Maharashtrian cuisine

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Maharashtrian (or Marathi) cuisine is the cuisine of the Marathi people from the state of Maharashtra in India. Maharashtrian cuisine covers a range from having mild to very spicy dishes. Wheat, rice, jowar, bajri, vegetables, lentils and fruit form staples of the Maharashtrian diet. Peanuts and cashews are often served with vegetables. Traditionally, Maharashtrians have considered their food to be more austere than that of other regions in India. Although, because of economic conditions and culture, meat has traditionally been used quite sparsely or only by the well off until recently. Maharashtra's metropolitan cities, such as Mumbai and Pune have influenced the food habits due to urban population. For example, the Udupi dishes idli and dosa are quite popular, as well as Chinese dishes. Nevertheless, distinctly Maharashtrian dishes, such as ukdiche modak and aluchi bhaji remain popular.

Regular meals and staple dishes[edit]

See also: Thali
Common vegetables used in Maharashtra as seen on a Market Cart in Pune

The staple dishes of Maharashtrian cuisine are based on flat bread and rice. The flat breads can be wheat-based, such as the traditional trigonal Ghadichi Poli[1] or the round chapati more common in urban areas. Bhakri is a bread made from millet, including jowar and bajra, and forms part of daily meals in rural areas.[2] As many areas of Maharashtra are drought prone, the staple food of the rural poor has traditionally been as simple as Bajri Bhakri accompanied by just a raw onion, a dry chutney, or a Gram flour preparation called Zunka or Pithale. This meal has, however, become more fashionable among the urban classes too.

Bhaaji is a class of dishes consisting of vegetables. Some are made with a particular vegetable or a combination of vegetables and requires the use of Goda masala, essentially consisting of some combination of onion, garlic, ginger, red chilli powder, green chillies and mustard. Souring agents include tomatoes, tamarind or Aamsul, added to give additional flavor to the dish. Depending on the caste or specific religious tradition of a family, onions and garlic are excluded in cooking. For example, a number of Hindu communities in Maharashtra and other parts of India refrain from eating onions and garlic during Chaturmas (broadly equates to the rainy monsoon season). Until recently, canned or frozen food was not widely available in Maharashtra and the rest of India. Therefore, vegetables used in a meal depended on the seasonal availability. For example, Spring (March-May) brings harvest of cabbage, onions, potatoes, Guar Tondali, Shevgyachya shenga, Dudhi, Marrow, and Padwal. The Rainy Monsoon Season brings green leafy vegetables, such as Aloo. Gourds like Karle, Dodka and eggplant also become widely available in this season. Chili peppers, carrots, tomatoes, cauliflower, French beans, peas, etc. become available in the cooler climate of October to February.[3]

Meat preparations[edit]


In Maharashtrian cuisine, soups are consumed along with the main course. Some popular soups include:

Pickles and condiments[edit]

Sweets and desserts[edit]

Two types of Tilgul, a Maharashtrian sweet snack.
  • Puran Poli: It is one of the most popular sweet items in the Maharashtrian cuisine. It is made from jaggery (molasses or gur), yellow gram (chana) dal, plain flour, cardamom powder and ghee (clarified butter). It is made at almost all festivals. A meal containing puran poli is considered "heavy" by Marathi people.[4]
  • Modak: It is a Maharashtrian sweet that is typically steamed (ukdiche modak).[5][4] Modak is prepared during the Ganesha festival around August, when it is often given as an offering to lord Ganesha, the elephant-headed God, as it is reportedly his favorite sweet. For more info, visit Wikibooks:Cookbook:Modak. Modak can also be fried with various sweet stuffings.
  • Gulab Jaam: They are balls made from dense milk (Mava/Khava) and bleached wheat flour fried in ghee (clarified butter) and then dipped in sugar syrup.
  • Anarsa: It is made from soaked powdered rice with jaggery or sugar. The traditional process for creating the Anarsa batter could be tedious to modern-day homemakers since it takes three days.[4]
  • Chirota: Made by a combination of rawa (semolina) and maida (plain flour)
  • Jalebi: Sweetened chickpea flour deep fried in spiral shapes, then coated in sugar syrup.
  • Basundi: Sweetened dense milk dessert.
  • Amras: Pulp or thick juice made from mangoes, with a bit of sugar if needed and milk at times.
  • Shrikhand: Sweetened yogurt flavoured with saffron, cardamom and charoli nuts.
  • Amrakhand: Sweetened yogurt flavoured with mango, saffron, cardamom and charoli nuts.
  • Ladu: These are a popular snack in Maharashtra traditionally prepared for Diwali. There are a number of different ladus based on semolina, gram flour or bundi.
  • Pedha: Round balls made from a mixture of khoa, sugar and saffron.

