“Anna he Poornabrahma”, It is a Marathi saying which means food is synonymous to Brahma, the creator of the Universe. Obviously food is a very auspicious and vital aspect of Marathi culture. Maharashtra cuisine boasts of a wide variety of delicacies, ranging from subtly flavoured to tongue-twisting spicy. The cuisine is influenced by the bountiful of seafood from Arabian Sea and locally available ingredients. Marathi cuisine doesn’t have a signature taste. But the best part is that the dishes are not over-kill, despite the wide array of flavours. Rice and bread are the staple food. Lentils, nuts, fish, grated coconut and a wide range of vegetables are used for the preparations. Peanut oil is mostly used for cooking.
Maharashtrian cuisine can be broadly classified into Varadi and Konkani cuisine. Varadi cuisine is prevalent in the interior Vidarbha area and emphasizes on spices like garlic, ginger and red chilli powder, making it relatively spicier. Seafood is the primary ingredient of the coastal Konkan region. Another interesting ingredient is the sweet-sour fruit, Kokum which is used as souring agent in curries. The Konkani cuisine is influenced by Goan and Malvni cuisines. Kolhapuri cuisine has mutton as its top ingredient which is prepared in rich, spicy gravies. Masala papad, speckled with finely chopped onions, chillies, coriander and chaat masala is an essential part of the cuisine. Whilst talking about Maharashtra cuisine, I must make a special mention to Mumbai Chaat (which is my favourite by the way). The famous street foods of Mumbai like Vada-Pav and Pav-Bhaji have won the hearts of millions of people worldwide.
Festivals of Maharashtra are celebrated with prayers, pomp-and-show and good food. Almost every festival calls for a special dish, mostly sweets. Diwali calls for different varieties of laddus, chakli, kadboli, shev, anarasa etc. During the most auspicious of all Maharashtrian festivals, Ganesh Chaturthi, rice/wheat dumplings stuffed with coconut and jiggery called modaks are offered. Shrikand, kheer, motichur ke laddu and Purani Poli (a sweetly filled chapattis) are prepared during Holi.
By Harshvardhan singh.
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