(Disclaimer: The views expressed are my own and from the single or multiple experiences that I have had with the food joint. While you are free to disagree with the opinion below; please respect the originality and fairness of the content. The opinion/ review is purely based on my experience and there is no biased, favored or commercial angle to it. Also, the ratings and description are for the experience I had during my visit, the experience may be different owing to one’s personal palette preferences and several other operational factors)
It was Monday and The B Team fellas were yet ready for another milestone on their gastronomical journey when they were invited to be a part of the ongoing ‘Maharashtrian food festival’ at Courtyard by Marriott, Hinjawadi. The fest is hosted in association with MTDC and brings in some of the most authentic recipes of different cuisines that the state has to offer. The fest will be running from 11th to 21st April and will be serving during lunch and dinner. The recipes included, are an attempt towards bringing the long lost authentic recipes to the table with due contribution and curating done by food connoisseur Aditya Mehendale. A glimpse of the sumptuous dishes of the Royal and ancient Maharashtrian cuisine: Patahre Prabhu Kombdi masala, Nagpur’s Saoji Machhi Masala, Varhadi Mutton, Konkan – Malwani phanes sukka, Kolapuri kombdi rassa and more. This special lavish lunch buffet, is priced at Rs. 749 plus taxes and the dinner thalis are priced at 999 plus taxes. You get to witness different cuisine each day so make most of this opportunity.
The management has brought in the royal era back with their recipe and equally with their ambiance. The place has been adorned with ingredients like coconut, red chillies, coriander, curry leaves, lemon, ginger and also some of the vessels and traditional tools to make the masala like a ‘Pata varvanta’ (Stone slab and a rolling pin to grind the spices). The staff is seen wearing traditional white shirt/ Vijar, dhoti and phetas while the ladies are draped in paithani and nauwariis. The tutari at the entrance make the whole environment even more traditional. The regular sitting arrangement has also been changed for the festive period.
Now, at a high level the Maharashtrian cuisine can be divided into two categories – Konkani and Varadhi (Vidharbha cuisine) owing to the geographical division as coastal and interior plateau based region; but the Konkani cuisine can be further subdivided to include Malvani, Gaud Saraswat Brahmin, and Goan cuisine while we can even include kolhapuri dishes to have its own distinct cuisine as Kolhapuri Cuisine. We were a part of the Kolhapuri cuisine and got to savor the two specially crafted thali’s (Veg and non veg thali) for the occasion.
We started off to amazing start with Sol kadhi or should I say Soul curry? Although more aptly a part of Konkani cuisine we started off the Kolhapuri food voyage on an energized note with the super energetic Sol Kadhi. Made primarily from coconut milk and Kokum this chilled drink was very refreshing. The best part was the add-ons like curry leaves, cumin, green chillies and garlic used was kept on a mild note and the promising taste came from the kokum – coconut milk part which is the way it should be. IT is meant to be a mild drink and an appetizer.
I obviously opted for the non veg thali which had some really great line up like: Sarga tawa fry , Navsacha kombda, Sahalache mase, Bharli wangi, Wal Piwli Sal, Bhakri, Pitla, Ratalyachi kheer, Suralachi Vadi (Khandvi), Alu Wadi, Kombdi dum pulao, Tambda and Padhra Rassa.
Sarga Tawa Fry: A star attraction for the night this one was particularly customized according to Aditya’s instruction. The pomfret is perfectly filleted and then cooked, post which it is marinated in spices, dusted with rice flour and tossed in pan to a crispy golden brown in minimal oil. The net result was simply drool worthy. #HighlyRecommended
Navsachya Kombda: A dish particularly famous with the Koli community as it is a dish specially prepared during marriages, requires you to use authentic Koli masala. Roasted coconut paste obviously happens to be part of the central theme of the dish. Mildly spicy the dish added the heat to the thali in general. Liked it but I had more interesting recipes to concentrate on.
Wal Piwli Dal: How can a thali be complete without dal? A simple lite on waist high in protein dal to even out the flavor burst happening in the mouth.
Bharli Wangi: A masaledar preparation of the egg plant along with dried shrimps, this was appreciated by the non Maharashtrian on the table more than the localities’. Sadly, I missed eating that as it was not included in the first time serving of thali and were brought later on one by one.
