Everybody knows about the unbeatable taste of the Mumbai’s chaats! But there is so much more to explore and savour in the other regions of Maharashtra.
Konkan: The traditional crops of the Konkan region, the west coast of Maharashtra, are coconuts, mangoes, cashewnuts, rice and a variety of pulses. The region also grows a great quantity of kokum, a sweet-sour fruit. Fish is available in vast varieties and seafood is in abundant supply. All these ingredients find place in the traditional and exotic Konkani food.
South Maharashtra: This region is rich in sugarcane fields, rice farms and milk. In the winter months, southern Maharashtra is busy in the production of jaggery and sugar from the abundant sugarcane juice. Winter also means plenty of milk, and typical milk sweets like basundi, masala milk, srikhand and kheer. Milk, nuts, rough bhakris of jowar, hot meat curries and chilli-spiked snacks are favourite foods here.
Vidarbha: Though the Konkan strip and southern Maharashtra have their own excellent cuisine, the cuisine of northern Maharashtra, Vidarbha and Khandesh, too has a lot to offer. The central Indian plateau is not as lush as the coast; therefore, coconuts and mangoes do not grow here. But Vidarbha is rich in peanuts, rice and, most of all, citrus fruit, like oranges and sweet limes. The ingredients commonly used are besan, or gram flour, and ground peanuts.
Pune: Home to the Peshwas and Brahmin communities, Pune is a historic city. The food of these communities is delicate, sparsely designed and entirely vegetarian. Puneri missal, thalipeeth, puri bhaji and dalimbi ussal are not only tasty and nutritious, but inexpensive to make.
Kolhapur: Kolhapur is as famous for its spicy mutton curries as its Mahalaxmi temple or palaces. Popularly called matnacha rassa, this pungent dish is not for the weak hearted! Kolhapuri missal is also one of their spicier dishes.
Aurangabad: The cuisine of Aurangabad has been highly influenced by the North Indian method of cooking, as a result of the long Moghul rule in the region. Aurangabad’s food is much like Moghlai or Hyderabadi food, with its fragrant pulaos and biryanis. Meat cooked in fresh spices and herbs is a speciality, as are the delectable sweets.
Nagpur: The city of Nagpur has great historical inheritance and is emerging now as a gourmet city. There are unusual snacks, curries, pulaos and sweets to pamper the demanding palate. The food is generally spicy, with a good amount of ghee, and peanuts, dried coconut (khopra) and dal are often the basis of the flavours. Nagpur is also famous for its spicy non-vegetarian preparations known as saoji preparations that are generally made by using clove-pepper paste instead of red chilli powder.