6 Maharashtrian Curries To Explore The Diversity Of The Cuisine

Maharashtrian cuisine is as diverse as the state itself. As the third largest by area in the country, there are many distinct regions which make up Maharashtra’s culinary landscape and unfortunately, this means there are many dishes that go unnoticed. 

Curries are a staple of most Indian cuisines, and Maharashtra is no exception. Each region has its own favourites which showcase local crops and range from fiery hot to soothing comfort dishes. The Konkan region, tracing the Western coast, features a cuisine enriched with seafood. Moving inland to the Desh or Pashchim Maharashtra region, including Pune, Satara, and Kolhapur, historical legacies from the Maratha Empire echo in the cuisine. Kolhapuri dishes boast spices and game meat, while Pune, once home to the Brahmin Peshwas, leans towards abundant vegetarian fare. 

The northern Khandesh region exhibits culinary influences from Rajasthan, Deccan, Malwa, and Gujarat, adapting to the region's unique geographical challenges. Marathwada, with cities like Aurangabad and Latur, battles hot and arid climates, incorporating sun-drying techniques to preserve the limited fare. Vidarbha showcases a blend of sweet, spicy, and fried dishes influenced by the neighbouring cultures of Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, and Telangana with Saoji cuisine, renowned for its fiery and smoky flavours, hails from this region.

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If you’re looking to explore the wealth of Maharashtrian cuisine through curry, here are some unique examples.

1. Katachi Amti

Traditional Maharashtrian cuisine has many aspects of natural sustainability, for example in times when dal and gram for puran polis and curries were cooked for hours to soften, the remaining stock was always saved and repurposed into a dish of its own. Katachi Amti is one such dish made with a stock of cooked Bengal Gram and flavoured with spices and tamarind into a dark, rich curry that’s served with puran poli. It offers a delightful balance of tanginess and spiciness, making it a comfort dish in Maharashtrian cuisine.

2. Kulith Usal

Horse gram or Kulith is a staple of the Konkan kitchen and is a popular local lentil used in many dishes. When sprouted it’s used to make a uniquely Maharastrian dish called Kulith Usal which is simple but rich in flavour. The base of the usal is a mix of ground roasted peanuts with simple spices like chilli powder and garlic. It’s a protein-packed dish which has a robust taste and is often served with bhakri or rice, adding a wholesome touch to Maharashtrian meals.

3. Ansa-Phansachi Bhaaji

A Gaud Saraswat Brahmins (GSB) community special, this summer bhaaji is made on auspicious occasions and celebrates seasonal fruit of Maharashtra such as pineapple, mango and jackfruit. It’s mildly spiced with pepper, chilli and turmeric being the main players allowing the complexity of the fruit to shine through bringing a unique flavour to the dish. 

4. Tambda Rassa

A staple of Kolhapuri fare and full of flavour, this mutton curry is a fiery red speciality. Tambda Rassa is distinguished by the authentic kanda lasun masala, deriving its spicy essence from local chillies that impart the vibrant red hue. The quality of a fine tambda rassa is often discerned by the presence of a distinct layer of tarri, the spicy oil, gracefully floating atop the curry. There’s also a milder version called Pandhra Rassa which is white and primarily made with poppy seeds

5. Pithla

For many, this is a go-to comfort food and a staple for days when you need something simple and warm. Made with gram flour with a tadka of spices which vary from recipe to recipe. Some also add fried onion and drumsticks, but whichever way you prefer it, it’s designed for convenience with people using whatever they have on hand at the moment. It’s usually eaten with rice bhakri or jowar bhakri, creating a wholesome and satisfying meal that is enjoyed across the region.

6. Modak Aamti

Modaks are a staple of festive eats and seen at most major religious celebrations, but they can also serve as the base for a delicious curry. Savoury gram flour dumplings are stuffed with coconut and coriander and cooked in a mild coconut-led gravy, it’s a warm and comforting dish that is eaten across many regions of Maharashtra.