I'm no food connoisseur but here's my first conclusion: "Not every Misal looks and tastes the same." Second, what ramen is to the Japanese, Misal is to Maharashtrians.
Earlier on, I was apprehensive about trying Misal pav due to an infamous hype surrounding it- that it's overly spicy. Somehow I wasn't okay with my perception of this flavourful dish (as I was told) and being a foodie, I just wanted to get some clarity.
And, then a miracle happened. Although, reluctantly, just the other day, a plate of Misal Pav landed in front of me and I dunk my pav in the tari. I was turned.
I tried to understand the concept behind the dish and understood that there's more to it than meets the eye when we talk about Misal Pav. The more I dived into the subject, the greater was my interest in knowing about the various types of Misals across the state.
For everyone who is not familiar with this dish, here's a little gist- Misal is a popular Maharashtrian spicy breakfast or a snack dish, made with moth beans as the main ingredient.
Into the regional Misal story:
Misal Pav is a recipe that's synonymous with different regions of Maharashtra. There's a version for every region- be it Puneri, Kolhapuri, Nashik or Nagpuri. Misal has two types - the thick spicy sprouted mixture, called Ussal and the watery gravy, called Rassa. The gravy is either Laal Rassa (Red Gravy), Kala Rassa (Black Gravy) or Hirwa Rassa (Green Gravy). Tari is a spicy red oil that makes the dish look devouringly mouth-watering. All Misal's are relished with pav, buttered or plain.
Puneri Misal: This delicacy is made with ussal in a not-so-spicy red tari/kat/rasa. It's generously topped with diced potato and sev-chiwda with a side of chopped coriander and onion to go with it. This Misal has both, sweet and tangy notes, making it less spicy than it's other counterparts.
Nashik Misal: Made with Matki sprouts, this Misal comes in a black or green tari/kat/rasa. It's a spicy curry topped with farsan or sev, onion, lemon and coriander. The black gravy is high on black pepper while green is a mix of green chilli and coriander. Fried papad and yoghurt are two accompaniments that set apart other Misals from the Nashik one.
Nagpuri Misal: From what I gathered, the moth bean tari is topped with Kande Pohe (Onion flat rice dish) along with other farsan. Also, grated coconut is like a cherry on the cake for a Misal dish. It brings together flavour combinations that sing through your palate.
Kolhapuri Misal: Kanda-Lasun Masala (Onion-Garlic) is the game-changing ingredient used in Kolhapur to make this deliciously spicy curry. No other Misal's use this masala. As for toppings, finely diced onions and farsan are most loved while instead of pav, bread is preferred.
Khandeshi Misal: From the north-western region of Maharashtra, this misal is a hot and spicy affair with a kaala rassa made with dried coconut, onion, garam masala and coriander powder. The kaala or black masala is omnipresent across the Khandeshi cuisine, making it one of the spiciest cuisines in Maharashtra.
Every household has its own recipe, here's the recipe of our version of a yummy Misal Pav that you can easily make at home.
Mind you, there's absolutely no way I'm trying to establish Misal Pav's authenticity or origination. I'm simply clearing the air about how one can eat the same dish in different variations. And, everyone's experience of this dish is unique, depending on where one has grown up.
Therefore, the war of "Who makes a better Misal Pav?" needs to be ceased. Let's coexist and find our calling with the one that makes our taste buds dance. I rest my case here, happily.
Think of her as a delicacy. She could be a red sauce penne pasta or refreshing strawberry smoothie. A little sweet, quite tangy and unapologetic on the palate. Her soul is that of a gastronome, mind of an illustrator and heart of a writer. She uses these ingredients to plate up tasty stories about food at India Food Network as an Associate Editor. Be it her blogs, articles, reviews or food shows; she promises a wholesome affair.