Subtle, sweet and uniquely delicious, this Maharashtrian Goda Masala recipe will lend tasty complexity to everything from sautéed veggies and rice to lentils and curries. This aromatic spice blend is the quintessential masala for the state of Maharashtra, and can be found in dishes such as Masale Bhat or Matki Amti.
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About Goda Masala
Goda masala is a special spice blend unique to Maharashtrian cuisine. The spices used here are aromatic, and lend a subtle sweet aroma without hints of pungency or heat. I usually make a small batch at a time (about 100 grams) and then add to my everyday cooking.
Goda or god (pronounced “goad-AH”) means “sweet” in marathi. As such, this is sometimes referred to as sweet masala. However, it should be noted that goda masala is sweet in aroma, not in taste.
This aromatic spice blend is added to many Maharashtrian dishes comprising of veggies, lentils and rice. A few recipes that always use goda masala are: Tendli Bhaat, Bharli Bhendi, Amti, Bharli Vangi, and Katachi Amti.
I also make Garam Masala, which is added to the usual Punjabi or North Indian food I prepare. I prefer to make my own dry masalas at home like Sambar Powder, Bisi Bele Bath Powder, Pav Bhaji Masala, Biryani Masala, Coriander Powder etc.
These small batches of homemade masalas are much more potent than the store bought kind, because whole spices retain more of their essential oils. Once you try making your own homemade masalas, you’ll see and taste the difference for yourself.
Each Maharashtrian household has their own signature recipe for goda masala and the proportions of the spices vary from home to home.
This tried and true recipe is the one I always turn to. Even when I add just 2 to 3 teaspoons to a recipe, it changes the flavor and taste for the better.
The food we grow up eating always retain a deep impression on our psyche, and no matter where we are, we always long back to go to our roots. I hope that this delicious goda masala helps you get back to yours!
Kala Masala vs Goda Masala
Aside from goda masala, there are two more spice mixes that are unique to Maharashtrian food. One is kanda lahsun masala (onion garlic masala) and the other is kala masala (black masala). Kala masala and goda masala are terms that are often used interchangeably, but they are different.
For more clarification, I asked my Maharastrian friend about the difference between kala masala and goda masala. She said that in kala masala she adds onions, but the rest of the spices and ingredients are same.
The onions for kala masala are sliced and then sun dried. Once they become crisp, she sautés them in oil till they turn golden. They become so crispy and dry that if you break or snap them, they turn to powder.
She also said that the other spices and coconut get more deeply roasted in kala masala, which lends a darker hue. This extra roasting also helps in giving a longer shelf life to the masala and gives a really good aroma, depth and flavor.
The fried onions also give the kala masala a darker, brownish-black color than goda masala. It should come as no shock that the name kala means “black” in Marathi!
As a yearly ritual, my friend makes about 2.5 to 3 kilos of each kala masala and the Maharashtrian garam masala during the summers.
These masalas last her for a year. The spices are roasted in oil and then given to a mill where they grind spices in bulk. Isn’t that wonderful?
I usually make a small batch which gives about 80 to 100 grams of this masala. This much works for me – as I make recipes that need this spice blend sometimes and not everyday.
I recommend this recipe – which yields about 250 grams of goda masala – for home cooks who are new to this spice blend, but want enough in the cupboard to stretch for awhile.
Please note that each ingredient is roasted – separately – on a low heat. I recommend you do this as well, as the spices roast at different speeds; if you try roasting them together, some will likely end up burned.
You will need to spare a good 1 hour to make this masala, so clear your schedule. I promise it will be worth the effort!
Few Unique Ingredients
If your only exposure to masalas thus far has been with spicy garam masala, this goda masala recipe is going to taste and feel quite different.
Here are some of the ingredients that contribute to this delicious spice mix’s unique flavor:
- Stone Flower (Parmotrema Perlatum). Also known as rock flower in English, or kalpasi or patthar ke phool in Hindi. In Marathi, it is known as dagad phool. It should be noted that this culinary lichen doesn’t have much flavor when raw, but releases a smoky, earthy, somewhat astringent flavor when it comes in contact with heat. As such, you should always roast or fry kalpasi using proper technique.
- Cobra’s Saffron (Mesua Ferrea), is also known as ceylon ironwood in English. It is called Nagkesar in Hindi and Nagkeshar in Marathi. This herb is also used in Ayurvedic medicines, and has a citrusy-woodsy flavor.
- Desiccated coconut and sesame seeds also impart a great deal of flavor, lending a sweet, nutty flavor to the masala.
