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Forum Thread - Dagal Phool

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Asha, on 7/11/2008 11:57am

We have been watching Britain's Best Dish and were delighted when a Hyderabadi Biryani featured in the finals. I printed the recipe off intending to make this for Diwali but one of the ingredients was 'dagal phool'. I am a reasonably experienced cook, but I had never heard of this ingredient before! Having done some research on the Internet I discovered that the English name for this is Stone Flower or Sea Lichen (apparently it has the taste of a chicken curry!).

Have you ever come across this before, Mamta? Neither of the two large Indian supermarkets here had ever heard of this.

PS - I join the chorus of the fans of this site and thank you for excellent recipes that take me back to the 'home cooking'of my mother's and grandmother's kitchens!

Mamta, on 7/11/2008 04:13pm

welcome Asha

I amsure Daagal phool adds to flavour, like using some some special mushroom like 'Guchchi'. not many people can find it. I am sure you can make good Biryani without it.


AskCy, on 7/11/2008 06:27pm

I'm no expert on any language but I'm not to shabby with google and guess work... lol

I think it should read Dagad phool which is a sort of lichen but thats not likely in a curry ! It also appears to be used for "star anise" maybe because they look a bit like a sea urchin ? This would make a lot more sense in a curry giving that aniseed flavour you get from fennel seeds.

Anasphal/Dagad Phool - Star anise

Hope this clears things up


mamta, on 7/11/2008 10:30pm

Hello Steve

Here is a picture of Dagad Phool; It looks more like a sort of mushroom than Star Anise.

Guchchi Mushrooms look quite dark and un curry like too, see here;, but are used in Kashmiri Cuisine as a delicacy. They are very expensive, if I remember correctly. One of our neighbours in India used to make Guchchi Pilaf (pulao) with them.

May be some person from maharshtra or hydrerabad will tell us more.


Lapis, on 9/11/2008 05:47pm

the spice in question is a lichen (not a stone flower, which is something else, although lichen does grow on stone, so not too far fetched). It is used in a couple of spice mixes, especially in Marathi and Awadhi cuisine. I have seen it in at least one Indian store (in East London) that grinds its own spices and flours. I also brought some back from Bangalore.

If anyone wants some of this spice, I'm sure Mamta can come up with a way of supplying some!

One thing I noticed in the recipe, the use of caraway seeds, these should be black cumin (also known as kala jeera or Shah jeera). Although I bought some caraway seeds in Bangalore, the packet called then 'cake seed', as used in seed cake recipes, and as far as I am aware, are not grown anywhere in India as a crop, although they may be found growing wild along the roads in India, as a researcher at The Edinburgh Botanical Gardens informed me.

Asha, on 13/11/2008 03:41pm

Thank you all for your replies. Mamta, I DID make the biryani without the dagad/dagal phool and it was quite good but preferred an adaptation of yours and my nani-ji's (which I now call mine!).

I also didn't use 'caraway' seeds - I have found that a lot of my friends and family tend to translate 'zeera' as caraway, so I didn't get caught out on that.

Thank you all oce again.

Mamta, on 13/11/2008 04:17pm

I prefer the name 'Naniji ki Biryani' ;-), there is something loving in the sound of it!


Paul, on 25/11/2008 10:02pm

I also tried the "Britain's best dish Biryani" and searched extensively on the internet for this spice. Eventually I found that "Top Op" had Dagarful which is available from at this site :

I understand that this is another name for the same thing.

Asha, on 27/11/2008 11:53am

Thanks for this, Paul - I failed to find it entirely! However, at that price (£23!), I don't think that I shall be buyin it.

Lapis, on 27/11/2008 12:34pm


if you really want some Dagad phool, I'll send you some, just tell me how to get it to you. Lapis

Asha, on 5/12/2008 11:07am

Apologies, Lapis, for the late reply - have been away gallivanting and tasting the tapas in Barcelona!

Thanks for the offer of dagal phool but I have never seen it used in any other recipe so expect that it will sit in my spice box and never see the heat of a saucepan! But it is very, VERY kind of you to offer to send it.

Lapis, on 5/12/2008 01:20pm

OK Asha,

hope you had a good time in Barce'

I'm afraid many spices /flavours end up like this. I have only seen the dagad phool used in dry masala mixes (mostly from Maharashtra and Lucknow) but I don't know if it adds anything to the mix(I must open the packet!). As it is a lichen, I suppose it will have an earthy/phenolic smell/flavour, not unlike 'oak moss' used in perfumary, for a woody/smokey bass note.

hidsu, on 7/12/2008 09:46am

looking for the above .please tell me where I can obtain some .WE would like to make the lamb biriyani for our christmas gathering which is multicultural.Thanking all for information

Winton, on 7/12/2008 03:04pm

Not sure this is much use but it seems dagad phool is also known as chabili (there are even fewer references to it as chabili.)

As a litchen is does impart a musky/earthy smell to a dish but the actual flavour will vary on which tree was the host to it. It can be used in garam masala (although this would seem rather extravagant given its cost!) or more generally directly to chicken dishes.

I'll have a scout round Brick Lane when I'm next there to see if I find any cheaper suppliers but doubtful.

Lapis, on 7/12/2008 05:10pm

I have just opened my 100g bag of dargar phool (words on label). The flavour is one I know very well, the name of the chemical which I detected is geosmin. It is the earthy/sweet smell found on the banks of streams and in moist greenhouses. It is produced by microoragisms in particular, and is something to do with the production of beta carotene and chlorophyll in the cell.

I have also tasted it in fish caught in rivers (rare these days, unless you know an angler!). I can't say it will enhance the flavour, and it did nothing for trout or river perch I have had. As for chicken, I can't say it floats my boat. And looking at the chemical structure, I can't see how it could change during heating (cooking), I'll just have to try it.

John Wise, on 29/12/2008 10:12pm

I have checked Asian, Oriental, and Indian stores around Phoenix, Arizona and online and am not having any luck finding a source where I can buy Dagar Phool. If someone can arrange with me to send some my way it would be kindly appreciated, or point me in a direction where I can buy it online. unity2k at hotmail dot com

Maya, on 14/11/2010 10:01am

I can assure you all that the Dagad Phool makes all the difference. it gives the biryani a rich musky aroma and fuller flavour.

It is availiable at asian supermarkets/stores...ask around, it is worth it!X

Mayur Kher, on 13/6/2012 02:04pm

This is a lichen and available with all reasonably good grocery shops in Mumbai.

Nostradamus, on 29/12/2012 08:39pm

It is a Lichen used extensively in North Indian preparations. My mother in law calls it pathhar(rock) phool(flower). It imparts a nice aroma when added to the masala mix. It is a must have ingredient in Pulao/biryani

Nostradamus, on 29/12/2012 08:43pm

Sold online link below

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