The Cuisine of Maharashtra is as Diverse as India. Until now, a Maharashtrian Food was synonymous to a Puneri Poori Bhaji,Shrikhand,subjee Thali or a Malvani fish,Solkadhi or a Kolhapuri Tambda Pandhara Rassa. And that was because most Mumbaikars like me were exposed to these limited tastes. Travel was limited and so was the culinary adventure. But with the digital boom, communication is faster,so is the information exchange. With social media platforms like Twitter and Instagram, oral and text conversations are limited, but hashtags seal the gaps and makes search easier. Pictures speak a million words, reach a million people. And all this gives way to a Culinary exchange and Food revolution. Easier travel and disposable incomes has given rise to a trend of weekend getaways and for the food enthusiasts a packaged culinary outing like foodie trials, food and Wine tours and so on.
Khandeshi Food got a recognition thanks to the wine revolution in Nasik boosted by a better road connectivity with Mumbai. Eager foodies now want to explore different regional cuisines with distinct flavors. We all are spoilt for choice since our country has a variety of cuisines and tastes. And Elite Hotel chains like The Gateway Hotels are quick to act. Most of their chains have a section of unique local flavor on menu. And they stick to the original recipe and try to maintain the authenticity as much as possible.
Our recent stay at The Gateway Hotel, Hinjewadi,Pune was a culinary delight. Apart from the hospitality and the homeliness of the place, it was the Local Varadi Food that both surprised us and impressed us!
Most of us Indians are addicted to Homemade Food. We re simply not wired for daily takeaway survival. Thats why,even on a vacation, there comes a time when all you crave is a simple WaranBhat/DalChawal. But even the menus offering dal rice are tadka dominated, in short restauranterised. Who wants to eat a full red oil laced dal tadka with chillies garlic floating on top, when all u want is plain dal devoid of all the fancies. . Happened to us too. We noticed a unique offering on The Gateway menu,. A Tiffin meal.. and out of options, we decided to try. The order arrived with the staff carrying fine crockery cutlery and a 5 layered Steel Tiffin, like the Mumbai Dabbawalas...literally. Each layer was a culinary surprise and delight. Imagine a spread consisting of ghee laced choorma with homemade style kadhi, an optimally spiced red saoji chicken curry, and a fragrant masale bhat,that wasnt crowded with vegetables seeking attention, but earthy peanuts and chunks of coconut in perfect medley. An earthen pot of homemade dahi, light porous with just the light tang . A platter of bhakris served with a spicy thecha, and a sweet tangy murrabba to the rescue incase you underestimated the spice of the thecha. It was the first rustic meal I had away from home in a plush setting.
On the breakfast buffet, were the delightfull bakery which kids indulged. A variety which will make you believe in what Grandmoms said “Eat breakfast like a King" the remaining part of the statements, most of us foodies ignore..isnt it?
Just like the generous breakfast spread was the generosity of the executive Chef Dinesh Dadlani. We were honored to have gotten a chance to meet him. And when quizzed about the Varadi Food, he fondly replied" We dont take a chance with regional recipes" The homemakers who cook it daily are employed to help us cook them to perfection" . He sensed my curiosity and agreed to part with the hotels own recipes for Varadi Food. And as a gesture and of course his permit ,I promised to publish these rustic recipes on our blog!
Touched by the hospitality, food and a delightful gingerbread house with a plum cake as a parting gift from the Chef, I promised myself to return to my newly found home in Pune!
And the next time you want to eat local, head to The Gateway Hotel
And if you wish to cook local, think Namakshamak.com.
Recipes from Varadi Cuisine by Chef Dinesh Dadlani,Courtesy The GatewayHotel Pune.:
We have posted each recipe individually. Click the links below to be redirected to each recipe.