This is a very traditional dry masala (watan) used by the Agri community to thicken the gravy. Agris are native to Mumbai and around the coastal region of Konkan. The lifestyle and cooking of the Agris is very close to the Koli community in Mumbai. The only difference is the main occupation of the Kolis’ is fishing, while the Agris’ is fishing and farming.
The Agri communities, which are settled on the coast, use fresh coconuts. While the suburban Mumbaikars use dried coconuts. My dad’s side uses dried coconuts while my in-laws‘ side uses fresh coconut in all of their curries. My Ajiee (maternal grandma) will use a combination of dry and fresh coconuts.
There are so many combinations of this masala. Each variety of this masala will give an unique flavor to the curries. In fact, this whole blog is dedicated to these masalas. The masala, which I am giving the recipe to you, is primarily used in chicken or mutton curry. It gives an unique smoky flavor and blackish color to the gravy.
This masala needs to be grinded to a coarse consistency without adding water and it is able to stay in the refrigerator for months.
You will need:
1 half of a dried coconut.
Grinder or pestle & mortar.
How to proceed:
Turn gas on low flame and place the dried coconut half directly on the flame.
With the help of tongs keep moving the coconut.
Keep an eye on the coconut. At times it will look like it’s on fire. Blow out the flame and switch the coconut to its side.
If you have one, keep your exhaust fan on.
If you’re not comfortable making it on the gas stove, you can use an outside grill too.
Traditionally, the coconut will be placed on coal till it’s charred and gets smoky.
Once charred on all sides, cool completely and make it into small pieces.
You can use a grinder to coarsely grind the coconut. Grind without water. I have used a mortar & pestle to grind mine.
I hope you will like the unique masala. Don’t forget to leave a note .