A couple of months ago, I randomly packed my bags and landed in Mumbai. Partly because I didn’t know when I would be seeing my best friend who was moving to Australia next and partly because I was on a food hopping spree and desperately wished that Bombay was still my Bombay.
Unfortunately the city I once madly loved didn’t feel the same and everything made me super annoyed except at nights when the streets were empty and chill winds blew and I sat by Carter Road gazing at people and talking to my bestie about life in depth.
I woke up one day and decided that it was extremely stupid of me to have never tried authentic Maharashtrian cuisine during my one year escapade in Mumbai and since I was back in the city for a few days, it was legit that I give Marathi cuisine a go. After a couple of calls later, I was directed to everyone’s safest bait- Diva Maharashtra/ Goa Portugesa. The same building hosts both the restaurants or menu whichever you would like to call it.
While my eyes kept wandering off to their lovely selection of Goan seafood, my friend begged me to focus and keep my adventure to simply Maharashtra. She won, I let her choose and then began my tasting of some real magnificent dishes.
She picked out the Kokum “sharbat”, Bharwali baingan, Tambada Rassa (chicken) to go with rice and paratha. I fell in love with the sweet mulberry juice as soon as I gulped my first sip but Shruti turned annoyed and declared it wasn’t even Kokum. Now having tasted mulberry juice before, my closest guess would be it wasn’t the purest of kokums used and maybe authentic Marathi kokum sharbat uses some more flavours that the restaurant clearly missed out.
I was overjoyed cleaning my plate full of the mildly spicy gravy of bringals cooked in a peanut-coconut gravy with rice and the spiciest of chicken gravies- the Tambada Rassa. Never have I so quickly fallen in love with a cuisine so deeply and that included its vegetarian dishes; knowing my aversion to vegetarian food and unfortunately have vegetarian foodie friends.
Marathi cuisine, is quite frankly one of the most complex cuisines of our country from its plethora of spicy and borderline sweet that come from Parsi, Anglo, Gujrati and fiery Kolhapuri influences that has long dominated the state’s gastronomy. And with so many different choices for a gourmand, it is only important that I fall in love and recreate some of their dishes in my own time till I get another chance to go back and taste some more from the region.
I ended my meal with a Goan favourite dessert- Bibinca. Growing up, almost every travel channel that went to Goa showed the dessert and the happy exclamations of everyone who tried it, naturally stirring the curiosity of the general public and myself being one I enthusiastically ordered one and then realised what a big mistake it was. It frankly tasted like the worst thing that landed in my mouth. Made of eggs and what not, I should have been wiser knowing the fact that I find the smell of eggs in my dessert pretty revolting.
Nonetheless, the mains being far more than amazing, a little glitch was almost expected and I am still my dauntless self eager to try and learn more from my humble little land holding so many cultures and their specific dishes.