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Category: FOOD AND HEALTH

Tasting Kashmir in the streets of Delhi

The word ‘Kashmir’ is highly evocative. Just think Kashmir and a series of images flash through the head. The floating market on an opalescent Dal Lake, the elaborate, intricately carved houseboats and the sun setting on a shining, white Gulmarg. And the food. Multi-hued and quasi-flavoured, each dish in the Valley has its own exotic fragrance. Meatballs too big to be true, fiery curries, the fragrant Kahva and the pale Noon Chai — that’s the magic of Wazwan.

According to some sources, Wazwan is the namesake of ancient chefs from Samarkand (the cultural capital of Central Asia in the 15th century), who accompanied the raiders to India and later settled down in Kashmir. It refers to the full 36-course meal of Kashmiri Muslims, cooked by Wazas (or chefs) who have been doing it for generations. Therefore, Wazwan food needs to be eaten in its traditional, authentic form so that it could be comprehended (and thus appreciated) even slightly. Unfortunately, south of the Valley, there aren’t too many places that offer authentic Wazwan.

But Srinagar-based Abdul Ahad Waza wasn’t content to confine Wazwan food to Kashmir. The descendant of a long line of Wazas, he was determined to spread the food and its culture as widely as he could. The fruit of his labour is the Wazwan behemoth, Ahad Sons. For more than 30 years, the family has been purveying authentic Wazwan fare to a legion of admirers, which is growing constantly. Now managed by Ahad’s three sons — Sharif, Shafi and Rafiq — the company cooks and packages the food in Kashmir before sending it down to their tiny branch office in Delhi’s Uday Park, for distribution. Kashmiri natives swear by it and lovingly carry tins with them whether travelling within India or abroad. But they’re not the only ones buying.

“Earlier, we used to cook fresh food and our clients would take it with them wherever they travelled. In order to make it easier for them, in 2000, we started packaging our food in tins. Now, the food has a shelf life of six months and our customers are able to enjoy Wazwan wherever they are,” says Shafi, who handles the Delhi office. Apart from tinning Wazwan food, the company does massive business in catering for events — ranging from intimate dinner parties to lavish five-star events and even government functions. “Since we provide the best Kashmiri fare, we have a huge demand throughout the year from politicians, film stars and everyone,” says the company’s manager SN Kohl.

But Ahad Sons is not the sole provider of Wazwan food in Delhi. There’s also Waza, whose story started in the ’80s. In 1983, Arvind Mehta started a catering service in his home town, Jammu, specialising in Wazwan fare. While the company flourished, Mehta was quite content in his place of birth. “It was only last year that a couple of friends, along with myself, decided that the time was ripe to expand Waza’s operations to other cities,” says Mehta.

Their first outlet came up in July 2011 in South Delhi’s Malviya Nagar. But the “mixed land policy” of the Municipal Corporation of Delhi made it tough for them to continue operating from there, and Mehta was compelled to shut shop last month. In the meantime, he started two more outlets in Chittaranjan Park and Gurgaon, and plans are ripe to open another one in the upmarket Defence Colony, besides expanding to Lucknow next month.

Given its enormous market in the Capital, one wonders why Ahad Sons hasn’t yet opened a restaurant here. But it’s not that they haven’t toyed with the idea. Kohl explains, “Wazwan is meant to be eaten seated on the floor, which would be a very hard concept to sell in a restaurant. Many people believe eating the Wazwan food on a table will give it an entirely different taste.

 

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KASHMIRI FOOD CUISINE!

Get ready to salivate extensively for the next five minutes with these mind-numbing and mouth-watering Kashmiri dishes…

Being a Kashmiri pandit myself, there are a lot of myths and misunderstandings (that is, leaving aside the different pronunciations that people across the world come up with) regarding the food that is associated with Kashmiri cuisine and hence came up with this week’s blog idea to introduce some of the most famous and mouth-watering dishes from Kashmir to one and all. Kashmiri food is known to be very rich in spices and is a favourite among those who love spicy food. Some of the below mentioned dishes are a few of tourists’ as well as my favourites as well! These dishes are more popular or associated with the Kashmiri pandit cuisine, rather than with the Kashmiri Muslims.
As a matter of fact, most of the following dishes are always made in Kashmiri marriages or special occasions like Kashur birthdays (i.e. Kashmiri birthdays: Yes, Kashmiris have their own Kashmiri calendar according to which a person’s birthday falls on a particular date and that is taken and celebrated to be his/her birthday. The interesting point here is that earlier till 20-30 odd years back, some of the Kashmiris didn’t even know their real birth dates because their Kashmiri birth dates used to fall on different dates each year!),and occasions like ashthami etc. Here a few of the famous Kashmiri dishes that are a must have on your food menu, if anyone ever plans a trip to the place:

