Kanda Lasun Masala, The Secret Ingredient In Kolhapuri Cuisine
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If you are fond of lip-smacking Maharashtrian food that might induce sweats because of its heat, you are probably wondering what goes into the spicy curries or vegetables that give them such an umami but deliciously spicy flavour. A part of the cuisine of Kolhapur, known for its tambda and pandhra rassa, that is the red and white soupy concoctions accompanying mutton and chicken dishes, the secret ingredient to this explosion of flavour is most times the kanda lasun masala. 

Image credit: Madhura's Recipe

This masala as its name suggests uses onions and garlic as its core ingredients to arrive at a mix of spices that have a very rich and distinct flavour which elevates the profile of any dish. It is particularly used in recipes that demand a high proportion of heat as well as flavour. The kanda lasun masala is then distinct because it is not simply about adding large proportions of chilli powder to amp the heat of the dish but about infusing some strong flavours in the curry, vegetable or protein like mutton or chicken which will set your taste buds ablaze.

The fiery and spicy powder brings together dried coconut, ginger, sesame, onions and garlic in a mix that then packs quite a bit of spiciness when it is added to any recipe. Kolhapur is known for such dishes and kanda lasun masala is a staple here, used almost every day in most households. This is because, the masala is very versatile and just as it blends well with non-vegetarian dishes, so too its flavours render themselves wonderfully to some signature Maharashtrian dishes like misal or bharla vanga (stuffed brinjal).

In many households, making masala continues to be an activity that brings families and neighbours together to participate in drying, mixing and grinding condiments that will last through the year if stored in cool, airtight containers. Kanda lasun masala too, continues to be prepared similarly following the traditional recipe. However, it is also readily available in the market, and can be picked up in small packets to add a bit of an oomph to what might be less than appealing vegetable dishes. 

Of the many masalas including the goda masala or garam masala that are used in Maharashtrian cuisine, the kanda lasun masala stands apart because of its flavour profile and the ingredients that go into making this mixture. Goda masala is made simply from whole spices, dried and ground into a fine mix. But kanda lasun masala contains generous helpings of coconut and red chillies which give it a coarser texture than the fine goda masala. While the brownish-black garam masala also contains some amount of dried coconut, it differs from the kanda lasun masala because the latter contains helping of garlic and red chillies that give it a slightly deeper red colour. 

Packed with heat and pungent garlicky flavours, kanda lasun masala can be made at home following some handy steps. Read on below for a recipe for making this flavour-packed masala that can elevate the taste of any subzi whipped up in the kitchen. You can adjust the proportion of spices according to the amount of masala you wish to grind.


5 tbsp coriander seeds

4 tbsp dried grated coconut

2 tsp cumin 

2 tsp black cumin 

2 tsp sesame seeds

2 tsp black pepper

2 tsp cloves

2-3 small cinnamon sticks

1-2 star anise

2-3 black cardamoms

7-8 bay leaves

2 tsp mace

2-3 tbsp Kashmiri red chilli powder

2-3 tbsp dried red chilli powder

1-2 tsp turmeric

1-2 tsp hing

3-4 chopped onions

10-20 garlic cloves

Salt to taste

Oil for frying spices


1. Chop onions into thin slices and dry them in the sun for 2 days or until they are free of all moisture.

2. In a pan, dry-roast coriander seeds, sesame, cumin and black cumin separately and transfer into a blender. Blend all the dry roasted spices and set aside.

3. Keeping the same pan on medium heat, dry-roast the grated coconut until it achieves a golden-brown hue. Transfer onto a plate and set aside.

4. In the same pan, add some oil. One by one, add cinnamon, star anise, cloves, black pepper, bay leaves, mace and hing. As each one is fried separately, transfer the individual ingredients into the blender. 

5. Add dried onions into the oil and fry until they turn brownish. Repeat the step with garlic cloves.

6. Blend the fried spices well and add the roasted spices next, to grind into a mixture.

7. Remove the masala from the blender and set aside. Add onions and garlic to the blender and grind. 

8. Now, bring together the spices, onions and garlic mixture in the blender and grind again. Add turmeric, red chilli powders and blend. (You can use dried red chillies too, and grind them and sieve separately before adding to the masala.)

9. Once all the spices are blended well, add a bit of salt and give a final mix. Your kanda lasun masala is now ready. Sprinkle it in a tempering of subzi or curry to add a spicy kick to your dish.