When it comes to culture and heritage of any new place, what’s the first thought that crosses your mind? Food. Right? Yes, just like in any other state, food is considered as an integral part of the cultural heritage of Maharashtra. Traditional delicacies were and still are given a very prominent status here. The state’s regional dishes have formed a quintessential part of its history from ancient times. In the 17 th century — during the reign of Shivaji Bhonsle of the Maratha Empire — food was ordered to be prepared as a treat in the royal kitchens. The cuisines in Maharashtra comprise both varieties – vegetarian and non-vegetarian dishes that exude a variety of tastes and flavors. They are balanced in all the right terms, be it a sweet dish or spicy one. Today let us revisit the tasty delicacies which are well known in the state for their enduring quality of tempting our taste buds.
Staple foods and spices
Maharashtrians consider rice as their staple food grain. They have it with a variety of vegetable and fish curries. Apart from the grains, their most trusted ingredients include coconut, jaggery, tamarind and lentils. These ingredients are used in most of the vegetables to give both sweet and sour flavor. They use coconut in a variety of forms (grated, melted, milk form) for different dishes. Their masalas such as the Kala Masala is quite famous to add spice in the delicacies.
Brinjals are a very prominent dish in the state, they are either cooked as gravy or stuffed with coconut. They are also cooked with ingredients such as mangoes and jaggery, thus indulging in a variety of flavors. Their famous brinjal dishes include bharlivangi and patal bhaji.
Fishes and other sea food
In sea food, fish is quite common and popular in many regions. Bombil, known as Bombay duck, bangda, and pomfret are very prominent fishes which are either fried, curried or stuffed. They are mostly cooked in traditional form with coconut gravy to improve the tastes.
They are also well known for cuisines with prawns and lobsters. The prawns are often cooked in coconut gravy which includes a variety of spices as well.
Let us not forget visiting one of the coastal delicacies of Konkan’s. As always, their staple has been fish curry and rice. They use peanuts and coconuts in most of the dishes which places them into special cuisine taste in the state. Their meals are mostly inspired by principles from Ayurveda. They believe that the meal should be balanced well with all the tastes and hence the thali in Maharashtra consists of Rice, Chapati, Vegetables dry, Curry, Lentils, Salad, Pickle and Chutneys along with dessert. Their flavors are hence known to be spicy, sour, bitter and sweet all packed together.
Malvan is town located on the western coast of Maharashtra which is famous for dishes induced in different forms of coconuts, be it grated, dried, fried, milk or in paste form. They also use ingredients such as tamarind, kokum and raw mango in their cuisines. Kokum is a purple colored berry which has both sweet and sour tastes. It is mostly used to prepare sol kadhi, which is given as a chilled form of an appetizer. Their other well-known and prominent dishes include Kombadi Vade.
Spicy curries in North Western regions
Forget not the areas like Jalgaon, Malegaon, and Nashik. They are well known for their spicy curries, which are in other words called Khandeshi cuisine. Oil which is red and spicy floats on the top of the curry, which is called as ‘Tarri’ or ‘Tawang’. It is considered as the hottest cuisine of Maharashtra. Lavangi mirch and dry coconuts are considered as main ingredients in this cuisine. However, they also have special desserts like Khaprachi Puran Poli which can help calm the spicy curries and cuisine.
Another spicy cuisine can be traced from Kolhapur in Maharashtra. Their Mutton Sukka and Missal are considered as most prominent in the areas.
Deshashtha cuisine of Deccan Plateau
The tastes and cuisines in this area are made with a combination of a variety of spices and lentils (dals). They use traditional bread called Bhakri which is had instead of roti or chapatti, which is made with bajra and jowar. The specialty of them is using only freshly grounded masalas like Goda masala and Methkut masala.
Given the variety of delicacies and tastes, let us not forget the sweet tooth the Maharashtrians have got. They are well known for Modaks which is either fried of steamed. It is considered that Modak should be offered to Lord Ganesha in order to please him, as it is his favorite sweet. Further, sweets like Amrakhanda which is prepared with yogurt and mangoes are also prominent, especially in the summer season. Basundi is another famous delicacy which is well known among most of us. For Mumbaikars, there is nothing like snacking. It is their favorite pastime being in a city which delivers a variety of food items. There is nothing like bhelpuri, vada pav, pav bhaji and pani puri in the city. The chat varieties in the city provide access to different economic sections of people. One cannot skip these simple yet delicious tastes when in the city.
With the blend of both traditional and modern or contemporary dishes, the local flavors of Maharashtra are for sure to excite us and leave us craving for more!