  • Rogan Josh: Rogan joshis undoubtedly

    rogan josh

    the most famous and loved dish ever from
    the Kashmiri cuisine, by both the Kashmiris
    as well as the non-Kashmiris who have tasted the dish. Rogan josh is nothing but lamb cooked in hot, spicy red gravy. But beware! It is bound to be very spicy and is known to be a heavenly delight for spicy non-vegetarian lovers!

  • Yakhni: Yakhniis what

    lamb yakhni

    we call lamb cooked in curd based gravy. It’s not spicy but is
    definitely a must have
    dish for those who visit Kashmir or want to experience Kashmiri food cuisine as this dish is an integral part of the food culture in Kashmir.

    Matschgand- minced meatballs

  • Matschgand:  Matschgand are hand-made minced meatballs, which is later cooked in spicy red gravy, which will seduce your taste buds into having more and more of them and you won’t be even guilty of developing a bad stomachache because of over-eating this spicy dish.

    meatballs in yogurt gravy

  • Goshtaba: A delicacy – mutton minced with various Kashmiri spices, shaped into balls and
    cooked in a very flavourful yogurt gravy- a creamy sauce.

    modur pulao

  • Modur Pulao: Modur’ means sweet.
    Modur pulao is nothing but sweet
    pulao which is rice prepared with
    cinnamon, a little saffron, milk, ghee,
    sugar, cashew nuts, almonds, green
    cardamom and cloves to name a few.
    Sweet Pulao is said to be usually served as a dessert but there is no such tradition in most of the Kashmiri families that I have seen around me, including my own. Definitely not one of my favourites.


    lyodur chaman

  • Lyodur Tschaman:
    Lyodur means yellow (turmeric) and tschaman  means cottage cheese or simply paneer. This dish is simply Cottage Cheese cooked in creamy turmeric based gravy. It is a top favourite amongst vegetarian Kashmiris and is very often cooked on a day to day basis.

    dum aloo

  • Dum Oluv or aloo:
    Everyone is familiar with this dish and might have tasted it as well. Dum oluv or aloo is a dish of whole potatoes cooked in spicy red gravy which if cooked properly in the typical Kashmiri way, can bring various flavours to your mouth and tears of sheer pleasure in your eyes.
  • Muj Gaad:

    muj-gaad (radish and fish)

    ‘Muj gaad’ is one among the most favorite dishes of Kashmiri pandits. This dish basically comprises of fish which is deep fried first and then added to red spicy gravy along with radish and is then topped with grinded ajwain in the end. It is a dish to kill and die for!

    nadir-yakhni

  • Nadir-Waangan:This dish comprises of lotus stems with brinjal and can be cooked in two different ways- one is cooked in red spicy gravy and the other with a yogurt base curry/gravy.
  • Nadir-haak/Gogji/Monji:This is a dish favourite among the locals wherein lotus stems are cooked with spinach/saag or radish which somehow turns out to be finger-licking  good.

    haak

  • Haak-monji: This is the most commonly
    made dish you will find in any Kashmiri
    household. This dish consists of spinach/saag
    along with radish (preferably) and is made
    almost every other day in any Kashmiri household. It is very good for eyes and even though it looks a little bland, but it actually is unbelievably tasty.

    gogji razma

  • Raazma-Gogji:This dish is primarily a raazma (kidney beans) dish but along with turnip pieces in it. The turnip gives a different Kashmiri twist to the dish altogether, which makes it different than the way raazma is usually made.

    chok wangun

  • Chouck Waangan: Chouck waangan means sour brinjals. It is a dish in which brinjals are cut length-wise, fried and then mixed with tamarind water and other spices. It is an extremely chapatti dish which is bound to let out a ‘click’ sound from your mouth.

