Masalas are an essential ingredient in any Indian recipe. There might only exist a single Garam Masala(which is a perfect blend of specific spices,namely,cloves,cinamom,cardamom,bayleaves,cumin,peppercorns and so on,roasted and ground to powder) for many, but in reality every local cuisine in India have their own secret blend ,specifically used in respective traditional recipes. A masala box,comprising of frequently used spice powders like Turmeric,Red chilly powder,Coriander-Cumin powder,Garam masala, whole mustard and cumin seeds is a kitchen essential, and is mostly passed on to the new bride from mothers. I received mine from both my Mother and Mother In Law. I’m doubly blessed with the spices, especially when it comes to the traditional Masalas. I get my annual stock of Homemade Masala from my Mother ( for all my Mumbai style or Vadval Marathi recipes) and Kala Masala from Mother in Law ( for Maratha and Khandeshi recipes). While I use the store bought Garam Masala and Marathi Masala for everyday subjees and curries, the Kala Masala has a distinct aroma and flavour , and tastes best in hot and spicy curries , traditional Baingan Bharthas and Non Veg Curries. The aroma the curry boils with the masala added is magical and very appetising. We fetch the whole Kala masala spices and ingredients,weighted and prepacked together from a specialised humble shop in old Nashik, ” Sukhlal Dagduteli Chandwadkar” called “Dagdu Teli Shop” casually. The masala gets its typical dark brown colour from the roasted dry coconut and spices. Most households make their yearly stock during summers , for the rest who missed it , there are small packets available in traditional shops, like the “Maharashtra Bhandar” near college road. The masala has a very dominating and strong aroma, so make sure its added to the curry in measured amounts to prevent overpowering the base taste , especially when cooking with vegetables. It might be a little hectic making Kala Masala, since each of the dry ingredients need to be roasted seperately,cooled and then ground, adding the roasted coconut step by step to facilitate blending. Also, the whole turmeric and asafoetida are little hard to grind. The masala might require passing through a sieve to discard any residual coarse particles. However, all the effort just seems worth it , when you savour your hot and spicy curry with fresh Bhakaris! ***The spices measured in gms depict accurate weights , but for simplicity I have approximated the values into numbers or tsps of ingredients. Lighter spices lik bay leaves n dagad phool may vary)*** We swear by the taste of homemade masala,but for those busybees who are crunched for time and cant wait to cook our Khandeshi Curries, you can buy ready made masala too.