‘Rachead Masala’ is a spicy paste that serves as a perfect base for many dishes in Goa. Traditionally known as ‘Racheado Masala’, the paste is made by the Christian community using bright Red Chillies and Vinegar. The vinegar is said to give the paste its distinctive jewel-red colour and we can’t wait to try their wonderful version of the masala.
Meanwhile, the fabulous recipe below is one I’ve learnt from my mom, Kamakshi. You’ll find that in most Saraswat families, we replace the vinegar with tamarind as a souring agent. This is why our style of Rachead Masala is a darker reddish-brown colour as compared to the bright red masala made with vinegar.
We always have a bottle of the delicious Rachead Masala handy in the fridge! It’s ideal for an easy Mackerel (Bangda) Fry or Prawn Fry. It may be used to make quick stir-fried dishes using calamari rings or perhaps even stuffed squid. We’ve also tried it with cubes of boneless chicken as a stir-fry, as a coating for simple chicken meatballs and even to flavour a pulav (spiced rice)! Yes, it truly is a good idea to have a bottle of Rachead masala in your kitchen.
Rachead Masala Recipe
(Makes about 1 1/2 cups of Masala Paste)
- 7-8 Red Kashmiri Chillies
- 1/2 cup warm Water
- 1-inch piece of Cinnamon (Dalchini)
- 1 heaped tablespoon Cumin seeds (Jeera)
- 1 tablespoon Black Peppercorns (Kali Mirch)
- 1 Star Anise (Chakriphool)
- 10 Cloves (Lavang)
- 1 heaped tablespoon Fennel seeds (Saunf)
- 4 Green Cardamom Pods (Elaichi)
- 2-inch piece of Ginger (Adrak)
- 15 cloves of Garlic (about 2 entire Garlic Pods)
- 1 teaspoon Salt, or to taste
- 1 tablespoon Sugar, or to taste
- 2 small balls of Tamarind (Imli)/ 2 teaspoons Tamarind Concentrate
In a medium-sized bowl, soak the red Kashmiri chillies in half a cup of warm water. Cover the bowl and allow the chillies to soak for an hour.
Place the chillies and their liquid in a mixer (grinder) along with the garlic, ginger, whole spices, sugar, salt and fresh tamarind (or tamarind concentrate).
Grind this mixture to a smooth, fine paste. Check the taste of the masala paste, adding more salt, sugar or tamarind if required. Store the masala paste in an airtight container, in the refrigerator, for up to a month.
Rachead Masala may be used to prepare crisp, spicy fried prawns. It also tastes delicious when stuffed into Mackerel (Bangda), dredged in Semolina (Rawa) and fried on a hot tawa (pan)!
For a quick and filling meal, we even use the masala as a curry base for boneless chicken cubes. It’s always a great idea to have a bottle of the Rachead masala handy!