And of course, the most famous of all, the Kashmiri tea, also known as ‘kehwa’ (originally pronounced as ‘keh-wa’, not ‘ka-wa’) is a must try drink for all. It is a type of tea which is boiled and cardamom, almonds and sugar are added to it. It is said to have medicinal properties as well. ‘Kehwa’ is also given to people suffering with a cold or sore throat as it relieves the pain and irritability of the ailment.

kehwa

Over 20 varieties of Kehwa
are prepared in different
households. Some people
also put milk in kehwa (half
milk + half kehwa). This
chai is also known as
Mughal Chai” by some
Kashmiri Pandits from the
smaller villages of Kashmir.

 
I have grown up eating all these fabulous, mouthwatering, and spicy and chapatti dishes and hands down, Kashmiri cuisine continues to be my personal favourite ever tasted.

–Sakshi Raina
TYBMM

Mumbai Street Food

When Mumbaikars talk about fast food they mean pav bhaji and bhel puri, not rolls and burgers. It is the best part of Mumbai. The city has a tremendous appetite for snacks, and street vendors know how to cater to this hunger. The best place to try the city’s age old fast food is Khau Galli. a small lane off Zaveri Bazaar packed with interesting food stalls. In the menu of street food, vada pav, bhelpuri, pav bhaji and pani puri are the favourites of mumbaikars.

I’ll start  with vada pav . This was actually served as a teatime snack. Interestingly the dish has transformed into an iconic street food item. It is actually the bread bun stuffed with a nice fat oily batata wada. The batata wada is sprinkled with garlic –chilli powder and additional green and tamarind chutni is also offered along with it. Not all vada pav joints are good, but a few of them like Anand Vada Pav, M M Mithaiwala, are famous. The cutting chai is a great accompaniment to the vada pav and is  available at almost every small eatery or joint. The marine drive is famous for its bhelpuri. As one bites into the crisp papdi, there’s a burst of flavours like sweet, sour, tangy and hot! Some bhelpuri sellers even come and sell it inside the buildings on marine drive. It’s simply lovely to eat it with hands and making them messy. Whether it’s monsoon on any other season mumbaikars don’t care. They just have to dig into their bhelpuri once a week. The dish cost just Rs 15. Pav bhaji is Mumbai’s own invention and an absolute rage. The dish is basically made on a griddle in front of us and one of the best pav bhaji i had was at juhu chowpatty beach. It was lip smacking. Coming to panipuri, there are thousands and thousands of panipuri stalls across the city. So the mumbaikars are always assured of fulfilling their chat cravings.

 

In Mumbai, the city of high spirits and dreams, eating out sometimes becomes more of a necessity than choice. This cosmopolitan city has plenty to offer to localities and travellers. It has amazing Chinese, Punjabi, Guajarati and Italian food joints. The starters at china garden, kemps corner are crisp and lovely. The Punjabi food at Crystal a marine drive, joint is amazing and affordable. It is a very a student friendly joint. Even after having a platter of Nan, paneer bhurji, ma ki dal, jeera rice and fruit cream, one will come out paying less than two hundred bucks.

The upbeat theme and wall pictures at Cafe  Mondegar, Colaba  contribute to the fun filled atmosphere. I went there with a friend last week.  While he enjoyed his Heineken beer, I enjoyed a fabulous fried egg. Taj Trattoria, has the most amazing cheesy pastas and Italian expresso.  Cafe basilico at Colaba, another Italian restaurant has amazing breads and dips. After staying in Mumbai for two years I can definitely say that Mumbai has something to offer to every food lover.

Glad I moved beyond Mohammad Ali Road this Ramzan

Most of the world celebrated Eid on the 20th of August this year. Eid marks the end of the holy month of Ramadan, also known as Ramzan. World over, Muslims observe fasts and offer prayers during Ramzan. These fasts, that involve refraining from consuming food and liquids, are observed from dawn to dusk for 29 or 30 days, depending on the visual sighting of the crescent moon. At sunset, Muslims offer a prayer and break their fast. This fast breaking meal is known as ‘Iftar’.

Being a foodie, the month of Ramzan, is something that I look forward to every year; only for the Iftar. Every year, I make it a point to treat myself to at least one Iftar. Mumbai has endless number of places that offer excellent Iftar food; the most well known being Mohammad Ali Road and Bohri Mohalla. There are no two ways about the fact that these places offer an insane variety of Iftar food, so tasty that it could out do the best chefs in the world, at throwaway prices. However, for someone living in the suburbs like me, Mohammad Ali Road and Bohri Mohalla are extremely far away.

