MAHARASHTRIAN - Winter 2023 (Jan-Mar) Cuisine of the Quarter

Wonder what the security people thought or said about that? :grinning:

Within India a few years ago, I carried in my hand bag a packet of homemade South Indian masala podi as a gift for my friend. The Hindi-speaking security lady asked what was in it, and I said ‘chutney powder’ with a deadpan face, trying not even to think of the name ‘gunpowder’. :sweat_smile: . She asked me if it was chilli powder, and I just said no, though that is an ingredient of course, and she let me through. Previously, I hadn’t realized that carrying masala podi would be an issue.


Absolutely nothing – carrying food for any travel is so commonplace (and flight food has gotten ever worse, so also advisable).

Now what the security people think when I carry a bakers’ dozen of bagels, baguettes and other NYC favorites to the west coast as 75% of my carry-on, that’s a better question. (I keep wondering when the bagel lobby will make cream cheese allowable through security, because it still gets confiscated, and the cream cheese elsewhere is a travesty to put on a New York bagel.)

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DHIRDA (aka Pooda)

I was reading through one of my Marathi cookbooks for ideas, and while it’s not surprising that there is overlap with Gujarati food (they used to be a single state), the extent is still surprising to me.

So, today I learned that the simple, anytime crepe I know as Pooda is known as Dhirda (pl. Dhirdi) in Marathi.

It’s made from a simple flour-and-water batter with powdered spices (turmeric, cumin, coriander, red chilli, salt, sugar) and optional aromatics (which I skipped today). The flour can vary from wheat to lentil to assorted millets to a mixture; I used mainly wheat today.

Simple and quick, this was a nice breakfast with a cup of ginger tea (Alyachi Chaha).


Just noticed it’s on kindle sale for $1.99 if anyone is looking for a reference:

As is the other general one I referenced earlier with a Maharashtrian author, for $5.99:


Some chefs / cooks on social media are calling these as ‘liquid batter parathas’ or ‘no knead parathas’ and when made with wheat flour, they puff up almost like a phulka on a hot pan.

Yours came out lacy like a pudla/cheela/adai typically is.


Saoji Egg Curry was brunch today. I learned from the recipe introduction that this style of cuisine is intended to by fiery and use Bhiwapuri chiles (100,000-300,000 Scoville units). This is not a chile I can get in my area and does not seem to be available on Amazon. The author of the recipe has made this somewhat less spicy, using a mix of Kashmiri and Guntar chiles. My sanaam chiles from Penzey’s are listed as 40,000 Scoville units on the bag. I decided to make up the difference of the heat by adding a fresh habanero to the ginger-garlic paste when I made it.

I made the masala powder for the recipe yesterday in anticipation of brunch today. You roast the chiles, along with dried coconut, poppy seeds, cumin seeds, fennel seeds, coriander seeds, ajwain (I subbed caraway and a little thyme), green cardamom pods, a cinnamon stick, cloves, mace, and a new to me spice, kapok bud. It is peppery and a little mustard seed like in flavor. Then everything is ground together.

Cook some onion in oil and then add the ginger-garlic (and habanero) paste. Add tomatoes (I used a mix of canned and fresh to accommodate what was in my pantry/fridge), turmeric, the masala powder, water, and salt to taste. Let simmer until it thickens (about 10 minutes). Then add hard boiled eggs and simmer another 4 minutes. I decided to poach eggs in the sauce instead, since we like runny yolks.
Garnish with cilantro.

I served this with the suggested Burani Raita and some pita bread that needed to be used up. With the habanero, it definitely reached “fiery”, at least to us. The garlicky yogurt was a nice foil to the heat. This was a welcome meal on a chilly late morning!


Can you share a recipe for the tomato sheer?

Try this one:
Quite similar to what my aunt shared with me so must be a good variation.

Per Aunty’s recipe, I used mustard seeds, not fenugreek.
Added sliced hot green chillies (which do get tamed by the coconut milk) after popping the spices.
Also added a little red chilli powder and turmeric along with the coconut milk.
Aunty strongly recommended homemade coconut milk, with the besan added to the ‘second press’ or thin coconut milk.
But try it with store bought coconut milk and add the besan to a little water t make the slurry.
Garnish with cilantro.

Take care when simmering not to boil strongly or the besan will become lumpy. Also, must make sure that the besan slurry is well mixed, and keep stirring when adding it and when cooking, to avoid lumps. Rest the dish awhile after cooking, while you finish other things.

Sheer is overall a pleasant and mild dish, so it’s a good counterpoint to other stronger flavours.

Serve warm with chapatis or rice, potato or greens sabzi, some kind of dal, and chopped salad or raita, e.g. koshimbir with or without yogurt.


Wandering the internet for more unusual-to-me Maharashtrian cuisine, I came across this blog that focuses on the cuisine of the Pathare Prabhu community (one of the historic communities of Mumbai), and here is an example of a very unique dish rice, banana, and prawn ‘cake’:

It mentions a >100 year Maharashtrian cookbook called Gruhini Mitra (Housewife’s Friend)


If you happen to live in the NY/NJ area, we just visited a very good Maharashtrian in Edison.

