CHENNAI: It is not often that we see a culture as distinct as Marathas blending with that of South India through a culinary feast. Diva Maharshtracha, the ongoing Maharashtra food festival at the restaurant Goa Portuguesa, is an attempt by the restaurant owners Suhas Awchat and Deepa Awchat to expose Chennaiites to Marathi food. Head chef Mohammad Ali said, “Master chef Deepa Awchat, along with other chefs, has tried to bring out traditional dishes from various communities of Maharashtra, imbibing a few innovations but at the same time maintaining the authenticity.” Credit also goes to Maharashtrian chef Dinesh, whose contribution helped bring out the authentic taste of the land, he added.
The food festival is sure to tickle the taste buds of people who come by with dishes from Kolhapur, Konkan and Nagpur communities. People from the South can relate with the menu as it contains spicy masalas and coconut-rich delicacies.
The 26-dish course comprises tomato saar, chicken zhanzanit soup, paneer kolhapuri suke, steamed green peas cashew modak and aluchi vadi. Apart from these, there is kolhapuri suki with chicken, mutton, prawns and fish, steamed chicken, mutton kheema modak, fish hirva fry and kolambichi bhajii for starters.
For main course, there is kala watana amti, bharleli wangi, oli usal, batata watana sukhi bhaji, chicken and mutton tambada rasa, chicken and mutton pandhra rassa, saoji mutton and fish kalputti. Adding to the Maharashtrian taste is khamang kakadi, masale bhat, vadey, rice bhakri, steamed sweet modak and puran poli.
We started with the tangy tomato saar, a traditional soup of tomato puree, coconut milk and chillies flavoured with cumin seeds, and followed it with steamed green peas cashew modak, stuffed with green peas and cashew nuts cooked with mild spices.
While the taste still lingered on our tongues, we treated ourselves to the spicy and tasty Kolhapuri suke cooked in Kolhapuri red masala. The other options included kala watana amti, a gravy of black grams cooked in coconut, jaggery and tamarind served with delicate rice bhakri — rice batter similar to Kerala pathiri.
The little space that we still had in our tummy was sealed with saoji mutton served with vadey and vegetable-cooked rice masala bhat.
As far as the desserts were concerned, they were reminiscent of the South Indian kozhukkattai, a dumpling of rice flour.
Chef Ali said, “The highlight of the festival is surely saoji mutton, Kolhapur suke and sweet modak.” He added that this was the first time Diva Maharashtracha was coming to the city. “We are getting great response here. Most like the spicy Kolhapuri suke. It is probably because they are used to the spicy food here,” he said.
The festival is on at Goa Portuguesa, Khader Nawaz Khan Road, till June 29.