After treating myself to Mohammad Ali Road early this Ramzan, I set out to discover more places across the city, closer home. With almost no help from google (there wasn’t much information available) and a hungry stomach, I set out to Mahim and Jogeshwari, looking for a good Iftar. The logic behind going to these areas was the heavy Muslim population in both these areas and to my surprise, I struck gold at both these places. Undoubtedly, these places were much smaller compared to the South Mumbai eateries, but I promise you they were no less varied.

Balamia Road, Mahim’s khau galli

Balamia Road, opposite Mahim durgah, in the lane beside hotel Midland, is where Mahim’s khau galli is located. Known for its baida roti and khichada (and rightly so, both the dishes are unbelievably awesome,) the lane is said to offer foodies every kind of meat available.

Chicken Vada Pav was the most unusual dish available at the khau galli. It’s something that looks just like a regular vada pav, but with chicken instead of potato; tender and juicy, cooked to perfection. In addition to the chicken tandooris and the mutton kababs, another striking feature of this khau galli is that, this place does not disappoint vegetarians. The vegetarian options being chana chat and dum aloo. My favorite of the two was the dum aloo; with just the right amount of spice, the aloo was cooked so well, it almost melted in my mouth. The best part of the Mahim food experience however was the khichada. Khichada is the Indian equivalent to Pakistan’s haleem. A mixture of various daals and meat cooked on a slow flame served with a dash of lemon, garnished with mint and deep fried onions, the khichada at Mahim’s khau galli was undoubtedly the best I have ever eaten. Amidst all the chaos, I wouldn’t be lying if I said that I found peace in that bowl of khichada.

The Chicken Vada, also served as Chicken Vada Pav

A bowl of khichada

The khau galli has a wide variety for those with a sweet tooth. Right in the middle of the lane, there are a few stalls selling halwa-parathas; not exceptionally good, but worth trying in my opinion. Maybe it was the chicken vada pav and the khichada that increased my expectations form the halwa-paratha or maybe it was the atrocious neon orange colored halwa that just made it less appetizing. My pick for desserts at the khau galli would be at the Usman Suleimanbhai Mithaiwala located close to Paradise cinema. The shop offers fresh, hot, sizzling malpuas; so huge that three of us struggled to finish one. Dripping off ghee and leaving trails of it on your fingers, this is not something you would want to eat if you are health conscious. Apart from the malpua, the place also sells excellent firni. The firni, also available in mango and kesar flavors, was creamy, milky, warm, not too sweet; just right.

The atrocious looking neon orange halwa

Usman Suleimanbhai Mithaiwala’s malpuas

After my Mahim experience, I headed to Jogeshwari the next day. The lane opposite Boston hotel near Jogeshwari station, S.V. road, was a mini Mohammad Ali Road; crowded and full of stalls selling delicious food, that looked as good as it smelled and tasted. From seekh kababs to halwa puri, from chicken cutlets to phirni, Jogeshwari did prove to be an amazing fooding experience.

Boston restaurant near Jogeshwari station, a major landmark to Jogeshwari’s khau galli

Nawabbhai’s humble little stall sells probably the best boti kababs and tawa parathas in the area. Served with spicy green chutney, the steaming hot kababs melted in my mouth almost immediately. Seekh kababs, in my opinion were better at my all time favorite Farid Seekh Kabab at Behrambaug, not too far away from Jogeshwari station. Soft and so juicy that you can actually squeeze the juice out, spiced and cooked (on charcoal) to perfection. Farid’s Seekh kababs taste best with lemon, onion, the spicy green chutney served along with it and a bottle of ThumsUp brought from a nearby shop. Jogeshwari also offers excellent tandoori chicken and bheja at Munna’s stall, located close to the station. Though he is open till the wee hours of the morning, most of his stuff gets exhausted a little after midnight.

Best seekh kababs in Jogeshwari (if not Mumbai)

Jogeshwari’s food stalls offered some brilliant desserts as well. My favorite from what I ate there would have to be the halwa puri. Being one of my most favorite desserts of all times, I devoured the halwa puri I ate at one of the stalls located in the very beginning of the lane. Steaming hot and not too sweet, the halwa, garnished with dry fruits, tasted excellent with the freshly fried puris.