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Dipping a toe back into the Cuisine of the Quarter. Yesterday, I made this masala recipe. There are, indeed, about 19 items in the list. I ended up with a couple more on top of that, as I subbed a mix of caraway and thyme for the ajwain and used a mixture of kashmiri, sanaam, and piquin chiles for the Sankeshwari and Byadagi chiles. Toasting and grinding everything made the kitchen smell delightful! I ended up with about a cup of masala powder, which is more than enough for our two person household.

So, this got used today in:

This was my first time working with black chickpeas (Rancho Gordo!). I had soaked and cooked them yesterday and stored them in the fridge in their cooking liquid. Today I made the masala paste (onion, coconut (I used a judicious fistful of unsweetened flakes), chiles, new to me ingredient kokum, the koli masala powder, and other dry spices). Then I proceeded with the recipe, using some of the cooking liquid in place of the water called for. Rather than just letting it go for 5 minutes on the stovetop, once I brought it to a boil, I covered it and put it in a 300F oven, topping it off from time to time with a little more of the cooking liquid, for about an hour. We had the resulting stew for lunch today. It was very welcome after shoveling cars out! I would absolutely make this again. Now I need to find other recipes where I can use this ground masala.


Fascinating recipe. I happen to have a later edition of Gruhini Mitra:

Loosely translating, the title on the cover says “Housewives Friend”, and on the title page it adds “or a thousand preparations”.

Further information:


Folks, voting for the March COTM is happening now. It has been extended until Sunday evening. Please check out the nominees and vote if you are inclined to cook along with us.

Talking to myself, Gruhini Mitra is a fascinating book on multiple levels. Here (from the title page) are the author’s credentials:

Having trouble with it? Where’s your Marathi when you friggin’ need it?
What you see is a transliteration of

Embroidery Medalist and Certificate Holder
of First National Congress Exhibition;
Highly recommended Silk Photographist
of Indore Exhibition, etc.

[Marathi (like other Indian languages) has no capitals, so the capitalization above is mine.]

ETA: I know many of you here have been clamoring for Marathi. Match my words to the originals above and you’ll know how to write (literally, not in translation) “and”, “of”, and most importantly “embroidery”.


I noticed exactly the same thing, but didn’t comment on it. I was wondering how being a great silk photographer and embroidery medalist etc. was a qualification to write a cookbook, but I guess all women in that era in default learned how to cook, unlike embroidery or photography, so no one would really seek a credential for that?

Since Marathi is written in the same Devanagari script as Hindi I could read it, despite not knowing the language.
The use of English transliterated to Hindi script was remarkable rather than just saying the same thing in Marathi or Hindi languages. I wonder if this was a way of signaling a higher status - that the writer and reader and author know what these English words meant?

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That’s an interesting thought. what would Marathi readers have made of words such as “Aund” and “Oph” (the closest I can come to how “and” and “of” were expressed) let alone all the other more complex words.

Mine is the 14th edition from 1962 (inherited from my mother). I wonder whether the first edition had a similar title page.

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Before I devolve further into cookbooks, MAHARASHTRIAN (adopting the excited capitalization of the title) food is to me just food.

I have it often these days, and for the first twenty years of my life I had it at least seven thousand times.

Just today, one of us at home needed soft, non-spicy food. So:

1:1 ratio of basmati rice and masoor dal, soaked, rinsed and drained multiple times, then added to a pot where 2 cardamom pods, 1 clove, and fragments of cinnamon were sizzling in ghee. Added 5 parts water, a generous pinch of turmeric, salted it all, brought to a boil, covered, lowered heat to the lowest my stove allowed on its smallest burner, then simmered for 30 minutes.

Along with it mock kadhi: Sizzled mustard seeds then curry leaves, turned off the heat then stirred in full fat yoghurt.

That was comfort food,.

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Friday night comfort food.

Varan ( simple Maharashtrian toor dal). This version with tomatoes is one step up from the basic one.
Cauliflower, carrot, potato bhaji made like this cabbage recipe.
Plain bhat (rice) and South Indian yogurt rice.

Varan-bhat and yogurt rice are just warm hugs in a bowl.


A fraction of my cooking for many years has been mock-Maharashtrian: dishes inspired by those of my youth but freely altered and adapted to use what I have on hand, how much time I have, etc. In that spirit I made last night an adaptation of the Maharashtrian patal bhaji (“thin vegetable”), normally made with leafy greens, a combination of dals, coconut, peanuts, besan (chickpea flour), a bit of tamarind for sourness, and bit of jaggery for sweetness. There are easily found recipes on the Internet for standard versions.

I had no greens on hand, except a small amount on top of a radish bunch. I simmered those, along with a small head of broccoli (cut into pieces), a quarter cup each of toor dal and chana dal, a half cup of dried, unsweetened coconut flakes, three dried red chillies, a pinch of asafoetida, a big sprinkling of turmeric and some salt. Simmered for an hour, then blended with my immersion blender. Added a handful of raw peanuts and simmered for another 20 minutes. Not having tamarind on hand, but desiring some sourness, I mixed in a cup of yogurt at the end. Tempered with mustard seeds and cumin, and garnished with cilantro.


The very last word in my transliteration above is actually a translation. The word used
Screen Shot 2023-02-26 at 2.28.05 PM
is a translation of “etc.”, and is the only Marathi word there. Makes the whole business even more odd.

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