Whether we travel within our country or outside, whatever our religion, surname or preference, the food and cuisine of the area we live in somehow finds its way to our plate. The food culture in India is rich and diverse with a wide assortment of sweet, savoury, seasonal, migrated and fusion delicacies that can tingle everyone’s taste buds.
I’m a Maharashtrian Marwari who enjoys the sizzling and fiery Sev bhaji as much as our traditional and subtle Gatte ki sabzi. Maharashtra and its food has seeped so much into my mind and onto my tongue that sometimes I find it hard to recall where a dish originated. However, that has never stopped a foodie like me from pampering myself with some sinful indulgence. 😛
If food tasting and exploring is your thing and you’re adventurous enough to tackle the surprises this lovely state has to offer in terms of gastronomic delights, read on to know some of the dishes you must look forward to.
Wherever you go in Maharashtra, from a tiny roadside stall to a fancy restaurant every place will have Missal pav on its menu. Missal pav consists of mixed sprouts in gravy made with onions, garlic, grated coconut, tomato etc, some special masalas (which vary according to the region) and topped generously with farsan. Dahi/curd is optional but recommended if you cannot handle the spice. There is no right time for Missal pav, have it when the mood strikes!
Once regarded as ‘the dish of farmers’ Jhunka bhakar is now a delicacy enjoyed everywhere. Jhunka is besan (cooked yellow gram flour) and bhakar is made with jowar flour. It is served with onions and a super hot thecha which balances the otherwise bland taste of the dish. It is great for diet-conscious people too. There are Jhunka bhakar kendras all over the state where they’re freshly made and are available at a low price without compromising the quality.
Don’t expect your ears to double as chimney from the ‘hotness’ smoke the whole time because Puran poli will make you fall in love with its taste and simplicity. Yellow gram flour (besan) is cooked and sweetened with sugar or jaggery and is stuffed in refined flour or wheat flour balls. These are traditionally super thin and dry from inside and served with a bowl of ghee and Amti (which is a gravy made with charred onions, coriander and garlic).
Hurda and Vangyacha Bharit
Come winters and all roads in Marathwada and Khandesh (central and northern areas of the state) lead to farms or restaurants in city outskirts. Hurda and vangyacha bharit (eggplant mash) parties are a rage amongst kids and adults alike. Hurda (in Marathwada) is raw jowar and green in colour. A typical table where it is served will overflow with atleast 5-6 chutneys, loads of fruits, dahi/curd and many other season special foods. Vangyacha bharit is a Khandeshi special and for a normal party an eggplant mash of more than 100 kgs isn’t unheard of. Bajra roti, onions and thecha go well with it.
Alphonso (or Hapus, for locals) mangoes are loved around the world so it will be hardly surprising if they command certain adulation for themselves. Amrakhand is a variant of shrikhand and is flavoured additionally with mango pulp. Its gorgeous yellow is extremely inviting and one spoonful of it will transport you to well, anyplace you won’t have to share it. During summers it is made and available everywhere but in off season you can try Chitale’s Amrakhand. It is the best!
That’s all from me for now. I’ve covered only vegetarian dishes here but if you’re a non-vegetarian there’s another world for you out there! I’ve grown up gorging on these yummy dishes and can vouch that they’ll be your favourites too. Do you have or want to pick any?
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