Over and all, I am happy I moved outside Mohammad Ali Road and Bohri Mohalla this year, and discovered some places I was totally unaware of. Jogeshwari and Mahim did offer me some unparallel gastronomic experiences. The best part about these places, apart from being close to home, is that most of these stalls are open through the year, which means, I will not have to have to control my khichada and malpua cravings for an entire year before I get to eat them during Ramzan.

My only disappointment with both these areas was that I wasn’t able to find their equivalent for Mohammad Ali Road’s Taj ice creams’ hand churned strawberry ice-cream.

 

Image courtesy:

http://travelandfeeding.blogspot.in/2011/08/return-to-mohammed-ali-road.html

https://profiles.google.com/112101364569673333466/buzz/9EB4uwqjXts

http://www.flickr.com/photos/17968290@N08/3967725241/

http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=132991750070033&set=a.144703028898905.25713.132774060091802&type=3&theater

 

Shruti Shenoy
TYBMM

The Kutuchi Cuisine

The best way to explore and understand a new place is by its cuisine

Most Indians love to travel and explore new places but we Indians are criticised for not knowing how to explore a new destination. A professor at Narsee Monjee College, Mumbai (identity not to be revealed on request) said, “We Indians don’t know how to travel and explore new places. Where ever we go, we carry our traditional Indian food or we try finding Indian restaurants at those new places. I believe the best way to explore and understand a new place is by its cuisine.” In addition he says, “Do you know why foreigners are the best travellers? Reason: they experiment with different cuisines.”

Like most of us, I too love to travel and explore new places. My recent visit was to Kutch, Gujarat. In this article, I’m going to explore the traditional cuisine of Kutuchi’s which I discovered during my visit to the Kutch. Ms. Jyoti Nandu, a resident at Kodai Village, Kutch, said, “Most of the times, we Kutuchi’s are mistaken as Gujarati’s and this is one of the reasons why people think that our cuisine is same as the Gujarati cuisine. I thank you for giving me an opportunity to share our Kutuchi cuisine with you’ll. This will help us create awareness amongst people about the Kutuchi community.” In addition, she said, “What differentiates every community from other community is its cuisine. Our traditional cuisines are Bajre ki Roti, Dabeli, Dal Dhokli, Khichdi and curry and Finiya laddu.”

Ms. Jyoti Nandu shares the traditional Kutuchi cuisines recipe with us.

  • Bajre ki Roti: She said, “We have Bajre ki Roti with makkhan (Ghar ka butter) in our breakfast. Our breakfast meal is a heavy meal and a substitute for lunch.  All day my children are occupied with work which is one of the reasons why they skip their lunches. A heavy breakfast  helps them to work all day long.” It is prepared from Bajre Ka Aata (Millet Flour), Whole Wheat Flour, Carom Seeds, Ghee and Salt. Bajre ki roti tastes best when it is hot.

Bajre Ki Roti with Makkhan and Green Chilli

  • Dabeli: She said, “We have dabeli in our evening snacks. It a type of a chaat and another version of Vada Pav.” The Dabeli filling is prepared from potatoes, cumin seeds, asafoetida, salt, pomegranate, onions, peanuts and Khajur Imli ki chutyney. This filling is filled in a bun or bread.

Dabeli

  • Dal Dhokli: She said, “We have Dal Dhokli with papad and rice in our dinner. One can also have Dal Dhokli without rice but it tastes better with the rice.” The Dhokli is prepared from whole wheat flour, besan, salt, coriander-cumin seeds, oil, chilli powder, and asafoetida. The Dal is prepared from arhar dal (toovar), tomatoes, peanuts, ginger, green chillies, curry leaves, jiggery, tamarind, chilli powder, garam masala, coriander and salt.

Dal Dhokli

  • Khichdi and Khadi (Curry): She said, “Khichdi is prepared for dinner and we have it with Curry.  It is one of the lightest meals. There are two types of Khichdi’s- Masala and Plain.” The Plain Khichdi is prepared from rice, moong dal and jeera. The Masala Khichdi is prepared from rice, moong dal, jeera, oil and cinnamon, mustard, onions, asafoetida, potato, carrots, chillies, garlic and ginger paste and garam masala. The curry is prepared separately. It is prepared from yogurt, water, besan, turmeric powder, salt, sugar, fenugreek leaves, coriander, mustatrd, cumin, ajwain, asafoetida, green chillies, ginger, curry leaves and oil. Curry can also be eaten with chapatti.

