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

possibly but if so very little. It was a great resource though in that time frame. You probably saw me on Chowhound instead if you ever hung out there

I’m not too familiar with most of the dishes you mentioned, but interestingly, a Canadianized English pub close to my apartment replaced its veggie burger with vada pav in 2021. I tried it, not knowing anything about it, and enjoyed it.

I’ve enjoyed bhel puri, but haven’t made them at home.

I did buy a bag of Kalpasi, which I really want to use! She notes in her recipe for Malwani Chicken Masala that this is a place where it would be put to use, although no specifics for where or how much (fry it in oil and remove? Grind it with the masala spice mix?). I am going to put this on my list for the near future, although likely after this COTM is over.


Kalpasi / stone flower / dagad phool is used in biryani masala, especially in Peninsular/Southern India. Here is one recipe.

This biryani masala is a useful thing to have around. ETA: The above recipe tells you how much and how to use the kalpasi (toast and grind with the other spices).

And here is a recipe for Maharashtrian chicken biryani that uses biryani masala

Says this biryani is a specialty of Maharashtra Muslims.

Someone with more knowledge of Maharashtrian cuisines can say more.


Here’s a starter:

I’ve been there, done that, and the results were good.

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No, her stuff isn’t Maharashtrian. But she has a lot of Maharashtrian stuff on there, being from Bombay.

We often joke about this when giant crab or fish go by for examination.

But these places wouldn’t survive (and thrive) if they passed off something too often to local customers, who tend to be quite loyal.

My favourite South Asian restaurant, Bombay to Mumbai ( specialises in Mumbai street food. I find it a lovely light alternative to the bog standard Anglicised “Indian” restaurants in the UK. They used to have a number of excellent Malvani dishes on the menu but they have disappeared in a recent menu refresh.

We did prepare bhel puri for dinner the other night but, contrary to the ethos of this thread, we used a kit from the Asian supermarket which had all the ingredients including sachets of three different chutneys. Just needed mixing together.


I found this:


I may make the fish tomorrow, although that one doesn’t call for the kalpasi.

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TD’s Malvani masala has a more extensive ingredient list than MG’s, but as long as a couple of key items are included (like Dagad phool) it’s likely to taste in the right zip code.

Another interesting spice mix unique to the region is Goda masala, used pretty extensively in all kinds of things, but especially some iconic bean dishes like Usal and Misal (well-known enough that Trader Joe’s had a frozen version for a while). You can buy it ready at an Indian store these days, or probably even on Amazon.

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I linked to this recipe from Archana’s Kitchen yesterday. It didn’t disappoint! The most time consuming portion of the recipe was toasting and grinding the spices and chiles. I used Kashmiri chiles for the masala mixture. Looking at some of the other Malvani masala recipes posted, I took this opportunity to also add about a tablespoon of kalpasi and a teaspoon of tirphal (Sichuan peppercorns).

After marinating the fish (meaty trout fillets), I prepped the curry base - ginger, garlic, and tomatoes. These get cooked in mustard oil in which you’ve toasted mustard seeds and curry leaves. Add some turmeric and salt. Once the tomatoes are broken down, add the entirety of the ground masala. Then tamarind water, followed by coconut milk. Let that simmer for a little and then add the fish. Cover and cook until the fish is done, about 10 minutes. When I checked the seasonings at the end, I found I needed to add a few pinches of sugar and just a touch more salt to help balance everything.

This was quite delicious! I must admit that I am not entirely sure what the kalpasi brought to the party after all that. The flavors were very fennel forward from the, well, fennel, as well as star anise. I really liked the use of tamarind for sourness in this. I feel like if I make this again I would be inclined to make the whole sauce the day or so before so it could meld in the fridge before I cooked the fish in it. We had this with a cucumber and radish salad, along with rice.


Lots of Maharashtrian snack favorites made up dinner tonight: Mom and I went to the opening of an annual multi-day classical music festival, and the snacks at the venue are famous :joy:


Gram flour and cilantro fritters, first steamed, then fried.

Very similar to panisse / panelle, but more seasoned and with an herbaceous twist. So delicious.

(I made a homestyle version of these during a recent COTM, but they weren’t a patch on the street food version (which I tried my hand at during the pandemic, and were surprisingly close to the real deal).



The most ubiquitous street food of the region, and now internationally known.

Spiced potato balls dipped in a spiced gram flour batter and deep fried good hot, good cold, good squashed into a roll (ie Pav/Pao, at which point it becomes Vada Pao, the food of train stations, walking around, and desperately hungry moments).

This was a really good rendition.

Real vada / vada pao comes with one chutney — a dry red chilli - garlic concoction that may set your mouth on fire, but is so complementary you don’t want to skip it. (Green chutney shows up sometimes but is just wrong, and anyone who puts sweet / tamarind chutney on vada pao should have it confiscated on the spot).



This is borderline Maharashtrian. Samosas aren’t from here. But patti samosas are, because they employ a pastry cover brought here by Irani immigrants — thin sheets like spring roll wrappers, cut into strips (patti) that are used for the outer shell.

I love these samosas. They were the only hot snack sold at my school cafeteria, and that was such a fantastic version that parents would call to reserve them :joy: Hard to find these days stuffed with potatoes, because they’re usually onion samosas or meat (kheema). To my great pleasure, these were potato, just as I remembered from decades ago.



This was lunch yesterday. A very different version than I’m used to, which was interesting.

The masala had a rougher, more textured grind — I could feel tiny coconut pieces when I ate it, vs the more ground (but still textured) version I usually eat. This was also less toasted / caramelized.

