My heart skipped a beat when I received an invite to be a part of the bloggers table to explore the culinary traditions of Maharashtra specially curated by celebrity chef and food connoisseur Aditya Mehendale (Author of the book- Rare Gems- A Non-Vegetarian Gourmet Collection from Maharashtra). I looked forward to an evening full of gastronomic food. And when I stumbled upon the fact that I was going to be served an authentic Kolhapuri thali, your stomach growls with unsatiated hunger. This scrumptious opportunity is brought to Puneites by Courtyard by Marriott, Hingewadi, Pune in association with Maharashtra Tourism and Development Corporation (MTDC) to promote indigenous Maharashtrian food. This 10 days Maharashtrian food festival is scheduled to run from April 11th April – 21st April 2016. A vibrant ambience greets you, with women in nauvari sarees and men dressed in traditional maharashtrian attire. The Momo Cafe is decked up with local kitchen tools and spices.
I had never experienced Kolhapuri food in its entirety, all I had earlier was some Kolhapuri mutton while driving through Kolhapur, well that was my idea of the Kolhapuri cuisine… well at least till now. So here is my run down of the delectable spread at the Maharashtrian Food Festival at MoMo Cafe at Courtyard by Marriott. And the meat lover in me again chose the non vegetarian thali to gorge on.
Mr. Abhijit Chitnis, GM of the Marriot Hotel, Hinjewadi got the show on the road with a brief understanding of the festival and Chef Aditya Mehendale had his hands full with inquisition. To start off the culinary journey, I was greeted by traditional coastal (Konkan) Maharashtrian drink, Sol Kadhi which was extremely refreshing with a light coconut base and a hint of kokum.
The Non vegetarian Kolhapuri thali consisted of:
Sarga tawa fry: This was pan fried fish with minimal oil but with a crunchy crust and it tasted delicious. One could experience perfect marination of the fish in a bit of turmeric, red chilli powder, lemon juice, salt and some garlic; with a coating chickpea flour (with some fine semolina added to it) and then frying it on a pan/griddle. Tender and juicy the preparation tickled my tastebuds.
Navsacha kombda: As per Aditya, this is a koli recipe and this chicken preparation is prepared in Koli marriages and this chicken preparation requires the very authentic Koli Masala, a regional spice blend. The influence of coconut in the food is very natural and therefore roasted coconut paste is used in this recipe. This delightful and flavourful curry completely floored me.
Sahalache mase: This dish was the perfect amalgamation of fish, prawns and squid simmered in the silkiness of coconut milk making it distinct. Chef Aditya also added that the dish gets its unique blend of flavour, taste and texture because of tender coconut, tender coconut water and coconut. A stark contrast to the previous dish on the menu this became a quick favourite
Bharli wangi: The was another preparation that I fell in love with, a unique combination of stuffed eggplants with dried shrimps and cooked to perfection.
Wal Piwli Sal: A simple, melt in the mouth dal preparation
Kombadicha Pandhra rassa: A delightful spicy mouth watering recipe of Pandhra Rassa which is a speciality of Kolhapur. Pandhra Rassa is a white colored chicken gravy with lots of spices. this raise went mazingly well with the bhakri, a millet flatbread
Kombadicha Tamda rassa: Another famous dish from Kolhapur, tambda means red and rassa stands for gravy. This bold & spicy, vibrant & robust, highly aromatic, rich & flavourful gravy for me was the showstopper of the evening.
Ratalyachi kheer: A sweet potato pudding, simple yet divine kheer with the goodness of ghee and milk. This tasted divine
Kharwas: This spectacular dish is made from the first milk from cows and buffaloes after they give birth. It is a steamed pudding and its silky texture and melt in the mouth appeal made me go all yum.
So, if you are looking to explore authentic Maharashtrian cuisine, now is your chance!!!
Grab the local food experience at the lavish lunch buffet, priced at Rs. 749 plus taxes and the dinner thalis, priced at 999 plus taxes. Each day is going to be a food celebration from a different region of Maharashtra.