The spice blends which are central to Maharashtrian cooking are the Goda Masala and the Kala Masala. These spice blends are used to flavor a variety of vegetable, poultry, meat, sea-food and lentil preparations; and each family usually has its own variation on the recipe, that is passed on through the generations.
Growing up in the same culture, I never truly understood the big difference between the two spice blends; as they more or less give similar results in curries and dals when used interchangeably. Moreover, I also found most people using the two terms to mean the same thing. So, I started asking family members and other foodies; and also read through some other articles on the matter to understand what is truly the difference between the two, if there really was any.
It appears that most of the spices used in both the spice blends are more or less the same; but the difference lies in the degree to which the ingredients are roasted; for the ingredients are roasted lightly for making Goda Masala, in comparison to Kala Masala where ingredients are fried and roasted much more strongly. Also, it seems like chillies are not used in the Goda Masala; while ingredients like sesame and poppy seeds are not used in the Kala Masala. While these differences may exist, I believe they do not lead to much variation in terms of net flavor of the spice blend; as the main flavors in the blends are dominated by dagad phool (rock flower, a sort of lichen), jaipatri (mace) and nag keshar (cobra’s saffron), while coriander seeds form the base of both the blends. The mixture is very robustly spicy, and used in very small quantities in the preparation of a variety of vegetables, lentils or even meat and sea-food curries.
The recipe I have shared here is that of Kala Masala, that is prepared in my family and the proportions written here are to make the spice blend to easily suffice for a family of 4-5 people for the entire year’s supply. The spices are traditionally hand-pounded using large mortars and pestles and that would be the ideal way to make it to preserve the flavor and aroma better; but I chose to use the modern convenience of the electric grinder in the interest of time.
1kg Coriander seeds (Dhane/Dhaniya);
250g dried Coconut (Suke Khobre/ sukha Nariyal);
100g dried Red Chillies (Lal Mirchi);
100g Cumin Seeds (Jeera);
50g Rock flower lichen (Dagad phool/Patthar phool);
50g Black Pepper (Kali miri/Kali mirch);
50g dried Bay Leaves (Tamal patra/Tej patta);
50g Mace (Jaipatri/ Javitri);
25g Black Cardamom (Masala elaichi/ badi elaichi);
25g Black Cumin seeds (Shahjeere/ Shahi jeera);
25g Cinnamon (Dalchini);
25g Cloves (Lavang/Laung);
25g Star Anise (Chakriphool);
25g Cobra’s saffron/ Ceylon ironwood (Nag Keshar/ Nagchampa);
5g Asafoetida solids (Hing Khada);
2 g Turmeric Powder (Haldi).
~ 250ml Peanut Oil (or any other refined oil) for frying or roasting the spices.