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The culinary legacy of Maharashtra

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food Masale Baath

Like they say if you wish to know the culture of a state, get into the kitchen of a local, taste the food to know the rich legacy and their way of life. Curated by the expert mother-daughter duo of Sugandha and Varsha, home-chefs of Maharashtrian cuisine, at Sofitel BKC and leaving behind a good deal of recipes passed down through generations and hitherto not included in the menu, for all to savour, is akin to going back in history.

To give an authentic touch, Pondichery Café of Hotel Sofitel BKC brings the grandeur and golden period of Maratha realms not only via food, to their avid patrons but also through traditional lavani performances, an exhibition of Maratha warriors’ weaponry and to boot it a kiosk with exquisite Paithani saris is set up where I found myself heading to even before I checked out the epicurean fare. The elegant restaurant sported a feel of bygone era reminiscent of good food and fine living.

Pandhara Rassyatale Mutton, a preparation of mutton in cashewnut, poppy seed gravy and finished with coconut milk is a popular dish or for those who prefer their gravy dark, it is Tambda Rassyatale Mutton in red chillies, dried coconut and ghati masala. Sukhe Chicken in copra and onion gravy flavoured with Maharashtrian spices offers an interesting jig on the palate. Bhakri – the sturdy and health enriching bread of the warriors forms an essential part of this cuisine and is prepared in Maharashtrian homes even today and their chutneys are big on the menu. Though being food of the warriors which translates as fiery, the sizzle had been toned down to suit guests’ palate.


There are enough vegetarian preparations too, to relish. For instance, Bhajlela Khandyatala Batata (potatoes cooked with cumin and onions), the bland Pithale of besan tempered with jeera-lasun and Bharli Khari Vangi which had green eggplant stuffed with dried coconut and Indian spices give an idea of the vegetarian leanings of our esteemed State.

Mirchi cha Techa is where all chutney lovers will find their choice of Maharashtrian style of Green Chillies & garlic or Shengdanecha pudi, Lal Thikat or Kanda Lahsun chutneys…not to forget Bombil Chutney of dried Bombay duck in red chillies and dried coconut – all immensely hot, promises to set your tongue on fire!

On the rice front, Mutton Sugandhi Bhat consisted of Basmati rice cooked with lamb emitting a spicy aroma. Masale Bhat is equally flavoursome combining French beans, carrots and green bell peppers in Maharashtrian spices and with Dahi Koshimbir (raita) you can be in seventh heaven.

Think of Maharashtrian fare and Amti with Puranpoli cannot be far behind. So on the buffet was Katachi Aamti – yellow dal broth tempered with whole spices. The chana dal and sugar based Puranpolis and juicy coconut, sugar with dry fruits packed Karanji are hugely popular desserts. Mr. Biswajit Chakraborty, General Manager of Sofitel Mumbai BKC says, “Sofitel Mumbai BKC has always been at the forefront in amalgamating different cultures and cuisines of the world. This time with ‘The Great Maratha Warriors’ Food Festival’ we offer recipes that are true to their roots.”

food Masale BaathMasale Bhaath

Ingredients:

2 cups Basmati Rice
1 Sliced Onion
1 cup chopped French beans, carrot and capsicum
1 Chopped Tomato
1 tbsp Ginger Garlic paste
1 tbsp Garam Masala
1 tbsp Red Chilli Powder
¼ tsp Haldi Powder
1 tbsp Oil
A pinch Hing
1 tsp Ghee
½ tsp Mustard seeds
1 Bay Leaf
1 tbsp Fried cashewnuts
Salt to taste

To Grind:
2 tsp Coriander seed
2 tsp Cumin Seed
1 inch Cinnamon
2-3 cloves

Method:

Wash and soak the rice for half an hour. Drain and set aside. Dry roast all the ingredients for the masala and let it cool. Grind to a coarse powder. Heat oil in a pan. Temper with mustard seeds and bay leaf. As it splutters add hing powder and onion. Sauté till the onions turn translucent. Add chopped vegetables and sauté till done. Add tomato and sauté well. Add the ground coarse powder, turmeric powder, gram masala or goda masala, chilli powder, salt and combine well. Introduce drained rice and mix well with the masala. Add ghee at this stage. Remove it from flame. Add 3 cups of water and pressure cook it. When the rice is done, garnish with fried cashews and serve hot.

Karanji

food KaranjiIngredients:

2 cups Maida
1 tbsp Ghee
Warm Milk to knead
Salt  a pinch
Oil for frying

For the filling:

2 cups grated Coconut
2 cups powdered Sugar
6 to 8 Cardamoms
A little Ghee
¼ cup chopped cashewnuts & raisins

Method:
Combine maida, ghee and salt in a large bowl. Add milk and knead into solid dough. Keep aside. Heat little ghee in a pan. Stir in all the filling ingredients. Take small balls of the dough and roll them into small puris. Spoon some of the filling inside and fold to form a half-moon shape. Using some water or maida paste, seal the edges. Heat oil in a deep frying pan over medium flame. Fry the karanjis until light golden brown. Remove and drain excess oil.