Very good, with rice of course, but also with a roomali (handkerchief-thin) roti.



On the food blog front, Archana’s Kitchen has the following recipes tagged as Maharashtrian:


Last night’s dinner was super simple everyday Maharashtrian food. The basic formula is found all over India: dal, rice, sabzi, with yogurt and pickle to round off.
The most basic ingredients in what might seem a spartan meal, but elevated by technique into something craveable any time. No deprivation here.

Varan (the quintessential simple Maharashtrian toor dal, spiced only with salt, turmeric, and cumin sizzled in ghee); bhaat (leftover tomato rice needed to use up); methi bhaji - so delicious because the spices (cumin, mustard seed, hing, onion, garlic, green chilli, red chilli powder, lime juice), peanuts, and besan slurry transformed the frozen fenugreek leaves into something ultra delicious. Yogurt and lime pickle to round off.

ETA: after taking the picture, I mixed the rice and dal.


Varan recipes range from ultra simple (cooked and mashed toor dal, add salt and turmeric, tadka of cumin seeds in ghee) to more fancy (add tomatoes, green chillies, curry leaves). Simple is great.
Here is the recipe I used for the methi bhaji:

I forgot to add the coriander at the end. I just added the garlic in the beginning instead of at the end, because I didn’t have coconut to do the last step.
It was delicious anyway. Healthy and delicious.
ETA: I think you can use this recipe with any greens: spinach, collards, whatever. Finely chop them, and vary the cooking time appropriately.


Sounds tasty!

My understanding is that Patal bhaji is like Saag – it does refer to a specific leafy green (Colocasia / Taro leaves, the same stuff Patra / Aluvadi are made from), but can be adapted to any available greens.

(I also love Tandalja chi bhaji / Tambdi bhaji, made with red amaranth, if you have access to it. It’s good made with spinach too.)

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Oh, I was thinking of growing this. Not gonna be ready by March, though!

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This is such a standard household fixture that I forgot it on that long list :rofl:

Chivda is a quintessentially Maharashtrian snack mix. Other regions have their own versions of snack mix (bhoosa, “mixture”, and so on), but chivda is a celebrity in its own right (heard of Bombay snack mix? = Chivda).

It’s an any-time snack, but shines with afternoon tea. Crunchy, salty, sweet, sometimes spicy, sometimes tangy.

There are many, many varieties, and towns in the state are famous for specific types (people take special requests and carry back enough to distribute among friends and family if they’re traveling somewhere chivda-famous like Nashik, with its Onion Chivda). There’s a type for everyone. Trader Joe’s even makes one that isn’t anything like anything you’d find in India, and yet it’s definitely Chivda with all its signature characteristics (even though they call it Chakri Mix).

But the most basic, and arguably the most delicious, is Poha Chivda, made with beaten rice / rice flakes. Even within this, there are myriad versions, though a key bifurcation is whether the poha is roasted (which gives it a sharp but soft crunch) or deep fried (which makes it puffy and light-textured).

My mom made the simple, roasted version at home this week because it was apparently my favorite kind when I was little.

So: poha, “roasted” plain in the microwave, then seasoned with spiced oil (turmeric, chilli, curry leaves, asafoetida, cumin, mustard), peanuts, bengal gram (chickpea’s little flavor-packed sibling), and chopped cashews. All mixed together carefully until the seasonings are evenly distributed, and adjusted to taste with salt and sugar. Still to be added: dried coconut slivers (my favorite part - I used to pick them out surreptitiously, leading to eaters after me thinking the coconut had inadvertently been forgotten :rofl:)

In the US, Indian immigrants in the 60s and 70s adapted this recipe to use any easily available cereal instead of traditional ingredients like rice flakes which weren’t as easily accessible back then. Cereal chivda is different, but also delicious because hits all the familiar notes.



Checking off greatest hits before I leave Maharashtra, apparently :smile:

Sabudana = tapioca pearls, a local favorite in (mostly) savory snack applications. (They are also an allowed “fasting food” for Hindu religious purposes, so appear in many interesting formats as a result.)

These fried patties (or balls) are composed of fluffed sabudana (soaked and drained till they absorb sufficient water), boiled potatoes, peanuts, and scant spices (cumin seeds, curry leaves, green chillies), seasoned with salt, sugar, and lemon juice. We pan-fried them, though they are often deep fried


BATATAWADA / VADA – homemade this time

Like I said, greatest hits.

This is iconic Mumbai / Maharashtra street food. There are tiny stops along highway routes that are so famous for their Batatawadas that they are automatic stops when folks are driving out of town on holiday (Khopoli I’m looking at you).

I described the street food version above, but we also make a few different versions at home:

  • my grandmother’s: seasoned with dry spices, green chilli, and fresh ginger. Very thin coating of gram flour, just enough to hold the potato together.
  • my great-aunt’s (my favorite, and a signature dish in the extended family; my mom procured the recipe for me): heavy on aromatics, plus a few dry spices, slightly thicker coating than my grandma’s but I prefer the thinner version
  • adapted street version (my dad’s favorite): heavier on everything, tempering inside, thicker coating

These Vadas were made specially for my dad, who loves them more than anyone but can no longer eat his beloved street version as they’re way too spicy for him now. And we’ve been eating them left, right, and center, while the poor guy watches. So I asked mom to make them at home for him without chillies. Mom likes using her appe / paniyaram pan sometimes instead of deep frying.

Really tasty even without chillies, and dad was so happy!