Maharashtrian Cuisine - Regular Meals and Staple Dishes

Regular Meals and Staple Dishes

See also: Thali

Maharashtrian meals (mainly lunch and dinner) are served on a plate called thali. Each food item served on the thali has a specific place. The bhaaji is served in the plate on the right hand side while the chutney, koshimbir are served from left going up the periphery of the circular plate. The papad, bhaaji are served below the koshimbir with the rice and poli served at the bottom of the circle closed to the diner's hand. The puran is served at the top in the inner concentric circle. The amti, rassa is served in separate bowls placed on right hand side of the diner. Water is placed on the left hand side. It is considered ill mannered to use left hand while eating.

The staple dishes of Maharashtrian (nagpur)cuisine are based on bread and rice:

  • Ghadichi Poli or chapati - unleavened flat bread made of wheat, more common in urban areas.
  • Bhakri - bread made from millets like jowar and bajra, form part of daily food in rural areas.

The bhaajis are vegetable dishes made with a particular vegetable or a combination of vegetables and requires the use of Goda masala, essentially consisting of some combination of onion, garlic, ginger, red chilli powder, green chillies and mustard. Depending on the caste or specific religious tradition of a family, onion and garlic may not be used in cooking. For example, a number of Hindu communities in Maharashtra and other parts of India refrain from eating onion and garlic during Chaturmas (broadly equates to the rainy monsoon season).

A particular variant of bhaaji is the rassa or curry. Vegetarians prepare rassa or curry of potatoes and or caulifower with tomatoes or fresh coconut kernel and plenty of water to produce a soup like preparation than bhaaji. Varan is nothing but plain dal, a common Indian lentil stew. Aamti is variant of the curry, typically consisting of a lentil (tur) stock, flavored with goda masala, tamarind or amshul, jaggery (gul) and in some cases coconut as well. One of the masalas that gives Maharashtrian cuisine its authentic flavor is the goda (sweet) masala or kalaa (black) masala.

Non-vegetarian dishes mainly use chicken, mutton (mainly goat), fish and other seafood. The Kolhapuri taambda rassa (red curry) and pandhra rassa (white curry) of chicken and mutton from the southern city of Kolhapur and the varhadi rassa or (varhadi chicken curry) from the Vidarbha region are especially well known throughout Maharashtra. The coastal regions of Konkan are more famous for the fish and seafood dishes.

A typical Maharashtrian lunch or dinner usually starts with Poli (chapati), accompanied by one or more bhaaji(s) (cooked vegetables) and a koshimbir(vegetable salad) along with some sides(usually pickles, Chutneys, or papad (Poppadom)). This is usually followed by a second course of varan(lightly or unspiced Daal preparation), aamti (spicy Daal preparation) or rassa with rice. As with most of Indian cuisine however, each region and /or community has its own quirks, preferences and variations of the above general format.

Koshimbir is very common and healthy addition to the plate. Typically made from raw vegetables mixed with yogurt and ground roasted peanuts (Danyache Kut). Raitas made with different types of vegetables such as cucumber or carrots are variants of koshimbir.

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