A sort of dried flower, lichen called kalpasi or dagad phool, is used as a dry spice in Indian cooking. Its distinctive earthy flavour and scent make it an unusual addition to many Indian spice blends. Although they can come in a variety of colours and may have an unusual shape, they are typically seen in shades of black, brown, grey, and light green. The colour of a lichen also changes depending on whether it is wet or dry. The spice is primarily used in dishes like nahari, Bombay biryani, and Goan meat stews. It is one of the ingredients of East Indian Bottle Masala. This mysterious flower, also known as daagar ka phool or patthar ka phool, is frequently used to make gravies for Chettinad cuisine and is thought to be produced in some regions of Tamil Nadu. Kalpasi has a dark green or black upper surface and is paler on the inside with a dry, earthy scent. 

Also read: Spice Box: The Heart Of Indian Kitchens

The Black Stone Flower not only imparts a singular and wonderful flavour and taste, but it also benefits your health. It is a naturally occurring edible fungus that may grow on rocks and trees without any labor or fertiliser. Without any cultivation, it develops naturally on rocks, trees, and other hard surfaces. Traditional medicine practitioners trust in its therapeutic capabilities even though there aren't many scientific studies and research indicating them. 

It should not be confused with Didymocarpus pedicellatus, another so-called "stone flower," a natural flower that grows in the Himalayas and is used in Ayurvedic medicine to treat urinary tract infections. The entire plant of dagad phool is utilised for medicinal and culinary uses, and it grows all year long in temperate regions of the Northern and Southern Hemispheres. 

History 

It has been utilised as a natural remedy since ancient times, and over 700 physiologically active components with distinct structural characteristics from those of higher plants have been found. 

The Greek phrase that describes the surface growth on the olive tree's bark is where the word "lichen" comes from. Theophrastus, the Father of Botany (370–285 BC), coined the term "lichen." Lichen was suggested by Tournefort as one of the plant entity genera around 1700 AD. The Himalayan temperate and alpine regions as well as the hilly areas of Peninsular India are both rich in it. According to the name's origins and geographic spread, "kalpasi," the black stone flower's use appears to have started among the Dravidian-speaking people. The Rai and Limbu people of East Nepal have long utilised it as a staple diet. 

Flavour 

Dagad phool is bitter on its own. It has a flavour that could be described as spicy and astringent. However, it adds a lovely smoky flavour when it is cooked after being added to a recipe. To obtain the true and complete aroma of dry ground kalpasi, it should be roasted in a small amount of oil. 

Culinary Use 

It is employed in the preparation of Goda Masala, a key component of Maharashtrian cuisine. 

It is a crucial component of Lucknawi Potli and Maharashtrian Kala (Black) masala. 

Additionally, it is regarded as a crucial component of North Indian Garam Masala, Malvani Masala, and East Indian Bottle Masala. 

To thicken soup, kalpasi is frequently employed. 

Additionally, it is frequently used to make non-vegetarian dishes like Biryani and Nalli Nihari. 

This lichen is also used to produce marinades in Chettinad cuisine. 

When it's dried, it will remain usable for a year. Use as necessary and store in an airtight container. If you keep it in a cool, dry environment, the flavour and scent will remain.