When I was invited to “Mejwani Maharashtra Chi”
Maharashtra – The land of the Marathas and Peshwas, deep red soil and vast spread Sahyadri ranges. Apart from also being the land of Bhakarwadi, Kothimbir vadi, Puran poli, and the Wada pavs, the Maharashtrian culture is rich and deep-rooted in its traditions and authentic Maharashtrian dishes which have been passed on since ancestors and are only to be found in homes that have long held to their age-old original recipes.
So the other day I had an urge to try out something authentic, apart from the ghee-laden Puranpolis which defines Maharashtrian food to commoners. And just then I got an invite to savor some authentic Maharashtrian flavors at the upcoming food festival at Radisson, Goregaon.
As I thought about this, I found myself on the way to Radisson…..!
As I stepped out and headed towards their restaurant – “180 degrees”, I could literally feel the strong aromas making their way through my nose and my tummy asking for more………..
A warm welcome by the staff and here I was at the Maharashtrian Food Festival called “Mejwani Maharashtra Chi” presenting the dishes of various regions of Maharashtra (Ghaati, coastal, Vidarbha) and bringing to the foodie’s certain lost recipes of Maharashtra being curated by authentic Maharashtrian chefs. The festival which began on 16th November is on till the 9th of December (only on the weekends) and hopes to bring in a new kind of Maharashtrian treat to all food lovers in the city wanting to explore Maharashtrian food!
As I began with a big bite of the soft and neatly rolled, Swiss roll size, ghee-laden Puranpoli (I am a shameless foodie with a big sweet tooth), and the flavor of the delicious jaggery filled puran melting in my mouth, my eyes lit up at the vast counters spread until the end of the room carrying about 20+ dishes for both vegetarians and non-vegetarian food lovers.
Barely finishing up the Puranpoli, a glass filled with milk made its way to me. Within seconds of analyzing what could this be, a wide-smiling waiter uttered – “That’s your welcome drink, Dhaane Jeere Kashay, please enjoy!” A wonderful fragrance filled my nostrils and as I had the first sip, I found myself going gaga over this extremely refreshing and superbly delicious flavored milk which instantly made its way to my heart and my forever thirsty soul. Since I had never witnessed a milky welcome drink anywhere at any food festival, I was curious to know how this was made. He explained that it was made with coriander seeds, cumin seeds, sugar, and saffron and is a great tonic to banish all the excess heat within the body.
Well, this tonic will soon make its way as the summer drink available in my refrigerator throughout the scorching summer months. With these thoughts, I found myself hitting the live counters on one side that were dishing up some lovely vegetarian and non-vegetarian snacks. I picked in Kothimbir Vadi and Aluchi Vadi. A first bite of the kothimbir vadi and I thanked the stars for letting me eat a vadi which didn’t carry any excess salt in it, it was perfect in flavors, though I thought it was fried for a few seconds extra, minus which it could have been without a tinge of that burnt taste. The Aluchi Vadi was really crisp and mild in flavors, no excess salt or chilies or sesame seeds. There was a balance of flavors and even though deep fried, it appeared to be light in the mouth. It was almost weightless.
A few minutes with this, I grabbed the plate and began on the journey of feeding my hungry stomach. The Sadhya bhaat (plain rice), Adan vadya (Vegetable made of besan, green chilies, garlic, coriander, peanuts, salt, turmeric, oil), Mugache medga (Dal made of green moong, green chilies, garlic, curry leaves, tomatoes, onion, salt, turmeric, oil), Gola bhaji (vegetable made of besan, carom seeds, green chilies, turmeric, salt, oil), Phodniche varan ( Toor dal, curry leaves, tomatoes, garlic, mustard and cumin seeds, asafetida, coriander, salt, turmeric, oil) and Chapati made its way to my plate.
The Adan vadya and Khari vangi was something I have never had or heard about. The Phodniche varan tasted similar to the dal that we enjoy daily at home though, I just wished it had been a little strong in flavors. overall The flavors were distinct, it was difficult to describe whether the dishes were delicious or the best I have ever had, but they were unique and that was the whole point. As I had bite after bite after bite, I realized these had made their way from the books of the lost recipes, and so they are bound to be unique in flavors by staying true to the way they were made hundreds of years ago. Maharashtrian food is not really spicy, something I had to tell myself while digging in every spoon, since being a North Indian I am used to enjoying food which is a hearty mix of chilies and spices and extremely chatpata.
The place was full by then, everyone relishing this unique festival on the lost recipes of the Western Ghats of Maharashtra. How could I leave this place without my last plate of the absolutely irresistible dessert spread? it was indeed a pleasurable sight with a myriad of colors and cute little sugary things waiting to fill up a place in my tummy. A part of the festival was – Puranpoli, olya narlachya karanjya, Gulab Jamun, sheera puri roll, lapshee and chonge. The olya narlachya karanjya I must say are a definite mention here. Not overly sweet and immediately melting in the mouth within the first bite, they were light in texture and lovely bite-sized sweet treats. The sheera puri roll was not disappointing either. The sheera puri roll and lapshee were extremely well-made and superb in taste, I loved the fact that nothing was overly sweet. Apart from this, there was also milk cake, mini chocolate and vanilla cakes, mini shahi tukda and kulfi on the dessert counter. I must say the Milk cake is the best I have ever had, perfect in texture, no excess sugar, light in feel and really fresh. After having a few spoonfuls of each of them, I found myself on the way to paradise, literally. 🙂
Oh yeah, not to mention, the baked yogurt was lip smacking. My sister had it and she simply couldn’t have enough of it.
It was one of the best evenings after a long time. what else do you need as a big foodie? Some good food and desserts along with great ambiance and hospitality are the way to a happy tummy, hop onto Radisson for your great fill! The menu changes every weekend (a different region) there are more than 100+ dishes that the entire festival is comprised of……Get, set, go……buddies!
*Don’t forget to try out “Popati”, a delicacy prepared mainly in the Raigad district of Konkan region. It’s a hidden gem and the key ingredient is a roadside neglected leafy plant which gives a mesmerizing aroma to the dish. The festival is incomplete without this delicacy.