- Small black seeds known as Niger seeds (not to be confused with nigella seeds), are also an ineffable flavor of this delightful spice mix. They are also called karale or khurasni in Marathi, and ramtil in Hindi. A dry chutney can also be made using these sweetly aromatic and nutty flavored seeds.
Note: Some varieties of niger seeds can be bitter; if you have bitter niger seeds, then please do not add them in the recipe. Bitter tasting niger seeds can be toxic. I can promise that the goda masala turns out fabulously without them, too.
Depending on where you live, you may not be able to easily source stone flower, cobra’s saffron and niger seeds.
To get an authentic goda masala, I would suggest not to skip stone flower (dagad phool), but if needed you may skip nagkeshar/cobra’s saffron and niger seeds.
I usually add desiccated coconut flakes to goda masala. For another interpretation, my friend suggests that it is best to use dried coconut shells.
You grate the dried coconut shell and then roast them, which gives a more intense flavor than using desiccated coconut flakes.
How to make Goda Masala
Before you begin roasting the spices, measure and gather all your ingredients and set them aside. Use a small-sized but heavy frying pan or skillet.
Do stir often when roasting these delicate spices and tiny seeds, so that they cook evenly and do not get burnt.
1. Heat 1 teaspoon of neutral flavored oil in a pan.
2. Add 8 tablespoons coriander seeds. Stir often on low heat and roast them till they become fragrant and change color. Remove to a plate.
3. Then add 2 tablespoons cumin seeds. Again stir on low heat and roast them till they are fragrant and they change color. Remove to the same plate.
4. Next add 2 teaspoons of caraway seeds and follow the same method of roasting until fragrant.
5. Now add 3 teaspoons of niger seeds (karale). These are wonderfully fragrant and should be roasted very lightly until you can smell them.
Tip: Remember not to over-do the roasting as it can make these seeds taste bitter.
Note: If you cannot source or get niger seeds, then skip adding them.
6. Next to go are 7 tablespoons sesame seeds; roast till they crackle and change color. Keep on stirring so that the color is uniform.
7. Once done, remove and keep aside on the same plate as all the other ingredients.
8. Roast 6 tablespoons desiccated coconut till golden. You will have to continuously stir to get a uniform color.
If you prefer a darker color, you can roast a tad more than what I have done.
9. Add 4 to 5 broken dry red chilies and roast till they have a smoky, pungent fragrance. You can deseed the chilies if you prefer a milder masala, or omit them altogether.
10. Add ¼ teaspoon asafoetida and dry roast till fragrant – this takes a few seconds. Remember to keep heat low if using a heavy pan or skillet.
If your pan is not heavy or sturdy, then turn off heat. Add asafoetida and roast it.
11. Again heat 1 teaspoon of oil in the pan.
12. Now add all the below listed fragrant spices:
- 4 to 5 pieces of 1 inch cinnamon sticks
- 7 to 8 small-sized tej patta
- ½ teaspoon black peppercorns
- 3 to 4 star anise
- 25 cloves
- seeds from 4 black cardamoms
- 5 to 6 green cardamoms
- 1 teaspoon cobra’s saffron (nagkesar)
- 3 tablespoons of stone flower (dagad phool or patthar ke phool)
On low heat, roast till the spices become aromatic, about a minute. Set aside.
Make Goda Masala
13. Let all the spices and the rest of the other ingredients cool.
14. In a mixer-grinder or coffee-grinder or spice-grinder, grind everything in batches. I ground in two batches, but if you have a small grinder, then you will have to grind in 4 to 5 batches.
Because of the oil present in the spices and sesame seeds, you will have to scrape the sides and then continue to grind as needed.
15. Take the ground goda masala in a bowl and mix everything well. If the masala is warm due to the mixer-grinder being heated up, then let it cool completely.
16. Store the Goda Masala in a clean, airtight jar. You can keep at room temperature for about 1 to 2 months or in the refrigerator for up-to 6 months.
I have read that some people don’t add coconut to goda masala as it reduces shelf life. However, the friend I told you about says that the shelf life does not get reduced by adding coconut. Since she makes 2+ kilogram batches in bulk she knows better than me!
According to her, if the coconut is roasted really well, then the goda masala or kala masala has a good shelf life. She keeps the masalas at room temperature and says they stay good for a full year.
I don’t recommend that you do. Coconut is an essential flavor here – it offers sweetness and nuttiness that goda masala depends on.
If you have an allergy to sesame, you can omit them. However, there is not a good replacement.
