Overlooking the vast expanse of the Arabian Sea, Maharashtrian cuisine is largely influenced by sea-foods and the cuisine that is popular in the interiors of the state presents a strong blend of the traditional and the contemporary preparations. The coastline of Maharashtra is usually called the ‘Konkan’ and boasts its own Konkani cuisine, which is a harmonized combination of Malvani, Gaud Saraswat Brahmin and Goan cuisines. Besides the coastal Maharashtrian cuisine, the interior of Maharashtra or the Vidarbha area has its own distinctive cuisine known as the Varadi cuisine.
Features of Maharashtrian Cuisine
Rice is the staple food grain in Maharashtrian cuisine, alike the other states of India. The Maharashtrian cuisine includes an enormous variety of vegetables in the regular diet and lots of fish and coconuts are used. Coconut is extensively used in cooking and as an embellishment. Grated coconuts spice many kinds of dishes in Maharashtrian cuisine; however coconut oil is not very widely used as a cooking medium. In the coastal cuisine of Maharashtra, fresh coconut is added to the dishes, while in the Vidarbha region, powdered coconut is used for cooking. In Maharashtrian cuisine, peanuts and cashew nuts are widely used in vegetables and peanut oil is used as the main cooking medium. Wide use of kokum, which is a deep purple berry that has a pleasing sweet and sour taste, is also seen in Maharashtra. Jaggery and tamarind are also used in most vegetables or lentils so that the Maharashtrian cuisine pertain a sweet and sour flavour while the kala masala (special mixture of spices) is added to make the food spicy.
Various Delicacies of Maharashtrian Cuisine
Among seafood of Maharashtrian cuisine, the most popular fish is Bombil or the Bombay Duck, while in the vegetarian fare; the most popular vegetables are brinjals. Another typical dish of Maharashtrian cuisine is the ‘Pacchadi’, which is tender brinjals cooked with green mangoes and ornamented with coconut and jaggery. A typical dish of Maharashtrian cuisine is the ‘Patal Bhaji’, a sweet and sour dish flavoured with groundnuts. All non-vegetarian and vegetarian dishes of Maharashtrian cuisine are eaten with boiled rice or with Bhakris, which are soft rotis made of rice flour.
However, Maharashtrian cuisine is incomplete without papads, which are eaten roasted or fried. A typical feature of Marathi food is the masala papad in which finely chopped onions, green chillies and chat masala are speckled over roasted or fried papads. The most popular dessert of Maharashtra is the ‘Puran Poli’, roti stuffed with a sweet mixture of jaggery and gram flour.
Among Maharashtrian cuisine, ‘Chaat’ is probably the most loved snacks, followed by Bhelpuri, Pani Puri, Pav Bhaji and Dosa. The ‘Paan’ culture has been raised to an art form amidst Maharashtrian cuisine. The famous ‘Cold and Sweet Paan’ is sweet filling and chilled.