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The masala blend at the heart of Maharashtrian cooking

Goda masala is best known for its sweet fragrant aroma, rich flavour and versatility

Goda masala can be used in a variety of curries, stews, and marinades.

By Swamini Narkar

LAST PUBLISHED 18.06.2023  |  03:00 PM IST

This summer, my mother took it upon herself to teach me how to cook. This may have been due to the fact that I had burned the afternoon chai or that I would “soon" be living on my own. Opening the spice box, a cornerstone in our kitchen, she pointed to a masala and said, “To become an expert in Maharashtrian cooking, you first need to be familiar with this one."  

Goda masala, which translates to sweet masala, is a special spice blend unique to the state, made by toasting and grinding spices together. Each household has its own signature recipe and the proportions of each spice vary from home to home.   

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However, some standard ingredients are dry red chillies, black peppercorns, cinnamon, star anise, bay leaf, and cardamom and desiccated coconut. A unique element is stone flower, or dagad phool, a soft brown and black coloured lichen which gives a signature black colour to the spice blend.   

We also add black sesame seeds, asafoetida, and fenugreek leaves to the goda masala at home. It's made once every week in my kitchen.  

Goda masala is essential in adding flavour and aroma to Maharashtrian foods, such as masale bhaat, a type of spiced rice with mixed vegetables, bharli vangi or stuffed brinjal, and forms the base of many different types of dal and sabzi.   

Another type of goda masala made in our household is the Konkani kind, due to my father’s ancestry being from a small village there. For this variation, sliced caramelized onions, fresh coconut, and cloves of garlic are also added to the mix of spices. This results in a thick paste that can be used as a marinade for different types of meats like chicken or fish, and to make vegetable curries too.  

Goda masala is the key ingredient in many of my comfort foods like misal which is a sprouts curry best eaten with bread, potato sabzi, and chicken curry. There is nothing better than eating a bowl full of amti, a type of dal spiced with goda masala, with warm steamed rice. Here is a recipe from my family for the spice mix:  

Goda Masala  

Ingredients 

8 tablespoons coriander seeds 

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6 tablespoons black sesame seeds 

5 tablespoons desiccated coconut 

3 tablespoons stone flower 

1 tablespoon fenugreek leaves 

One-fourth tablespoon asafoetida 

2 teaspoons vegetable oil  

1 teaspoon black peppercorns 

4 to 5 dry red chillies  

3 green cardamoms  

3 to 4 star anise  

3 to 4 bay leaves  

3 to 4 cinnamon sticks  

Method  

  1. Heat the oil in a small frying pan.  
  2. Add coriander seeds and roast on low heat until they become dark brown. 
  3. Add sesame seeds and roast for another 10 minutes. 
  4. Add the rest of the spices, chillies, and desiccated coconut and roast till the spices become fragrant.   
  5. Take off the pan from the heat, and let the mixture cool.   In a spice grinder or mixer, grind the ingredients together.  
  6. Store in an airtight jar and use for up to a month.     
  7. Add in curries or sabzi for extra flavour.