This book collates the traditions, rituals and cuisine of the Thanjavur Maharastrian community

Jaishri P Rao paperwork the 350 years’ previous wealthy culinary and cultural heritage of the Thanjavur Maharashtrian community

Jaishri P Rao has spent over a decade gathering info on the traditions, rituals and cuisine of the Maharashtrians settled in Thanjavur.

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Her preliminary thought was to carry out a booklet for the community, however the info proved too voluminous. The outcome of her analysis has now been printed as Classic Cuisine and Celebrations of the Thanjavur Maharashtrians.

This book collates the traditions, rituals and cuisine of the Thanjavur Maharastrian community

Culture throughout the pages

Chennai-based Jaishri took up this process after her elder son was employed abroad and youthful one joined college. “The Thanjavur Maharashtrian diaspora is spread across the globe, and assuming that both my sons would one day leave the country, I wished to preserve our community’s unique cooking traditions and cultural heritage for the next generation,” says Jaishri.

The book options over 150 recipes, many of that are provided as naivedya (prayer choices) throughout festivals, in addition to on a regular basis dishes and delicacies.

As festivals and spiritual rituals are a quintessential half of Maharashtrian tradition, the writer has structured the book chronologically, beginning with the competition of Gudi Padwa in the month of Chaithra (March/April) and ending with the competition of Shimga Puneva (Holi) that falls in the month of Phalgun (February/March).

“As the community follows all rituals and celebrates festivals with fervour, I decided to follow this structure, where I mention the festival, talk about the rituals involved, and the dishes associated with a particular celebration,” says Jaishri.

This book collates the traditions, rituals and cuisine of the Thanjavur Maharastrian community

In the part on Gudi Padwa, she lists staple heritage dishes similar to puran poli, chinch bhath (tamarind rice), limbacha bhath (lemon rice), vaangi bhath (brinjal rice), ambode (a deep-fried spicy snack made with dal), pitla (combined veg and lentil curry cooked in tamarind water), kadi (buttermilk-based curry) and different recipes.

Timely evolution

Over three centuries, the Thanjavur Maharashtrians have additionally created new dishes, influenced by the Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Karnataka cuisines. “Pitla and daangar (urad dal flour blended with curd) are typical Thanjavur Maharashtrian dishes, evolved over a period of time.

“Early migrants also replaced certain ingredients with locally available ones. For example, copra (dried coconut) is widely used in many Maharashtrian dishes, but in our community freshly grated coconut is roasted and then used to get the copra taste,” she says.

Coriander seeds, cumin and coconut are the dominant spices used on this cuisine. “ We use numerous spice powders toasted in a minimal quantity of oil to flavour the dishes.

This book collates the traditions, rituals and cuisine of the Thanjavur Maharastrian community

The simplicity of preparation with an excellent steadiness of spices is the hallmark of Thanjavur Maharashtrian cuisine,” says Jaishri.

A traditional mixture is ambat bhaaji, daangar and kaatracha misiringa (mor molaga Thanjavur fashion). “Ambat bhaaji is a signature dish of our community. This spinach sambar is prepared with a liberal amount of toor dal, spiced with green chillies and seasoned with mustard, dry chillies and fenugreek. In sweets, puran poli, doodh poli and besan ladoo top the list.”

Methkoot and daangar are typical examples of the protein-rich eating regimen of this diaspora. Methkoot is a powder made utilizing a mixture of lentils similar to toor, channa, moong and urad. Coriander, cumin and dry ginger are used to flavour this powder, which can be utilized in a number of methods as an accompaniment and even combined with curd or tamarind water.

“The book has been well received by the diaspora, especially the younger generation, and it has also won the Best Vegetarian Cuisine Book in the World Award by Gourmand International for the year 2020,” says Jaishri.

The book and Kindle variations can be found on Amazon.

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