Recently, I came across an article on how Lichens are appearing on fine dining restaurant menus, especially around Scandinavia and the UK. I am a big fan of this particular Lichen called Dagad Phool in Maharashtra or Kalpasi in Tamil Nadu. It literally translates to 'Kal' which means stone and 'paasi' meaning light green moss that grows on rocks in running streams or rivers in hill stations. This lichen is used to make Goda Masala/ Kala Masala which is the key ingredient in Maharashtrian kitchens. Actually my aunt, who lives in Pune got me hooked onto this masala and I used it to do some killer Goda Masala rubbed Lamb Chops not only in India but in Niagara, Canada while filming Vicky Goes Foreign.
Dagad Phool is one of the key ingredients in Goda Masala in Maharashtra and in the Potli Masala from Hyderabad used in Nihari and Biryani masala as well.
This soft brown, black coloured cloud like flower is used in various masalas especially in Hyderabad and in Tamil Nadu's Chettinad cuisine. When you smell it in its dried stage, the smell is earthy, damp, and reminds one of a sexy musty fragrance.
This curly fungi releases a very strong aroma when tempered for gravies and curries.
Various types of lichen have been used in the past in different ways throughout the world like Iceland moss was an important human food in northern Europe, and was cooked as a bread, porridge, pudding, soup, or salad. Wila was an important food in parts of North America, where it was usually pit cooked. People in North America and Siberia traditionally eat the partially digested reindeer lichen after they remove it from the rumen of caribou or reindeer that have been killed. Rock tripe is a lichen that has frequently been used as an emergency food in North America.
My all time favourite restaurant The Fat Duck serves Oak Moss (which is not a moss but a lichen called Evernia prunastri) with truffle toast, jelly of quail, crayfish cream and chicken liver parfait.
Nimma Auntys Goda Masala
1 teaspoon oil
2 tablespoons + ¼ teaspoon cumin seeds (jeera)
½ tablespoon caraway seeds (shah jeera)
½ tablespoon cloves
2 tablespoons + ¼ teaspoons sesame seeds
6 tablespoons + ½ teaspoon dried coconut
½ cup coriander powder (instead of whole because I have good fresh ground from Tejas's mom)
3 tablespoons dagad phool
Heat oil in a skillet and add cumin and caraway and slowly start to get them brown.
Add cloves and continue browning.
Add sesame seeds and continue browning.
Add coconut and continue browning.
Add coriander powder and dagad phool and cook until all ingredients assume a rich brown colour, but not burnt.
Let it cool and then grind.
Use this to marinate Panner, Chicken, Fish, lamb, Beef steaks.