When we were kids, my sister and I spent our summer holidays at our grandparents’ home in a small village called Dehene. We’d spend the mornings watching farmers work in their fields while we sipped on the sweet water of fresh coconuts or run about like little hooligans in the village streets dropping in unannounced into someone’s house to be treated to a piece of ‘ganna’ and calling out like raucous birds exhorting our friends to join us at play. Exhausted and exhilarated in equal measure with all that play, we would then lie in the courtyard in the afternoons, trying to cool ourselves under the shade of the big gnarled tree which was as much a part of the family as was Moti, the ancient mongrel that would invariably be found lying next to it. Lazily fanning ourselves we would watch Maa diligently dry several fragrant spices on white cotton cloth and then pound them on a large mortar with a long wooden pestle. She’d sing quaint songs which matched the beat of the mortar and tell us about the various spice blends that made her dishes unique.
Cooking my maa’s dishes in my kitchen is my way of reliving my childhood and keeping my Marathi culinary legacy alive. Here are some of the famous maharashtrian masalas that I strongly urge all young and new home chefs to have in their magic masala box:
Goda Masala is possibly the best-loved and most used masala in a Marathi kitchen. This slightly sweet blend of aromatic spices with khade masale, coconut, sesame, and red chilli is perfect for dishes like Bharli Vaangi, Masale Bhaat, and even the ubiquitous Amti.
Apart from its rich history, the Malvani masala taluka is known for its wonderful spices. This spice blend is truly the secret ingredient in the fiery and peppery dishes from the palm-fringed Konkan coast. The garam masala, mustard, pepper, cinnamon, red chilli, and coriander make Kombdi Vade and Tallele Maase perfect.
The East Indian community of Maharashtra has cherished this 28-spice blend for generations and guards its unique recipe zealously. Every family has its own secret version for Bottle Masala. The succulent East Indian Pork Sorpotel and Mutton Lonvas curry is incomplete without this masala blend.
This masala blend is really special. It brings with it a very earthy, very rustic flavour that is indigenous to the Western Ghats. Try making the Gavran Kombdi Rassa or the Gavran Matkiche Kalvan-village style-with the Ghaati Masala.
The dark, smoky flavours of the Khandeshi Kala Masala are pretty irresistible. Made from ginger, onion, garlic, white sesame, clove, black pepper, and red chilli, this garam masala is perfect for rassa curries, vegetables, and Amti.
My memory of Maa as our “mistress of spices” is one of my most abiding childhood memories. Hope you are able to create the same emotions with your meals, made all the more special with a unique spice enhancing their taste and the feelings they evoke 😊.
Author: Ankita Sirker