The Koli Masala is the secret to why every dish served by Mumbai’s earliest inhabitants, the Kolis, is a riot of flavour. Dotting the city’s fishing villages or koliwadas are valandi (bamboo stilts) used to sun dry the local eel, Bombay Duck. When half dry, these make it to one of their most exquisite dishes - the Bambooke Bombil. While the recipe for this spirited curry is fiercely protected, we got our hands on the secret masala, made with over two dozen spices, that makes it truly stellar.
On nippy nights out on high sea, a Koli fisherman - or to lift the words from Hemant Kumar’s Marathi Koli geet – the Dariyacha Raja (King of the Sea) keeps himself warm with thoughts of his reward once he reaches the shore with his catch: Pochacha Kanji, a spicy succulent prawn curry well-known to generations of fishermen. The flavour base of this dish and most others of a cuisine nurtured by Mumbai’s indigenous residents, is the homemade, hand-pounded, preservative and colour-free Koli Masala.
About The Seller
A proud member of the Mumbai-based Koli community, Jyotsna Gajanan Dhone realised that the ancestral 27-ingredient spice mix she had grown up with and helped prepare at home every year with ritualistic reverence was nowhere to be found in the city of dreams. A cornerstone of the community’s cuisine, the Koli masala is a riotous medley of flavours which emerge only when specific locally sourced ingredients are roasted and ground in the perfect proportion. Using her family’s traditional recipe, Jyotsna pursued this passion project in 2020 while working from home. As word spread amongst friends, relatives, and fans of KoIi cuisine, it seemed everyone wanted a dash of her spice mix to serve their version of a quintessential Koli meal!