Khadi (Curry)

Khichdi

  • Finiya laddu: She said, “Finiya laddu is a sweet dish and it is prepared during all occasions. On the other hand, every household out here will have this sweet prepared without any occasion.” It is prepared from wheat flour, ghee, cardamom and sugar.

I thank Ms. Jyoti Nandu for sharing the recipes and helping me to understand the Kutuchhi community a little better. She hopes that all the readers prepare these dishes and hopefully like them. I am definitely going to prepare these dishes.  Are you’ll ready to try something new?

Ruchi Nandu- T.Y.BMM

Mohammad Ali Road- The Festive Food Hub

Image

On the arrival of dawn, one street that gets really busy especially during the holy month of Ramzan or Ramadan is ‘Mohammad Ali Road’. For a person like me who has spent 19 years in Mumbai and has not been to Mohammad Ali Road yet, it was a complete shame. Hence this year was a must!

Mohammad Ali Road is known for its delicious food especially during the holy month of Ramadan or Ramzan. After reading up about the place in great detail, I was all geared up to eat to my heart’s content. I decided to pull along a few friends of mine, who are complete foodies and have been here before.

Our first step was to take a cab to the destination, which is a better option for those who haven’t been to the place ever (the lanes there can be really confusing there). We reached there in half an hour and stopped at the first lane. The first thing we noticed was the crowd, followed by the lights which beautifully adorned the Masjid and the buildings around it. Entering the lane itself was a task! We decided to explore the place a little before feasting on the delicious food there. There were many stalls selling bags, footwear, dry fruits, sweets and Mughlai dishes.

After all the growling and ogling at the mouth-watering food we finally entered a restaurant, Hindustan Hotel, which is famous for its ‘Chota Kebab and Lamba Pav’ for just Rs.25 a plate. 8 pieces of small kebabs filled with loads of flavours and two pieces of Pav, served hot with lemon, was worth the money.

Around the corner you will find many Shawarma stalls that sell the Chicken Shawarma for just Rs.20. A must try for Shawarma lovers. Our next stop was a place where you can have the main course. We decided to sit at the roadside stall and not opt for the air conditioned compartment as that would just take the ‘Khau Galli´ feel away. The food side stall was attached to a restaurant called Janata, whose speciality was the Kebabs (which were placed vertically on seekhs in different colours) and Chicken 65. We ordered for the Pahadi Kebab, Reshmi Kebab, Malai Kebab, Chicken Tikka, Seekh Kebab and the famous Chicken 65, each in small quantities. Each one of them looked mouth-watering and tasted even better.The best one out of the six items were the crispy Chicken 65 and the spicy Seekh Kebab. The total bill came upto Rs. 590 inclusive of cold drinks, mineral water and bread (pav).

Image       Image       Image

Our next stop was Noorani, which is known for its ’Malpua’, an egg based pancake which is deep fried in a huge wok like utensil and the size is as big a meal plate. Definitely too much for one person to eat but the fragrance and flavours of this dish, which is served hot with Rabdi, is a great combo and a must have!  Another item which this place is famous for is the Masala Milk which is made by them. All of this would cost Rs. 150.

Image

So in one night we had a three course meal, consisting of a great variety and we spent just Rs. 500 per person (inclusive of travelling- by cab). It is an occasion every person must experience. The sight of not only the food but also the efforts of the people are a great thing to see. A must visit for all.

Some of the other must visits around the area are:

  • Zaika, J.J. Junction – Chicken Roll- Rs. 30
  • JJ Jalebiwala, J.J. Junction– Kali Jalebi- Rs. 20 a plate
  • Suleimaan Usman Mithaiwala, I.M. Merchant Road– Classic Firni– Rs. 25, Flavoured Firni– Rs. 32- 34
  • Noor Mohammedi Hotel,Abdul Hakim Chowk– Nalli Nihari- Rs.60

Alice Peter

TYBMM Journalism

Sophia College for Women

SUGRAAS BHOJAN

Exploring the Marathi Cuisine

One of the first things that a travel journalist explores about a place is not as much the landscape or people as the special cuisine of that region. Again, cuisine does not just refer to a Sada or Masala Dosa of Kerala or Vada Pav of Mumbai or the Pan Cakes of Odisha. These are food items available across the country or globe for that matter. A travel journalist has accomplished his/ her duty if he/ she has made the efforts to sneak into the kitchens of ardent natives of that particular region and aimed at connecting the very many unique food items with the celebrations and culture. Also, given, how cross cultural our states are, one encounters myriad culinary delights within just one state. My intention in this particular feature is to explore Maharashtra cuisine and its beautiful culture along the way.

