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On Maharashtra Day, relish our regional masalas

What better reason to discover the diverse food palates of Maharashtra than on May 1. Kanika Sharma scouts for heady aromatic concoctions from various communities across the state, to understand how through the same spices, magic is created in every household

Goda or Kala masala: Goda masala is particular to the Brahmin community. As per Santosh Khamkar, of RB Khamkar & Sons, Lalbaug, “Coriander is the overarching flavour.” Mohsina Mukaddam, food historian at Ramnarain Ruia College, tells us, “Summers are the best time to dry the chillis and get the garam masala grounded.” Garlic is avoided in the masala as per the community’s diet norms. The masala is darkish in colour (as seen in the picture) which is due to “the addition of dagad phool (lichen)” according to Saee Koranne, food blogger. The spice gives the masala an earthy flavour and colour. She adds, “The addition of eel-roasted dried coco-nut also contributes to a slightly nutty aroma called khamang that a discerning Maharash-trian palate looks out for.” Koranne also tells us that it is often used along with a souring agent such as kokum or tamarind and jaggery for balance. Common uses of the masala are: traditional Aamti (daal) and Bharli Vaangi.


Masala Menu: (Anti-clockwise): Goda masala (brown in colour), Malwan masala, fish masala, Sunday masala, Kolhapuri masala with turmeric powder in the middle.  

Kolhapuri Masala: Kolhapuri red chillis or Lavangi are world-famous for their fiery nature and characterise this masala. In Koranne’s words, the spice mix is slightly “clumpy” and comprises roasted garlic and onions counterbalanced by hot spices. Koranne further shares, “The masala is famously used in Kolhapuri Misal with a “kut” or thin broth that shimmers with the oily slick of the spice mix as well as a few traditional vegetable and goat meat preparations.” In Kolhapuri Tambada Rassa — as Chef Vijay Malhotra of ITC’s Peshwa Pavilion shares — Bedgi chillis are another particularity.


The RB Khamkar and Sons store boasts of Malwani, Konkani, Agri, Ghati, Saoji, Goda/Kala, Koli, CKP and fish masala. Pics/Sayed Sameer Abedi

Malwani masala: Black pepper is a unanimously overpowering agent in Malwani cuisine of the Konkan region. Khamkar shares that poppy seeds act as  a counter-balancing flavour. Koranne informs, “What contributes to the well-rounded flavours of these curries is the Malwani masala, a garam-masala style spice mix that is set apart with the addition of lichen as well as cobra saffron and surprisingly, a hint of the sweet spice, nutmeg. These are lightly roasted and ground together and added to non-vegetarian preparations. Common uses include Chicken Sukka.”

Koli masala: The fisherfolk of the Western coast are primarily Kolis and Agris, according to Khamkar. The former add cinnamon, sesame and cumin seeds generously while the Agris avoid aniseeds. Koranne avers, “They make a hot blend of 18 odd spices to add flavour, heat, and body to their otherwise sparse fish and vegetable curries. These act as excellent marinades in combination with freshly grated coconut.” Prawns Koliwada and Pomfret Fry are made with this masala.

Saoji masala: “Varhadi or Saoji cuisine, from the central regions of Maharashtra (a major portion of which is Nagpur) is known for its intensely spiced non-vegetarian fare,” says Koranne. Known for its hot nature, poppy seeds and coconut are added to dull this mix. Saoji mutton is famous with this masala.

Mutton Special Thali at Mi Maratha restaurant at Lower Parel specialises in Maharashtrian fare. (Anti-clockwise): Mutton Sukha (Kolhapur), Tambada Rassa (Kolhapur), Usal (across the state), Pandhra Rassa (Kolhapur), Mutton Kheema (Irani addition) and Sol Kadi (Konkan) with raita, three chapattis and rice. . 

Did you know?
>>
“Each Brahmin community has their own interpretation of the Goda masala, and uses it differently. Kokanastha brahmins with coconut; the Deshastha brahmins with peanuts. The Pathare-Prabhu community, the first settlers in Mumbai, have their mixes for non-vegetarian preparations. Aurangabad is greatly influenced by Mughal ways of cooking, with fresh herbs and spices thanks to its history, while Solapur tends to use peanuts in combination with chilies in its cooking,” says Koranne.  
>> Chef Malhotra shares that the Chandrasena Kayastha Prabhu (CKP) caste also has its particular masala that belongs to the Thane belt. Aniseeds and coriander are predominant, Khamkar adds.
>> Historian Mukkadam shares that the fiery nature of the masalas are considered beneficial to sweat out toxins in summer.
>> After the masala is made in this season, natural preservatives such as Irani hing (in the form of a stone), wheat, chana dal, and uncooked rice are added. The masalas are made by dry roasting the ingredients or are roasted
in oil.
>> The original word for masalas was ‘vesvar’ in Marathi; now Vesvar masala is made for lactating mothers. 

The Guidebook
BUY THE SPICES RB Khamkar
& Sons, Lalbaug New Market,
Dr Ambedkar Road, Lalbaug.
call 24711163
GET YOUR SPICES GROUNDED HERE Sanjeevani Masala Centre, Prabhadevi Naka, Prabhadevi.
CALL 24318906
GET YOUR MAHARASHTRIAN thali FIX Mi Maratha, GK Marg, next to Peninsula Corporate Park, Lower Parel.
call 24930345
MAHARASHTRA DAY special Peshwa Pavilion, ITC Maratha, Sahara Road, Andheri (E).
call 28303030 COST R1,650
TO FOLLOW THE FOOD BLOGGER www.myjhola.in

Grind your own special masala
One half of the masalas comprise garam masala made from more than 25 spices such as coriander, turmeric, poppy seeds, clove, mace, nutmeg, cinnamon, lichen, star anise, bay leaf, and more.

The other half consists of red chillies of which seven kinds are available at Lalbaug’s RB Khemkar & Sons. These include Kashmiri, Bedgi, Guntur, Pandi, Lavangi, Reshampatti, Madras and Sankeshwari.

Dhananjay Ingalkar of Sanjeevani Masala Centre operates a kandup machine that grinds masalas. He was the first to stock this technology in the city.

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1 Comments

  • Ankita Mehra 03-May-2014

    That's a really great insight about the food culture here of the Maharashtrians. Surely, the most under-rated with such incredible variety, nowhere to be seen in the nation, I guess.

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