What is Kalpasi | What is dagad phool

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Kalpaasi (‘Kal’ as in culture, ‘paa’ as in pa and ‘si’ as in see) – a peculiar spice with a peculiar shape, can be found along with other spices if you get a whole curry masal packet (kari masaal jaamaan/saamaan) from any grocery stores in South-India. However it’s not a peculiar spice for the Tamilnadu folks, especially for the Chettinadu locals. You can get Kalpasi separately too. In the US, in the India grocers near my home, I found it with the name dagad phool. In Tamil, ‘Kal’ means stone and ‘paasi’ means light green moss that grows on rocks in running streams or rivers or on trees in hill stations. I have seen Cinnamon trees in Kodaikanal hills. But I have no idea how kalpasi is actually cropped (!!??) or harvested (!!!???). I wish I get to see how this magic spice is scrapped from rocks/trees/stones of water wells.




Kalpasi does not have a particular shape. It is curly like some dried flower that is very light in weight. It looks curly like clouds. It can be easily puffed away with a blow of thin air from your mouth. Kalpasi has shades of black, gray, white, mung bean green and pale green in it. You won’t be able to get its fragrance if smelled raw. If I am to explain its smell: it smells as though a new garment is kept in a godown for many days – I couldn’t write a better description of kalpasi’s aroma. Or wait, let me try it in another way. What smell do you get if you sun dry a flower for many days? Not any particular fragrance, right? It’s like that. However, kalpasi releases a very strong aroma when tempered for curries and gravies. The fragrance is something close to what star anise releases when tempered in hot oil, but stronger. If you investigate a pack of kalpasi, you’ll find small bits of barks too, as if it was scrapped out from a tree.




My kitchen normally used to look cluttered, especially the dining table. On one such day when my dining table was too cluttered, our neighbor friend Sup visited us. She spotted a packet in that chaotic table and asked me what it is. I answered her in a show-off tone, ‘Idhu theriyadha? Idhudhan kalpasi’ (translates to: ‘do not know this? this is kalpasi’). I then realized not all from Tamilnadu have heard or seen or used kalpasi. So I bragged to Sup that this kalpasi is the secret spice added in all my recipes Hot smile. I told her that my Amma uses kalpaasi in almost all of her non-vegetarian gravy recipes and in some vegetarian gravies too, like mushroom curry, pakora kuzhambu, thatta payaru kuzhambu etc. [Some recipes you may try from Cooking Jingalala that has Kalpasi in the ingredients list: Pakori Kuzhambu, Mutton Kheema Kulambu, Chicken Qeema Gravy, Mushroom Biryani, Varuttha Kari].




In my home, Amma has a box where she stores all the whole spices together. The box has dried bay leaves (biryani leaf/birinji ilai), star anise (poo/annasi poo), cinnamon (pattai), clove (krambu/lavangam), cardamom (elakkai/elachi) etc. With these, she also nestles bunches of kalpasi. I imagine as though the black stone flower (kalpaasi/dagad phool) is cushioning the other whole spices inside the box Nerd smile.




Do you now understand that Kalpaasi is a vital ingredient in curry masala powder? Now let’s do a small test. Do you have store bought curry masala powder or garam masala powder in your pantry? Now run to your kitchen and grab the pack. Read to check its ingredients. If you do not find kalpasi or dagad phool (patthar ke phool) in the ingredient list, it means they are probably not putting the real ingredient list in the pack. Now look the cover page of the masala pack. Some masala powder companies put a beautiful whole spices picture in the garam masala packs and curry masala packs. If you keenly see the picture, you will find all other spices, say nutmeg, mace, turmeric, pepper, ginger, fennel seeds, cardamom, chili, coriander, cloves, star anise, cinnamon, but not kalpasi. Probably they do not wish to propagate the secret of this exotic spice!

If you are looking to buy Kalpasi/Dagad phool/black stone flower online, you may find this link useful. Click here.

Mangala from Cooking.Jingalala.Org
Eat well !

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  • sudhakar durai

    do u want kapasi. i am spices trader

    • Thank you Sudakar. Leave us more information, for it might help our readers and visitors if they wanted to get Kalpasi (dagad phool) online.

      • Babu Thomas

        Do you want kalpasi. I am also a kalpasi supplier. How much the cost of kalpasi, reply soon. stock available.

        • Thank you Babu. Will sure inform if our readers and visitors wanted to get Kalpasi (dagad phool/patthar ke phool) online.

          • raji

            i want buy dagad phool,wr can i get it

          • Helo Raji,
            Dagad phool can be got from many petty departmental stores (spice stores) in your town. It comes along with the other curry masala spices like cinnamon stick, star anise, cardamom, cloves etc OR it can also be got separately. If you are seriously looking to buy dagad phool, let me know. I’ll give you the email id of the merchants who have commented in this thread.

  • Latha Yerra

    Thanks For sharing this !!!

    • Sure Latha! Im also planning to write on many other Indian spices 🙂

  • Anthony Hope Marris

    Thanks for the information! Do you happen to know where I can find kalpasi in Kolkata? I don’t think I’ve seen it at the local markets, perhaps at a supermarket like Big Bazaar or Spencer’s?

  • Gary Kulkarni

    Mangala, I wish you had also included how the kalpasi is actually used in the cooking. Is it washed, and then roasted and then powdered ? etc. Thank you for your blog. I just bought some Kalpasi / Patthar ka Phool from a local Telugu store in Cleveland, OH and I am smelling this, as I write… Wiki does not give a botanical name for this lichen. By the way, despite the ‘pasi’ = moss, this spice (?), KalPasi, – is a lichen not a moss.
    There is a diiference – Mosses are plants whereas lichens are a symbiotic relationship between a fungus and an algae or a cyano-bacteria.

  • sweta

    thanks for sharing…even i was wondering abt this spice



  • The Architect of A Dream….

    I found this really informative. I’d never heard of such a spice but I recently had Chettinad Biryani and I was on the search for an authentic recipe. Now I’m intrigued and need to buy some. Thanks for your post.

  • Lindsay Phillips

    Thanks for sharing this insight.

  • Ramesh Kumar

    do you want kalpasi (black stone flower )
    we will supply bulk quantities sir

  • Sundri Appavu

    may i know the quantity of 1 black flower?

  • Pankaj Doharey

    Actually if you visit Uttranchal you will see this spice growing and fallen all over the mountainous Jungle floor. Since it is a Lichen, it only grown at places with pure Air and Water. It wont grow anywhere with with even 1% pollution.

    • Pankaj, Thanks for the valuable information on kal paasi (dhagad phool).

  • 74cvk

    Thanks for your article! Is it ready to use when bought (besides cleaning from any bark)? I read about letting it soak in water with baking powder, to make sure the acidity gets less and refreshing the water, etc.?

    • I never have washed kalpaasi. I just take it from the packet and use in my recipes….

      • 74cvk

        Thanks for your reply!

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