ZHUNKA BHAKRI

Let us begin with what is known as the staple food of Maharashtra. As we all know, Maharashtra is one of the largest agrarian states in the country. Its staple food originates from the homes of countless farmers who heavily rely on carbohydrates for energy. It is famously called “Zhunka Bhakri.” Bhakri refers to Roti made of Bajra. And Zhunka is a Dal like curry prepared from Besan that is cooked with salt, chillies and onions. This is often accompanied with “Mirchi ki Chutney” or chutney made out of green chillies. This preparation is often eaten on a daily basis in various parts of Maharashtra. Among them are Kolhapur, Solapur, Nagpur, Jalgaon and Vidarbha. In the elite parts of Maharashtra, this particular food item is cooked with other spices and condiments, and served in big restaurants, corporate office canteens and so forth as a “Maharashtra special”. But in common households, a simple Zhunka Bhakri along with raw onions, a pinch of salt and a freshly prepared Mirchi ki Chutney is eaten with great delight.

VANGA BHARIT

The next food item on the list celebrates the sense of community. I’m sure not many are aware of this culture that marks out Jalgaon from all other towns. It is the famous “Bharit Party,” Bharit referring to “Baigun ka Bharta,” Eggplant Curry being a loose translation of it in English. Mostly, during summer nights, several families within an immediate neighbourhood gather in a garden to celebrate this party. Men folks build a bonfire and set up a grilled mesh to roast Eggplants. The eggplants are roasted while the families gathered sing songs and engage in interactive activities. After the eggplants are roasted properly, the skin is peeled and the soft part of the vegetable is mashed along with salt and spices. They then sit together and eat the Bharit along with “Jowari Bhakri” or Rotis made of Jowar that the women make before hand in their homes and carry in casseroles. A sense of belonging coupled with delicious food that one witnesses in Jalgaon is absolutely exemplary.

POORAN POLI

“Holi re Holi, Pooraanchi Poli,” is a famous line that Maharashtrians sing as they celebrate the colourful festival of Holi. “Pooran Poli” tops a typical Marathi cuisine list. Poli in Marathi means Paratha and Pooran refers to the ground mixture of Chana Daal or chickpea lentils, Saffron, Cardamom, sugar and nutmeg that is stuffed into the Parathas. This particular item becomes an indispensable part of the Marathi cuisine. It is served as a dessert along with Gur or jaggery on festivals like the Padwa, or Marathi New Year, Holi and so forth.

MODAK

“Deva Shree Ganesha,” and “Modak” go hand in hand in this very colourful state of Maharashtra. Lord Ganesha being the principal deity of the state is loved, pampered and showered with great affection, so much so, that he even has his favourite sweet dumpling, the Modak. Be it a small pandal or a Siddhi Vinayak, the festival is marked by quintals of delicious Modaks being distributed among countless devotees.  It is interesting to note that the ambrosia is prepared in different styles in different parts of the state. The standard method of preparing Modaks is by kneading dough. The stuffing that goes into the soft Modak consists of grated coconut, sugar and jaggery that is deep fried in oil. The dough is rolled on a floured surface and the stuffing is place at the centre. Then the soft floury exterior is given interesting shapes. In places like Mumbai and Ratnagiri, this Modak is boiled inside a pressure cooker. In other places like Pune, Nashik and Vidarbha, the same preparation is fried in oil or ghee. Often referred to as the Modakpriya (the one who likes Modak), Lord Ganesha definitely gives us all a chance to enjoy the unique and delicious sweet that sweetens the occasion manifold.

CHAKLI

With Diwali come dishes like Chakli or Murukku. A widely available snack now, Chakli is made in almost every Marathi household on the occasion of Diwali, the festival of light. It resembles a Jalebi in terms of shape but it is crunchy and spicy in taste.

KARANJI

Another item that requires special mention is Karanji. The exterior is made of Rava and Maida. It contains a sweet stuffing of mainly coconut, sugar and honey is deep fried in oil. Being one of the “Panch Pakwaan” or five main dishes that are served to Goddess Laxmi during Diwali, the Karanji is a favourite among almost every Maharashtrian.

