients into several portions and fry each portion separately.
  3. Place the fried ingredients on a plate to cool.
  4. Place coconut and sesame seeds in a dry skillet and dry roast them. Stirr frequently. Set aside to cool on a plate.
  5. Grind all the ingredients together using a mortar and pestle. (Or use a very clean coffee grinder.) The end result should be a smooth powder.
  6. Store in an air-tight container in a dark and cool place.

What is kalpasi / dagad phool?

The ingredient kalpasi comes from the lichen Parmotrema perlatum, also known as Black stone flower (but it is not a flower, it is a lichen). In the Marathi language, it is called dagad phool.

This species of lichen grows in temperate regions and is found in both the Northern and Southern hemispheres.

Kalpasi is included in many Indian masalas, including Kaala masala and East Indian Bottle Masala. It brings a dark colour and an earthy flavour to a spice mix.

People who make their own kala masala will usually grill the kalpasi with a little oil in a pan first, to help it release its flavour.

Other names for kalpasi

  • Sanskrit: Shaileyam
  • Hindi: Pathar ka phool, Dagad Phool
  • Tamil: Kalpasi, Marapasi
  • Malayalam: Adal Poove, Celeyam, Kalpuvu
  • Kannada: Kalahu, Kaluhuva
  • Urdu: Riham karmani