A 'Phool' Flavour Spice: The Magic Of Kalpasi

When was the last time you looked at something growing on a rock and thought to yourself, ‘hmm, I bet that tastes great’? Never? Well, you’d probably be surprised to know that even if you didn’t know it, you might have already eaten something very similar. Dagad Phool, also known as Kalpasi or Black Stone Flower is a species of edible lichen that grows on trees and rocks and is often found in Indian cuisine. 

It’s one of the most unusual spices within India’s vast repertoire of spices and is used most commonly in its dried form. The deep brown-black colour of the lichen gives a signature colour to many Chettinad preparations, a cuisine in which it’s most commonly usef. It has a rich earthy aroma but a very delicate and light texture. 

It’s also an essential part of Maharashtrian goda or kala masala which are used to make dishes like Masale Bhat or Dal Vangi and the signature flavour and colour of these masalas comes from the Dagad Phool. Aside from the unique taste that imparts, Dagad Phool is also thought to have multiple health benefits that can help with skin inflammation and indigestion and it is sometimes considered a pain reliever that aids the healing of wounds.


Dry Roast Without Oil:

  • ½ cup Desiccated coconut
  • 6 tablespoons Sesame seeds

Roast With Oil :

  • 1 tablespoon Oil
  • 2 Bay leaves (tej patta) I had very small so used three
  • 2 tablespoons Rock flower (Dagad phool) optional
  • 10-12 Dried red chillies
  • 1 tablespoon Cumin seeds
  • ¾ cup Coriander seeds (sabut dhaniya) (sabut dhaniya)
  • 2 ½ inch Cinnamon stick (dalchini)
  • 1 ½ teaspoon Cloves (laung)
  • ½ teaspoon Black peppercorns

Add While Grinding :

  • 1 teaspoon Hing (Asafoetida)
  • 1 teaspoon Turmeric powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt


  • Start with desiccated coconut. Dry roast it with stirring continuously until it is golden brown in colour. Remove it to a plate.
  • Then dry roast the sesame seeds. Once roasted, they get a little dark in colour, impart a nice nutty aroma and seeds start to pop (or splutter out of the pan). Remove it to the same plate.
  • Now add 1-2 drops of oil and add bay leaves. Roast them until dark in colour and make sure they don’t get burned.
  • Again add 2 drops of oil and roast dagad phool similarly. Remove it from the pan.
  • Add 2 drops of oil and roast dried red chillies. Once roasted, you’ll get a smokey aroma and they darken in colour. 
  • Roast the cinnamon stick with 2 drops of oil. Once roasted it gets darker in colour and will open up.
  • Similarly, roast the cumin seeds until they are golden brown in colour. It gives a nice roasted aroma.
  • For coriander seeds add ½ teaspoon of oil and roast until golden brown in colour and imparts a sweet, toasty aroma.
  • Roast the cloves with 2 drops of oil. In this case, there will be no colour change, just a slight roasted aroma and it’s done.
  • Similarly, roast the black peppercorns.
  • Let everything cool down completely to room temperature.
  • Take everything into the spice grinder jar, add salt, hing and turmeric powder and make a powder. 
  • Scrape down the sides occasionally until you have a fine paste.