As we celebrate Maharashtra day today, the Maharashtrian in me can't help but talk about my favourite thing, the Maharashtrian food. Be it the humble Sabudana Khichadi or the very sweet & yet extravagant Puranpoli; Maharashtra’s state cuisine is packed with variety. The most intriguing about the food that showcases its diverse culture is the traditional Maharashtrian thali, a little bit of everything that the state has to offer.
From the heat of the Kolhapur chilli or the tang of Konkan kokum, there is something for everyone in the Maharashtrian Thali. The contents of a Maharashtrian Thali differ as per the regions but there are a few key elements that always make an appearance. Staples like Varan Bhaat, Poli, Bhaaji & Koshimbir are varieties that are common irrespective of whether the thali comes from- Konkan, Marathwada, Khandesh or Vidharbha. And this is just the tip of the iceberg as there are also a variety of sweets treats like shreekhanda, fried snacks like Alu Vadi and Kothimbir vadi and also a variety of beverages that go along with the meal like, Taak and Solkadi.Now, these individual items together make a wholesome meal. The Maharashtrian concept of Chari Thaav Jevan (square meal) ensures that all these individual items provide the essential nutrition required.
Apart from the regional variation in the Maharashtrian thali, there's an elaborate affair for the non-vegetarian & seafood lovers too. The traditional non-vegetarian thali includes Chicken Curry, Rassa, Bhakri or Poli & Rice. The beauty of the Maharashtrian Thali cannot be captured in a single as the plethora of items and permutation and combination are vast.Here are a few Maharashtrian thalis that are absolute goals.
1. This Thali is a quintessential vegetarian Maharashtrian Thali that has Puri Batata Bhaji and shrikhand. To add to this classic combo is a tomato saar and a dahi tomato raita (along with some chutney).
2. This spread is an elaborate Marathi veg. thali affair. This thali has cauliflower mix sabzi, dry zhunka, kadhi, poli ( roti) & methi masala rice. The star of this thali is definitely the sheera in the centre.
3. Now, this is a seafood/non-veg thali to please all the Konkan thali lovers – this thali has roti, Malvani chicken rassa, prawn fry and taak (chaas).
4. This is now a simple plate that is representative of the rural Maharashtra where lunch is always a simple yet hearty meal. This is a thali consisting of pithla bhakri along with nothing else but onion and chilli.
5. Vegetarian and non-vegetarian mixed plate – this thali has chicken rassa, tendli sabzi, dahi raita, and to support this meal is a very simple amti (dal) and rice.
6. A seafood delight again, this thali has fish curry, prawn sukkah and the very popular sol kadi that tastes delicious along with some rice.
7. The vegetarian traditional thali – now this thali has all the staples of the vegetarian fanfare – it has poli, mix sabji , usal ( which is a very protein-heavy mixture of lentils ), pumpkin raita, and the famous khamang kakdi koshimbir ( a mixture of ground peanuts and cucumber). Also at the centre of the thali is varan bhaat (simple and staple) along with the sweetness of puran poli.
8. This last thali is probably the everyday thali in the Maharashtrian household– cabbage peas sabzi , roti , rice and chicken rassa. The sabzi keeps changing but the other elements remain the same on most days.