There are very many delicacies besides those mentioned above. For instance, the Tamda Rassa (Red Curry) and Pandhra Rassa ( White Curry), a spicy preparation very unique to South Maharashtra. It is often eaten with non vegetarian items like Chicken, fish and others. Then there is the “Thetcha”, a spicy chutney of red chillies, that forms an integral part of the Marathwada cuisine. The Sev Bhaaji and Pav Bhaaji that is available in almost every restaurant across the country. As we see, the Marathi cuisine ranges from extremely spicy delicacies to extremely sweet desserts and dumplings. But with every food item, there is a festival, a sentiment or some traditional culture attached. One must come to Maharashtra and explore the myriad culinary delights that the huge state has to offer.

NEEL KAMAL MISHRA

TYBMM JOURNALISM

SOPHIA COLLEGE FOR WOMEN

HAR DIN KI SHUROO-AAT ‘CHAI’ SE…….

the first drink of evry morning

CHAI

Tea, which is well known as ‘Chai’ is the first important drink preferred by most of the Indians.

A cup of tea and a newspaper is what defines a perfect morning each day in India. This trend of drinking tea can easily be seen on the streets of Mumbai as well. A ‘Chaiwala’ is the first person most of the local train travellers wish to meet every morning. Chaiwala is the one who has the flame on going for the whole year in the process of preparing the plain tea or the ‘Masala Chai’. There are several people in Mumbai itself who are addicted to drinking Tea each hour of the day.

THE CHAIWALA

CHAIWALA

Irrespective of any family background, one can for sure find at least a single person in every person who addicted to drinking ‘Chai’ every now and then. By taking into consideration the famous saying ‘Mehmhan Bhagwan hota hai’- most of the house makers offer their guests with a cup of tea as a symbol of a warm gesture which defines that the opposite person is always welcomed.

In today’s day and age, some prefer drinking ‘Chai’ using a cup and some others prefer pouring it in a plate, relish each sip of their chai and this fulfils the desire of an auspicious and refreshing start of their day.

In India, West Bengal and Assam are the world’s largest tea producers. When one thinks of ‘Chai’- it’s very rare that people around realise that there are several types of tea in the world. They are as follows:

Normal Regular Tea: This tea includes the regular prepared tea with the help of tea leaves, milk, sugar and water which every family can afford easily.

Masala Chai: the real taste of Masala chai can be relished only when one purchases it from a chaiwala in one’s own area. This type of tea spices up the mouth and the Mumbai travellers prefer this most of the time.

GREEN TEA

Green Tea: This type of tea is considered to be a healthy choice with regards to health solution. In today’s generation, the people who are very concerned of keeping themselves fit everyday prefer to have green tea everyday.

BLACK TEA

Black Tea: this type of tea is well known among the villagers in the interior parts of Goa. Whenever I visit Goa every year, i have observed that each household prefer drinking black tea and hardly anyone purchases milk for the purpose of preparing tea. Black Tea is well known as ‘Chau’ ( konkanni tern for tea) in Goa.

White Tea: This type of tea is very rarely heard by common people. It is prepared by dipping the actual tea leaves in water and has a sweet flavour. This type of tea is mostly offered by 5 star hotels and never at a local chai corner. There’s a notion among people that drinking ‘White tea’ brings an ‘Elite’ tag for themselves.

To know what type of tea youngsters consider drinking in today’s age and time, 10 youths were asked regarding their taste with regards to tea. Through analysis, the conclusion that one could draw was that even in this generation, youngsters prefer to have normal regular tea or masala tea and very few who don’t prefer drinking tea.

Bollywood also took this factor of ‘chai’ into consideration and it has brought the dominant nature of tea through the song ‘E k Garam Chai ki Pyaali Ho’ in the movie ‘Har dil jo pyaar karega’ which describes how in this male dominated society, each husband loves his wife to offer his first refreshing beverage- ‘Subah ki Chai’

Considering the important role that ‘Chai’ plays in India, offices have now made vending machines available for their employees which will surely have some variety of tea as one of the options. If not, there will be a special office boy appointed to offer tea to each and every employee.

Well in short, this is how ‘Chai’ dominates the start of each one’s day.

PICTURE CREDIT- google pictures

BY NICOLE FERNANDES

TYBMM

SOPHIA COLLEGE