You’ve just taken a devil’s food cake out of the oven and set it on the counter to cool. Moment by moment, your house fills with the unmistakable, diet-crushing aroma of chocolate, and your mouth fills with watery saliva.
While sitting in your favourite restaurant, a waiter walks past with a hot plate of butter chicken and your mouth starts to water. But why?
When you smell, see or even imagine that you are going to eat food, a signal is sent to your brain’s primary salivary centres in the medulla oblongata to get this party started.
This is how my love for food has always overpowered my senses. Since time immemorial, Aai has served and made me fall in love with such uber cool and lip smacking dishes and delicacies that my sensory organs for taste have always been strong and craved tasty, but nutritional food forever. I love spicy, sweet, sour, bitter and even salty dishes all according to my mood swings. Bringing to you a top score of Maharashtrian delicacies that every Marathi Manus swears by!
These dishes have shaped my food journey!
Poha or pohe is flattened rice, beaten rice or de-husked rice that isflattened into dry flakes. A convenient food, a travel snack that will stay fresh for days and a poor man’s staple, when eaten just with plain water, curd or jaggery. It has the right amount of carb that will sustain you enough throughout the day. When cooked along with vegetables it makes a complete meal. The endless list of garnishing element in poha makes it something super fancy and delightful.
Thalipeeth is a traditional Maharashtrian flatbread named for the way the dough is pressed into shape, using the palm of the hand. Thalipeeth can be made with a variety of different ingredients and flour mixes, but all of them call for patting the dough into a flat disc with an open palm. The reason that thalipeeth is flattened this way is because the dough does not contain gluten, and cannot therefore, be rolled or stretched into shape. In some regions, thalipeeth is also known as dhapata, for the same reason — dhapata means to pat (into shape).
The most beloved thalipeeth is made with a multigrain flour mix called bhajani. Chopped onions, herbs, and other seasonings of choice are added to the dough, and then patted flat onto a tava or griddle, shallow fried in a little oil, and served with fresh butter and a fiery thecha. Bhajani literally translates to roasted flour: this flour combines rice, millets, and lentils that have first been roasted, then grounded, before kneading into a dough.
3. Misal Pav
Misal Pav is a popular Maharashtrian dish that is served for breakfast or as an evening snack. It’s one of the healthy breakfast dishes as it is made up of mixed beans that are sprouted. You can’t get a breakfast recipe healthier than this one!
Misal pav recipe is also considered to be one of the popular Maharashtrian street food ones made from mixed sprouts. The word “misal” in Marathi language means “mixture”. Usal or misal is a spicy curry served as breakfast along with pav (freshly baked Indian style dinner rolls).
It’s a very healthy curry which is made from a variety of sprouts, potatoes and peas. It’s really easy to make and has a lot of nutritional values.
4. Kothimbir Vadi
Kothimbir vadi is a popular Maharashtrian snack made using fresh coriander leaves, besan (gram flour) and basic Indian spices usually served with a cup of tea and tomato ketchup. “Kothimbir” means coriander leaves in Marathi and it plays a key role in this recipe. Firstly, the batter is prepared by mixing the coriander leaves, gram flour and spices with water and then the batter is steam cooked and sliced into small pieces to make vadis, and in the end, the vadis are either shallow fried in a pan or deep fried until crispy.
5. Puran Poli
An Indian delicacy made by stuffing soft whole wheat dough with soft cooked yellow lentils, jaggery/brown sugar, cardamom, nutmeg and saffron. It is then rolled thin and cooked on a griddle with lots of ghee to make it into a golden brown, flavorful and aromatic flat bread. When torn apart it has a ooey-gooey perfection.
6. Surlichi Wadi
Think of a Swiss roll; only the “cake” is a silky, thin sheet of cooked chickpea flour and the filling is a savory mixture of coconut, herbs and chillies, so it is nothing like a Swiss roll, except that it is a roll. This delightful little bite is commonly called Suralichi Wadi in Maharashtra (surali is roll) and Khandvi in Gujarat. I am not sure if other states of India also make this but it is popular in these two Western states. You will find mounds of khandvi beautifully stacked on counters in halwai shops (akin to delis) all over Pune and Mumbai. It is a dish that Aai (my mum) often made when she had too much rapidly-souring yogurt on her hands and needed to use it up quickly. Suralichi Wadi is served cold or at room temperature, making it the perfect snack for hot days, but of course that should not stop anyone from making/eating it during any other weather.
7. Alu Wadi and Not Aloo
Alu Wadi is a snack that is popular in Maharashtra and Gujarat. Colocasia or Alu leaves are stuffed and rolled. These are steamed and then shallow or deep fried to make a delicious snack.
8. Rava Sheera
The quintessential almonds and cashew rich soft and savory Rava Sheera prepared without milk is a welcome treat for taste buds at anytime and can give tough competition to best of best sweets on the table. However, its mellow and aromatic sweet taste is not the only thing that makes it the best, the ease of preparation can help you entertain your guests at short notice. It is also popular as Sooji Ka Halwa and served as prasadam in puja.
Please post more of your favourites in the comments!!
Rucha S Khot