Born and brought up in a Marathi household is a dream come true. I am surrounded with great food always; be it breakfast, lunch, supper, dinner, midnight snacks anything. You name it and the cuisine has everything for you. I have always felt that Maharashtrian food is always under estimated; people cannot go beyond vada paav, kanda bhaji and misal paav. But it has so much more to it… so I am going to highlight what exactly is Marathi cooking and especially my style of food.
As Marathi language transforms into various dialects every 12 miles within the state, same is the case with its food. I feel that the food decides community and not the other way round. I have had on numerous occasions got the chance to taste different variety of Marathi food thanks to my friends in college. The beauty of my food (that’s what I am going to call Marathi food from now…) lies in the simplicity. The preparations may look easy to make, but the impact and the taste it has is amazing because of the efforts in it.
Starting from simple varan bhaat and tup (daal rice with ghee); the prima donna of my food to the epic, like perfectly shaped chakli; all has some very peculiar taste determining step! The beauty of Marathi food lies in the minute details that amalgamate together to give us that amazing dish. For example, sheera has being the breakfast item in almost every Marathi house, which is very common and is cooked almost on weekly basis (unlike the Hindi serials Suji ka Halva…lol); but if the rava (semolina) is not perfectly roasted it can just ruin the dish. That’s the true essence of the Marathi food.
In fact I love the part that food plays in every Indian ritual and festival ; be it the Ganpati or Satyanarayan naivedya (meal offered to god) or the daily offering like milk or sugar (which I used to cherish from my sweet neighbor’s house 😛 :P). Puran poli for Holi, Srikhand for Gudi Padwa, Modaks for Ganpati, Basundi for Dussera or Diwali are very much fixed menu in every Marathi household. The greatness of this food is in the fact that Marathi cuisines (may be from any community) has a defined and specific plating technique. This plating technique is more highlighted during festivals, religious ceremonies or during community meals. The funda behind this is that each and every eatable (right from heap of rice to pinch of salt) is important and has an assigned place in the diet. I love plating the naivedya during every Satyanarayan puja we have at home just because of this.
Good food and where to find it…
Just like a true Tamilian who is never bored with the vadas and idlis, similarly I am never fed up of pohe, upma, sheera and khichdi. Nowadays every nook and every corner has these table shops (that’s what I call these small eateries serving the food near Railway stations) which have breakfast, some of it is actually good but most of it is just the impact of the running Mumbai life where people just stop for some snack. But there are very much authentic places in Mumbai I have visited, that gives you best Marathi food.
One such great place is Aswaad, situated at Shivaji Park (Dadar), the heart of the city. Great taste, good ambience and totally reasonable that’s what makes it perfect for breakfast, lunch or dinner. The best thing about Aswaad is that it provides wholesome meal and not just the “vada paavs” and “missal paavs”. The yummiest of all at Aswaad in my opinion is Thaalipeeth (mix flour spiced, flat, shallow fried and crisp pancakes) along with curd chutney and a heart filled dollop of white butter; which is totally mouth wateringgg!!!!
It has a variety of offerings like kanda pohe, Batata vada, kothimbir wadi (can be imagined as coriander based small cutlets), dahi missal, authentic bhakari and pithla, masaale bhaat and most famous in the menu Piyush (thick saffron flavoured milk shake). There are other joints too in the same area like Prakash Upahaar gruh (try out the Sabudana vada and Batate pohe) or Ekadashi Uphaar gruh with the same concept and similar quality of food.
Another joint in Mumbai, where I have tried and loved is the Sujata Uphaar gruh at Thakurdwar, Girgaon (situated in South Mumbai). The taste is awesome; perfectly made Maharashtrian cuisines. I personal favourite here is the Kothimbir wadi and Poori Bhaji. The thali available here is also delicious with variety of vegetables and sweet to be decided from Gulab jamun, Srikhand and Doodhi Halwa.
Thane also has its share of the authentic Marathi eating joints. Starting with the ever green Mamledaar’s Misal joint to the now gaining popularity The Gokhale Uphaar gruh; there will be many and my hunt will be on.
The satisfaction that I get while having this awesome cuisine is to the highest level. May be that’s the reason I chose to talk about the awesomest Marathi food for my very first food blog.. The quest for good food will always be on and treasures like this will be cherished for the life time. More about the Assal Marathi food coming in the part 2 of the series.