Sahalache Mase: The best part of the evening according to me. The recipe was so perfect for it used the best of the fusion of the sea food and different shades of coconut. Confused? Let me elaborate. The dish was made using the prawns, squids and fish in gravy which was subtly crafted using tender coconut shavings, tender coconut water and regular coconut. The mildly sticky broth and meat simmered to perfection in milky coconut curry made it the perfect recipe one could ask for. Totally floored by it. #MustHave #AbsolutelyMandatory
Bhakri: A jowar bhakri is something no Maharashtrian thali would be complete without. So yes, a nice soft, moist bhakri was served to enjoy all the other delicacies on the plate along with its all-time partner in crime – Pithla.
Pitla: Pithla and Bhakri are like ‘two bodies and one soul’ !! ;D Two dramatic? Full on hindi film style na? But seriously, none of them is used in singularity. The word is Pithla-Bhakri. People used to eating cannot imagine eating one and not the other. The hits: the texture was mildly curdling and uniform. Usually you see a thick layer getting formed only on the top to form a crust of sorts, but not this time. The texture was absolute uniform and there wasn’t a single lump in the entire serving. Good stuff indeed.
Ratalyachi kheer: Ratala in Marathi is sweet potato. So this was a kheer made of sweet potato and dry fruits in condensed milk. The milk consistency was perfect with mild sweetness and apt thickness. The sweet potato added additional viscosity to the kheer and the dry fruits scattered the flavors to a much wide variety. #SimplySuperb
Kharwas: The next dessert we had was a rather very unique and less known, forget to be included in any of the fine dine places. Kharwas can be called a desi cheese cake made specifically from the thick high in fat content yellowish milk of the cow/ buffalo when they give birth to a calf. This milk is available for a very limited period and this is the core ingredient to make kharwas as it doesn’t taste the same with the ordinary milk available. The texture was purely gelatinous and the consistency was crisp. The kharwas was made mild sweet and everyone was quick to appreciate it. Very unique way to end on a sweet note.
Kharwas (Image courtesy: Monalisa (Belleydriven.com))
Kombdi dum pulao: A signature dish by Aditya wherein live coal is put inside the pulao container to infuse smoke and give it its unique taste. Desi style of making chicken biryani. The aroma was all enchanting and flavors were bursting as you unload a spoonful into your mouth. The recipe was pulao and hence on the mild side at large with little garnishing and friend onion add-ons.
After the first two masterpieces there were yet another two strong contenders that night which won the hearts hands down and they were none other than the very famous Tambda rassa and Pandhra Rassa.
Tambda Rassa: Fiery red in color this rasa was adequately spicy and made from a fine mixture of spices. The spices when used in excess or in the wrong proportion often make the dish very high in heat quotient but the spices were very well balanced in this recipe so it did justice to the recipe. Great efforts by Chef Aditya to perfect the recipe.
Pandhra Rassa: The toughest dish of the night and also the best amongst the ones on the table. The pandhra rassa was one such dish which you won’t get elsewhere. Due to commercialized approach the rassa that you get outside is a make shift dish which can be made with minimal efforts. The entire process of making is very tedious one but in the end you get nothing less than pure gold. Made with white pepper, cloves, cinnamon and other spices the rassa was super hit and one that should certainly make it to the menu of Momo2Go café. Now we were lucky to listen to the recipe but I insist for the actual recipe of this and 13 other rassa you buy a copy of Chef Aditya Mehendale’s book – ‘Real Gems’ .
We had an absolute homely, warm and flavorful meal with some very difficult and traditional recipes along with abundant food talks with fellow foodies. A special thanks to Arundhati and Nitin ji for having us invited to be a part of this legendary culinary fest, Mr. Abhijit Chitnis, GM Courtyard by Marriott hotel, Hinjawadi; who played the perfect host, Chef Vikram and his team who prepared these delicacies for us and last but not the least a big shout out for the man himself – the food enthusiast turned connoisseur turned chef Mr. Aditya Mehendale who was kind enough to share his experience and research done over years in perfecting these recipes and keeping the legacy alive in the form of passing on these original traditional recipes to the modern day consumers and chef’s alike.
The B Team with Chef Aditya and Chef Vikram & the foodies with the team Marriott and Aditya