The unexplored taste of Maharashtra

Vinaya Patil
Tuesday, 30 January 2018

Tadka Maharashtracha at The Cafe, Hyatt Regency in Viman Nagar, offers a peek into the food of the Marathwada and Vidarbha regions (central and east Maharashtra)

Maharashtrian cuisine offers a burst of flavours for food lovers. If you want to take a spice ride across the regions of Marathwada and Vidarbha, which not only offer delectable fare but great hospitality too, embark on a culinary trail right away with chef Prasen and chef Sujay at the Hyatt Regency.

Savour the popular Zunka Bhakri, Shengole — stewed cereal dumplings in a spicy broth and a lost recipe of Maharashtra, or Paturi Rassa — Bengal gram fudge in a spicy gravy, and you will find yourself indulging more in this delightful cuisine.

We particularly loved the jowar bhakri served to us. It was small but extremely soft, with a generous spread of ghee, and so were the phulkas. But you cannot let go of the bhakri at a Maharashtra food festival. The Zunka and Sandgyachi Bhaaji left us impressed.

Sandgyachi Bhaaji has (what Maharashtrians call ‘sandge’) small dumplings made from different dals. These can be preserved for months and are a life-saver when no other vegetable is available. It is quite famous in households, especially in the Marathwada and Vidarbha regions, and hence found a place in the festival, the chefs tell us.

For meat lovers, there is Marathwada Mutton — a flavourful lamb preparation from Marathwada, Latur Special Mutton Biryani — a cardamom scented, low on spice but flavourful biryani, Methi Keema — fenugreek-flavoured mutton keema — a street food special apart from the many delightful offerings. Also worth mentioning is their Osmanabadi Chicken. It had the right amount of spice and flavour.

“We have got the masalas from a lady in Marathwada and hence the food is as authentic as it can get,” chef Prasen informs, also pointing to the papad which has been homemade. Vidarbha and Marathwada are two regions that are often ignored when it comes to Maharashtrian cuisine, says the chef who himself belongs to Vidarbha and could thus get the right taste to the food here. “We often only focus on the sea food etc when we speak of Maharashtrian food habits. But that’s not entirely true. Hence we decided to choose these regions,” he says, as he takes us around.

At the festival are these small grinding stones (called Pata Varvanta in Marathi) with ingredients of various traditional chutneys set atop them. These ancestral kitchen tools were a must in Marathi households a few years ago. You can still see them in every home in rural Maharashtra and some urban households too. This setup lends a nice homely feel to the festival and gives you a complete experience of dining in Maharashtra.

Another aspect worth throwing light on is the thali system at the festival. It is a rare occasion for a food festival to have a steel thali with just enough number of dishes in it — making it simple and delightful, just how a food plate in any home from this region would look, instead of making it too fancy and grand.

So if you want a taste of homemade Maharashtrian regional cuisine, head to the festival.

The ongoing Tadka Maharashtracha Food Festival will continue till February 4, lunch and dinner (buffet and thali) at The Café, Hyatt Regency Pune, Weikfield IT Park, Viman Nagar

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