What doesn’t cease to amaze me is how we have multiple region based cuisines all over India. Invariably, one cuisine seeps through harmlessly to its neighbours territory not just influencing them and getting influenced.
Tanjavur, the district in Tamil Nadu that I hail from is highly influenced by the Marathan cuisine. Sambar varieties, bajjis and upmas that we probably thought as native cuisine are borrowed glories. According to the sangam literature what surely belonged to dravidian cuisine were things like idiappams and dosais made of various millets and rice. Even Idli fermenting technique was something we borrowed from Indonasians.
Visiting Bombay for the first time, my mind was set to taste all the flavours the region has to offer. I believe local flavoura are always best tasted in small shops and roadside vnedors rather than fine-dining restaurants. So, I did walk the length and breadth of Bombay and speak to a lot of people before I went on food walks. Thanks to Zomato, things were relatively simpler to figure out.
Available all day long on menus are Vadapavs, batata vadas at roadside thelevala vendors next to train stations are almost always fresh and tasty in your tummies and super light on your pockets.
Missal pav is a typical protien filled roadside breakfast where Missal is the gravy made of many kinds of pulses, big and small, flavoured with goda masala, which is a speciality of this region. Goda is a ten spice blend, the variation of which is something called a kala masala, addition being sundried fried onions.
Kandha lehsun masala is the other spice mix with onions and garlic mostly used in dry preparations.
kandha poha is a delicacy made of fried onions and beaten rice flavored with chillies, lemon and tumeric. Thalipeeth is another mid-maharashtran speciality. These are thick pancakes made from various millets, flavoured with herbs and fried onions. These are served with coriander chutney and white butter. Yumm!
Sabudana vada and sabudana khichdi are two preperations made from tapioca balls flavoured with roasted peanuts, green chillies and seasoned with cumin and ghee. They are mainly breakfast dishes and so are quite heavy on the tummy. Being free of onions and garlic, which usually marathis dont cook without, these are mostly fasting food.
Piyush is a local drink made of yogurt sweetened with sugar and flavoured with saffron and cardamom, its heavy alright but its something you shouldn’t miss! The other local drink is the kokum sharbat. Kokum is a fruit like tamarind that grows all along the west of India, largely used as an ingredient to add acidity and tangyness to a dish. The sharbat is a nice drink to start your meal with or even refresh yourself after a long, hot day. The syrup makes an exotic addent to your fridge too.
There is still so much more to explore here in Bombay. My next account is quite detailed as I am about to explore the famous bombayya chaat in a place called Elco market bang in the middle of Bandra.