>International Labour Day or 1st May is celebrated as Maharashtra Day locally. It is the day on which the state of Maharashtra was created. Mumbai being its capital.
Coincidentally I was invited to dinner by a Maharashtrian couple on Sunday, the day after Maharashtra day. I went there not knowing what to expect. Turned out that I got to meet two of the greatest hosts I have come across. And the competition for that accolade is very very stiff.
Consider the facts, they are very disciplined eaters, often eat soup for dinner. Yet the spread on Sunday would have made a banquet table sag. They are vegetarian. Yet they arranged for non vegetarian food for folks like me. I said, rather insincerely, that they shouldn’t have. Was mighty pleased though.
It doesn’t end there. You can just ‘order’ food. Or put a lot of thought into it as had happened here. They ordered Maharashtrian food. Something one, ironically, doesn’t get to eat too often. Within that too went a lot of planning. No Maharashtrian available at their local Kalina? Well they called from Diva Maharashtracha in Dadar. Half way across town. I had never eaten from there before. But the food turned out to be phenomenal. D M has a a menu card on the web and you apparently have to pay one way cab fare for them to deliver.
The wonders of hospitality didn’t end there. No fish as ‘it could get soggy in the heat’. Two different chicken dishes as there were more chicken eaters. And a mutton dish to break the taste. Did I mention that they were vegetarians? I thought of my own cavalier attitude towards vegetarian guests and felt humbled.
The first dish that we tried was the half moon shaped Kolambachee Karanjee. Karanjees are sweetish savouries popular in Maharashtra. The magnificent folks at DM had made these with prawns in a faint cheese sauce. It was one of the most wonderful dishes that I have had in a long time. A gossamer thin crust with very gentle and ethereal prawns inside. Similar to an oyster full of prized pearls. It tasted very fresh. Bear in mind that it must have been cooked at least four hours back and delivered half way across the city. How good was that! We wolfed it down and realised that the rest of dishes would be pretty good too and clicked those on our host’s I Phone.
So there was Kolhapuri Chicken Tambada Rassa. I had recently fallen in love with the white coconut milk and chicken stock based Tambada Rassa at Purepur Kolhapur. The one at DM had a thicker gravy. Equally soothing and maternal with pieces of chicken in it.
Then there was Malvani Chicken Shagoti. “You mean Goan Xacutti, right?”, I asked suspiciously. My host explained that this was a coastal dish claimed by many across the coast. Well they can fight over it. As far as I am concerned it was really tasty. The sauce looked deceptively fiery. It was more a like a complex Hindustaani classical raaga, a symphony of many notes.
Our vegetarian friends had thoughtfully realised the need to not flood us with chicken. So next on offer was Varhadi Mutton. Slightly tangy with a gritty mix of poppy and dry coconut. A dish which trumpeted its pure, rustic tribal origins with élan.
Maharashtrians favour spicy condiments with their food. The Diva Maharashtracha folks had sent these ground masalas and chilly picles. There was a vegetarian dish called Patodi which had soft gram pulse dumplings in a gravy made with something called kala goda masala. This was a concentrated spice mix which finally lived up to the fiery reputation of Maharashtrian food. The sort of gravy which cleanses your soul and bring tears to your eyes. A cathartic experience. A lot like a Tequila shot.
We got treated to more than the Diva Maharashtracha marvels that night. There was a fantastic wheat husk based, cous cous like pulao which our hostess had made for the weight conscious vegetarian in our group. I polished off quite a bit and went for second and thirds. So you can imagine how tasty it was.
See these yummy gulab jamuns below? They were yummier than they look and enjoyed with a malai ice cream. Again a very thoughtful choice as the Indian themed malai ice cream went much better with gulab jamun than synthetic vanilla ice creams. These gulab jamuns were made by our host who when not making gulab jamuns scurries through the Vietcong tunnels of Vietnam with unruffled ease.
So I had two great Maharashtrian food experiences in the last couple of months or so. Can’t wait for our trip to the Konkani restaurant Pangat, courtesy reader and friend, Happy Fork.
And Vandana and Maneesh, at the cost of sounding cheesy, I’ll be back. Thanks for the lovely evening. say hi to Simpu. And Baalu.