Appetizers or snacks[edit]

Cooked Pohe/Pohay
Kothimbir Wadi
Pav Bhaji
Sabudana Wada
Potato filling used in batata vada—this is dipped in batter and fried to make the finished product.

There are a lot of snacks and side dishes in Maharashtrian cuisine. Some quintessentially Maharashtrian dishes include:

  • Chivda: Spiced flattened rice. It is also known as "Bombay mix" in foreign countries, especially Great Britain.
  • Pohay: Pohay or pohe is a snack made from flattened rice. It is most likely served with tea and is probably the most likely dish that a Maharashtrian will offer his/her guest. During arranged marriages in Maharashtra, Kanda Pohe (literal translation, "pohe prepared with onion") is most likely the dish served when the two families meet. It is so common that sometimes arranged marriage itself is referred colloquially as "kanda-pohay". Other variants on the recipe include batata pohe (where diced potatoes are used instead of onion shreds). Other famous recipes made with Pohe (flattened rice) are dadpe pohe, a mixture of raw Pohe with shredded fresh coconut, green chillies, ginger and lemon juice; and kachche pohe, raw pohe with minimal embellishments of oil, red chili powder, salt and unsautéed onion shreds.
  • Upma, sanja or upeeth: This snack is similar to the South Indian upma. It is a thick porridge made from semolina perked up with green chillies, onions and other spices.
  • Surali Wadi: Chickpea flour rolls with a garnishing of coconut, coriander leaves and mustard.
  • Vada pav: A popular Maharashtrian "Fast Food" dish consisting of a fried mashed potato dumpling (vada), eaten sandwiched in a wheat bread bun (pav). This is referred to as the Indian version of a burger and is almost always accompanied with the famous red chutney made from garlic and fried red and green chillies. Vada pav in its entirety is rarely made at home, mainly, because oven cooking at home is not common.
  • Misal Pav: Quintessentially from Kolhapur. This is made from a mix of curried sprouted lentils, topped with batata bhaji, pohay, chivda, farsaan, raw chopped onions and tomato. It is also sometimes eaten with yogurt. Usually, the misal is served with a wheat bread bun.
  • Pav bhaji: This specialty dish from the lanes of Mumbai has mashed steamed mixed vegetables (mainly potatoes, peas, tomatoes, onions and green pepper) cooked in spices and table butter. The vegetable mix is served with a soft wheat bun shallow fried in butter and chopped onion. Sometimes cheese, such as paneer (cottage cheese), is added.
  • Thalipeeth: A type of pancake. It is usually spicy and eaten with curd.[6]
  • Sabudana Khichadi: Sautéed sabudana (pearls of sago palm), a dish commonly eaten on days of religious fasting.
  • Khichdi: Made up of rice and dal with mustard seeds and onions to add flavor.
  • Chana daliche dheerde

Like most Indian cuisines, Maharashtrian cuisine is laced with lots of fritters. Some of them include:

Special occasions and festival delicacies[edit]

Makar Sankrant[edit]

This festival being based on the solar calendar always falls on January 14 of the Gregorian calendar. Tilgul Poli or gulpoli are the main sweet preparations made on the day in Maharashtra. It is a wheat-based flat bread with a filling of sesame seeds and jaggery.[7]


Marathi Hindu people hold a fast on this day. The fasting food on this day includes chutney prepared with pulp of the kavath fruit (Limonia).[8]

Ganesh Chaturthi[edit]

Modak is the favorite food of the elephant headed Hindu God Ganesh. An offering of twenty one pieces of this sweet preparation is offered on Ganesh Chaturthi and other minor Ganesh related events.[9]* Modak is a steamed dumpling filled with a coconut and jaggery filling. In some instances, the preparation is deep-fried instead of being steamed.[5] [4]


Just like most other parts of India, Diwali is the most popular Hindu festival. In Maharashtrian tradition, during days of Diwali, family members have a ritual bath before dawn and then sit down for a breakfast of fried sweets and savory snacks. These sweets and snacks are offered to visitors to the house during the multi-day festival and exchanged with neighbors. Typical sweet preparations include Ladu, Anarse, and Karanjya. Popular savory treats include Chakli, Shev and Chiwda.[10] Being high in fat and low in moisture, these snacks can be stored at room temperature for many weeks without going bad.

