How food of Maharashtra came along with family of Maharashtra!
Inevitably there was somewhat of a culture shock when as a North Indian, I married into a Maharashtrian family. However, a more significant perspective shift apart from embedding myself into Maharashtra’s culture, took place in my relationship with desi Marathi food, when I met my in-laws! Hitherto my approach to food had been largely that of necessity rather than interest or delight, but much to my amazement, the new in-laws seemed to exist only to eat, and if not to eat, to discuss food at great length with much tickling of the taste buds and salivating of the glands taking place. Each Marathi recipe was analysed in atomic detail. Barely had they finished breakfast would lunch start getting planned and hardly had the last morsel of the Masale Bhaat (which some claim is amongst the most famous food of Maharashtra) been gulped down, that they would start talking about what the culinary marvel for dinner would be. My brother-in- law would start off a story about the holiday they had recently come back from, and it would morph quickly and seamlessly from talking about the tourist sites they had seen, to the food they had eaten, each meal described lavishly and lengthily. Any wedding they attended or any event they went for, was never about the bride and groom or the performance, but invariably about the buffet table and its contents. Marathi food was described with such love, warmth and attention to detail and discussed with so much passion in the household that even a non-foodie like myself started getting quite entranced with the concept of culinary pleasure.
Over a period of time, as I got more acquainted with Maharashtrian cuisine and its many variations, I slowly figured out the reason for this sensory centrality of food in my acquired family’s life, which simply was that there were just so many delightful and different flavours and subtle undertones each dish had. As a Punjabi, I was certainly used to great food, but it was largely of a specific taste; that of my mother’s homemade Garam Masala which got used in all cooking. In contrast, Aai, my mother-in-law had a special Masala for almost every dish. There was the smoky dark Kala Masala that would make its appearance while making the most delicious Bharlelivaangi (Stuffed Brinjals) and spread its redolence in the entire house. If you wanted a subtler sweetish flavour to make some elegantly simple and super tasty drumstick or potato sabzi, the Goda Masala came shyly out of the shelf. And on the day my father-in-law decided to make his-World Famous in Lokhandwala Bangda fish fry he would forbid anybody from giving him any other masala except Agri Masala to lovingly marinade the fish with.
No wonder each day’s meal had an inimitable and matchless taste and style to it. Before long I had become an ardent devotee of all Maharashtrian dishes and an equally passionate fan of my mother-in-law’s cooking. My compliments pleased her tremendously and mother-in-law and daughter-in-law got along famously as a result.
Now what should we plan to have for lunch? Some varan-bhat with just a dollop of hot ghee on it and a dash of Spicy Red Thecha anyone? At Aazol, we share a common love for food and we cherish the small joys of life while cooking.
Author: Apurva Purohit, Co-Founder | Aazol