You can add two medium sized onions, or about ¾ to 1 cup of thinly sliced onions. Slice them thinly and sun dry them; once they become sun-crisped, fry them in a tablespoon or two of neutral oil till golden. Then cool and grind them with the spices.
In goda masala, the spices are always roasted, to release their essential oils and give greater flavor. You can sun-dry the whole spices, but be sure to roast the sesame seeds, poppy seeds, niger seeds, hing and desiccated coconut.
No, there should be some residual oil left over between ingredients. I suggest you only add as instructed.
In my book, yes. That said, remember that there are at least as many recipes for this masala as there are families in India! Personal preferences, family histories and even regional variations will exist between them.
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Goda Masala Recipe
- 8 tablespoons coriander seeds – 40 to 45 grams or about ¾ cup
- 6 tablespoons desiccated coconut – unsweetened, 40 grams or ½ cup + 1 tablespoon
- 7 tablespoons white sesame seeds – 55 to 60 grams
- 2 tablespoons cumin seeds
- 2 teaspoons caraway seeds (shahi jeera)
- 3 tablespoons stone flower (pathar phool, dagad phool)
- ½ tablespoon poppy seeds (khus khus), optional
- 4 to 5 dry red chilies – you can use byadagi or bedgi chilies or kashmiri red chilies
- 3 teaspoons niger seeds (ramtil, khurasni, karala), optional
- 1 teaspoon nag kesar (cobra's saffron), optional
- ½ teaspoon black peppercorns
- 25 cloves or about ¾ to 1 tablespoon
- 4 to 5 pieces of 1 inch cinnamon sticks
- 4 black cardamoms – seeds removed and kept aside, husks discarded
- 5 to 6 green cardamoms
- 7 to 8 tej patta small-sized, (tamal patra) or 4 to 5 medium-sized tej patta
- 3 to 4 star anise
- 1.5 teaspoons turmeric powder – optional
- ¼ teaspoon asafoedita (hing), optional
- 2 teaspoons oil
- Heat 1 teaspoon oil in a heavy small frying pan or skillet.
- Add coriander seeds. On low heat stir often and roast them till they become fragrant and they change color. Remove in a plate.
- Then add cumin seeds. Again stir and roast on low heat them till they are fragrant and they change color. Remove in the same plate.
- Next add caraway seeds and follow the same procedure.
- Now add the niger seeds/karale. These are wonderfully fragrant. Just roast them till they become fragrant.
- Add sesame seeds. Roast till they crackle and change color. Keep on stirring so that there is even roasting. Takes about 1.5 to 2 minutes on a low heat.
- Once done, then like all the other roasted ingredients, remove and keep aside in the same plate.
- Roast the desiccated coconut till they are golden. You will have to continuously stir to get a uniform golden color.
- If adding poppy seeds, add them now and roast till they are fragrant. Remove aside.
- Add the broken dry red chilies and roast till they have a smoky pungent fragrance. Before roasting, you can deseed the chilies if you prefer.
- Add asafoetida and dry roast till they get fragrant. This takes a few seconds. Remove and set aside.
- Again heat 1 teaspoon oil in the same pan. Now add all the aromatic spices – cinnamon, bay leaf, black pepper, star anise, cloves, black cardamom seeds, green cardamom, cobra's saffron (nagkesar), stone flower (dagad phool or patthar ke phool).
- On low heat, roast till the spices become fragrant. This takes about a minute.
Making goda masala
- Let all the spices and the rest of the other ingredients cool.
- In a dry grinder, grind everything in batches. I ground in two batches, so that the grinder does not have a overload. If you have a small grinder, then you will have to grind in 4 to 5 batches. While grinding due to the oil, you will have to scrape the sides and then continue to grind.
- Take the ground goda masala in a bowl and mix everything well.
- Then store the goda masala in an airtight jar. You can keep at room temperature or in the refrigerator.
- Niger Seeds: Do not roast the niger seeds too much as they turn bitter. This would result in the goda masala tasting bitter. The niger seeds I get here have a nutty taste and are not bitter. If your niger seeds taste bitter, then do not use them as bitter seeds can be toxic.
- Optional ingredients: From the list of the spices used in the recipe, feel free to omit poppy seeds, niger seeds, cobra’s saffron and stone flower. Still I would suggest not to omit stone flower and if possible you can buy them online.
- Roasting: Use a heavy frying pan or skillet, so that the spices are roasted evenly and do not get too much browned or burnt. Also remember to stir often when roasting the ingredients.
Nutrition Info (Approximate Values)
This Goda Masala recipe from the archives first published in July 2014 has been updated and republished on January 2023.