Champa Sashthi[edit]

Many Maharashtrian communities from all social levels observe the "Khandoba Festival" or Champa Shashthi in the month of Mārgashirsh. This is a six-day festival, from the first to sixth lunar day of the bright fortnight. Households perform Ghatasthapana of Khandoba during this festival. The sixth day of the festival is called Champa Sashthi. For many people, the Chaturmas period ends on Champa Sashthi. As it is customary for many families not to consume onions, garlic and eggplant (Brinjal/Aubergine) during the Chaturmas, the consumption of these food items resumes with ritual preparation of Vangyache Bharit (Baingan Bharta) with rodga, which are small round flat breads prepared from jwari (white millet).[11][12]

Fasting cuisine[edit]

A large number of Marathi Hindu people hold fasts on days, such as Ekadashi in honour of Lord Vishnu or his Avatars, Chaturthi in honour of Ganesh, Mondays in honour of Shiva, or Saturdays in honour of Maruti or Saturn.[13] Only certain kinds of foods are allowed to be eaten. These include milk and other dairy products (such as yogurt), fruit, sago (sabudana), potatoes, nuts (such as peanuts), purple-red sweet potatoes (called ratali in Marathi), rajgira (Amaranth seeds), and varyache tandul (Shama millet).[14] Thus a calorie and carbohydrate-rich fasting menu can be prepared by selecting from the items listed above. Popular fasting dishes include Sabudana Khichadi or danyachi amti (peanut soup).[15] Fasting cuisine in Maharashtra also includes Marathi Muslim people during the Islamic fasting month of Ramadan.



  1. ^ KHANNA, VIKAS (Dec 1, 2012). My Great Indian Cookbook. Penguin UK,. 
  2. ^ Khatau, Asha (2004). Epicure S Vegetarian Cuisines Of India. Mumbai: Popular Prakashan ltd. p. 57. ISBN 81-7991-119-5. 
  3. ^ Barve, Mangala; Translator: Datar, Snehalata. Annapurna (1 ed.). Mumbai, India: Majestic Prakashan. ISBN 9788174320032. Retrieved 24 December 2014. 
  4. ^ a b c d e Reejhsinghani 1975, p. x.
  5. ^ a b Khanna, Vikas (2013). SAVOUR MUMBAI: A CULINARY JOURNEY THROUGH INDIA’S MELTING POT. New Delhi: Westland Limited. 
  6. ^ Khatau, Asha (2004). Epicure S Vegetarian Cuisines Of India. Mumbai: Popular Prakashan ltd. p. 63. ISBN 81-7991-119-5. 
  7. ^ Naik*, S.N.; Prakash, Karnika (2014). "Bioactive Constituents as a Potential Agent in Sesame for Functional and Nutritional Application". JOURNAL OF BIORESOURCE ENGINEERING AND TECHNOLOGY 2 (4): 42–60. 
  8. ^ Deshmukh, B. S.; Waghmode, Ahilya (July 2011). "Role of wild edible fruits as a food resource: Traditional knowledge" (PDF). I NTERNATIONAL J OURNAL OF P HARMACY & L IFE S CIENCES 2 (7): 919–924. 
  9. ^ Zealiot, Eleanor; Berntsen, Maxine (1988). The experience of Hinduism: Essays on religion in Maharashtra. Albany, New York, USA: State University of New York Press. p. 78. ISBN 0-88706-662-3. 
  10. ^ Edmund W. Lusas; Lloyd W. Rooney (5 June 2001). Snack Foods Processing. CRC Press. pp. 488–. ISBN 978-1-4200-1254-5. 
  11. ^ Gupte 1994, p. 16.
  12. ^ Pillai 1997, p. 192.
  13. ^ Dalal 2010, p. 6.
  14. ^ Dalal 2010, p. 7.
  15. ^ Dalal 2010, p. 63.


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