A taste of Maharashtra with two wonderful hosts: Diva Maharashtracha Home Delivery

International Labour Day or 1st May is celebrated as Maharashtra Day locally. It is the day on which the state of Maharashtra was created. Mumbai being its capital.

Coincidentally I was invited to dinner by a Maharashtrian couple on Sunday, the day after Maharashtra day. I went there not knowing what to expect. Turned out that I got to meet two of the greatest hosts I have come across. And the competition for that accolade is very very stiff.

Consider the facts, they are very disciplined eaters, often eat soup for dinner. Yet the spread on Sunday would have made a banquet table sag. They are vegetarian. Yet they arranged for non vegetarian food for folks like me. I said, rather insincerely, that they shouldn't have. Was mighty pleased though.

It doesn't end there. You can just 'order' food. Or put a lot of thought into it as had happened here. They ordered Maharashtrian food. Something one, ironically, doesn't get to eat too often. Within that too went a lot of planning. No Maharashtrian available at their local Kalina? Well they called from Diva Maharashtracha in Dadar. Half way across town. I had never eaten from there before. But the food turned out to be phenomenal. D M has a  a menu card on the web and you apparently have to pay one way cab fare for them to deliver.

The wonders of hospitality didn't end there. No fish as 'it could get soggy in the heat'. Two different chicken dishes as there were more chicken eaters. And a mutton dish to break the taste. Did I mention that they were vegetarians? I thought of my own cavalier attitude towards vegetarian guests and felt humbled.

The first dish that we tried was the half moon shaped Kolambachee Karanjee. Karanjees are sweetish savouries popular in Maharashtra. The magnificent folks at DM had made these with prawns in a faint cheese sauce. It was one of the most wonderful dishes that I have had in a long time. A gossamer thin crust with  very gentle and ethereal prawns inside. Similar to an oyster full of prized pearls. It tasted very fresh. Bear in mind that it must have been cooked at least four hours back and delivered half way across the city. How good was that! We wolfed it down and realised that the rest of dishes would be pretty good too and clicked those on our host's I Phone.

So there was Kolhapuri Chicken Tambada Rassa. I had recently fallen in love with the white coconut milk and chicken stock based Tambada Rassa at Purepur Kolhapur. The one at DM had a thicker gravy. Equally soothing and maternal with pieces of chicken in it.

Then there was Malvani Chicken Shagoti. "You mean Goan Xacutti, right?", I asked suspiciously. My host explained that this was a coastal dish claimed by many across the coast. Well they can fight over it. As far as I am concerned it was really tasty. The sauce looked deceptively fiery. It was more a like a complex Hindustaani classical raaga, a symphony of many notes.

Our vegetarian friends had thoughtfully realised the need to not flood us with chicken. So next on offer was Varhadi Mutton. Slightly tangy with a gritty mix of poppy and dry coconut. A dish which trumpeted its pure, rustic tribal origins with élan.

Maharashtrians favour spicy condiments with their food. The Diva Maharashtracha folks had sent these ground masalas and chilly picles. There was a vegetarian dish called Patodi which had soft gram pulse dumplings in a gravy made with something called kala goda masala. This was a concentrated spice mix which finally lived up to the fiery reputation of Maharashtrian food. The sort of gravy which cleanses your soul and bring tears to your eyes. A cathartic experience. A lot like a Tequila shot.

We got treated to more than the Diva Maharashtracha marvels that night. There was a fantastic wheat husk based, cous cous like pulao which our hostess had made for the weight conscious vegetarian in our group. I polished off quite a bit and went for second and thirds. So you can imagine how tasty it was.

See these yummy gulab jamuns below? They were yummier than they look and enjoyed with a malai ice cream. Again a very thoughtful choice as the Indian themed malai ice cream went much better with gulab jamun than synthetic vanilla ice creams. These gulab jamuns were made by our host who when not making gulab jamuns scurries through the Vietcong tunnels of Vietnam with unruffled ease.

So I had two great Maharashtrian food experiences in the last couple of months or so. Can't wait for our trip to the Konkani restaurant Pangat, courtesy reader and friend, Happy Fork.

And Vandana and Maneesh, at the cost of sounding cheesy, I'll be back. Thanks for the lovely evening. say hi to Simpu. And Baalu.


Unknown said…
I am suddenly struck by a huge craving for those gulab jamuns! Will your friends invite me over? Looks like you had a great time.
Sharmila said…
Love the rustic flavours of Maharashtrian food. We always go for local cuisine when we are travelling the Konkan coast ... but not even in the resorts we stay in ... always someplace small or locals' homes that makes them fresh and using the chulha. Have quite a few places here that serve such stuff. :-)
That mutton dish sounds new ... poppy seeds? Hmm. :-)
Kalyan Karmakar said…
@Pree: I am sure they would... :)

@Sharmila...its really amazing that I am getting to savour Maharashtrian food after more than a decade here. The tendency in most Mumbai joints is to pulverise stuff with colour, oil and spice
///M said…
When Nishant and T were in, in the morning, when we were demolishing the pancakes, the topic was what to order for the evening.
While Vandana and I now prefer vegetarian food, I knew the trepidation with which the invitees must be approaching the evening. Specially the meat eaters.
The brightest thought was to call for something different. Diva Maharashtracha was an easy answer. Because, strangely enough, hardly anyone knows the variety that different districts in Maharashtra can offer and we were sure that very few among the invitees would have had anything close to real food. All that is known is the streetfood (vada pav/misal/pohé (not poha))
What was not, was what to order.
The guest list was a Marwadi vegetarian who now digs chicken in any form, a Mangalorean who had announced that she was vegetarian that day, a Bengali who is a connoisseur of good food, no prizes for guessing that one, a Parsi who's allergic to rice and who doesn't eat anything, including Indian sweets, except meat and chocolate, another Parsi who doesn't eat anything with greens/coriander in it (exception made only for coriander paste slathered Patra ni Macchh), a Bunt who will eat anything if she is in the mood and if she arrives at all, a third Parsi who is on a diet, so will pick her way through everything, a Maharashtrian who eats Idli at parties (we refused to fall for that, hence the Lapsi pulao for him).
In short, one of the most complex food considerations ever faced by me.
The Gulabjamuns were sugar-free, by the way. Which is why they had a watery sweet taste than the thicker sugar syrup ones.

As far as the fiery reputation about Maharashtrian food, well, not all regions eat that kind of food.
People from Pune/Konkan have a very subtle, simpler kind of food, with hardly any chilli/spices.
I can offer you some the next time, but to have that you will have to brave some vegetarian food :)
Lazy Pineapple said…
yummy yummy...this restaurant sounds damn good. I would be recommending it to a couple of friends who live in Mumbai.

you made me weep after discussing the desert...I wish I could get some of it here :(
Kalyan Karmakar said…
@M; so my reading of the hosts were right:) As was your reading of the guests.

After more than a decade here I have recently got exposed to good MaHarashtrian food. There is so little written about it. In fact the note on Maharashtra day in Wiki was skimpy too.

I hope that I would be able to change this for some. My tribute to Mumbai

I love desserts which are not too sweet and even have a bit of salt in it. Your gulabjamuns worked fantastically for me

@Lazy Awww... yes you must recommend this and Purepur Kolhapur. Looking forward to Pangat a Konkani jt at Borivili which a friend and reader is treating me to on Sat
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