Kolhapur, a city in the Indian state of Maharashtra, boasts a rich and distinctive culinary heritage that reflects the vibrant culture of the region. Known for its bold and robust flavours, Kolhapuri cuisine is celebrated for its fiery spiciness and an array of delectable dishes. Here are 8 you should know.
Contrary to how it may appear, Maharashtra is not one singular homogeneous state. Within the boundaries of Maharashtra is a diverse landscape of traditions, each with their own culinary peculiarities. Whether it’s the seafood of the Konkan coast, or the fiery flavours of Khandeshi cuisine, there’s more to it than meets the eye.
Kolhapur, a city in the Indian state of Maharashtra lies in the ‘Desh’ region of Maharashtra which refers to the Deccan Plateau and boasts a rich and distinctive culinary heritage that reflects the vibrant culture of the region. It served as the centre of the Maratha empire and still retains a lot of flavours from that regal past.
The cuisine is known for its bold and robust flavours and is characterised by a sophisticated use of spice. It also used to be a hub for game meat and it still has a number of iconic meat dishes to this day. This cuisine has earned a special place in the hearts of food enthusiasts, both within Maharashtra and beyond, and there are a few iconic dishes which you can’t miss out on while you’re there.
Video Credits: Madhuras Recipe/YouTube
8 Famous Dishes To Try In Kolhapur
1. Tambda Rassa:
No visit to Kolhapur would be complete without trying this spicy, aromatic mutton dish. Tambda Rassa is known for its rich, fiery red hue and bold spicy flavours. It’s characterised by the traditional kanda lasun masala and has a spicy kick from the local chillies which give it its colour. You can tell a good tambda rassa by the layer of tarri (spicy oil) floating on top.
2. Pandra Rassa:
If you have Tambda Rassa, the only logical partner is Pandra Rassa. While Tambda Rassa is known for its fiery red spiciness, Pandra Rassa stands out with its white or pale colour. This curry is made with similar spices but doesn't feature red chillies. Instead, it includes ingredients like coconut, poppy seeds to impart its signature flavour. It's milder in spice but equally delicious and popular in the region.
3. Kat Vada:
Kolhapur is well known for its oversized potato vadas and Kat Vada is a popular street food that combines the batata vada with a spicy gravy called ‘Kat’. Flavour-wise, Kat is similar to the spicy gravy you’ll see in the misal dishes, but without the addition of sprouts or usal. The vada tends to soak up all the spicy flavours of the gravy making for a delicious treat.
4. Mutton Lonche:
Who says all pickles are vegetarian? This traditional Maharashtrian pickle is made with succulent pieces of mutton or goat meat. These pieces are marinated in a flavorful mix of spices, including mustard seeds, fenugreek, and garlic. The result is a tangy and spicy pickle that's a wonderful accompaniment to rice or bread. It's a delightful blend of textures and tastes.
5. Doodh Saar:
A special dish from the Radhanagari district, this is a comforting Maharashtrian dish made from milk and spices. It's somewhat similar to a spiced, savoury milk soup. The dish includes ingredients like cumin seeds, green chillies, and curry leaves, lending it a subtle spiciness and a fragrant aroma. Doodh Saar is soothing, especially when served hot, and is usually eaten with rice or bread.
6. Bhadang Bhel:
Bhel is loved in different forms all over the country. In Kolhapur, it’s made with the regular additions of puffed rice, onions, tomatoes, coriander, peanuts, and a medley of spices. What sets it apart is the addition of chilli powder. This snack is an absolute crowd-pleaser.
Video Credits: Radhanagari Wildlife Sanctuary/YouTube
7. Kolhapuri Misal:
While Misal is well-known all over Maharashtra, the Kohlapuri version offers some distinct differences from its Puneri counterpart. Kolhapuri misal is generally fiery and packs a punch. It is made using the Kolhapuri kanda-lasun masala, which comprises dried red chillies, dry coconut or khopra and a bunch of flavourful whole spices as well as moong dal and sev to finish.
8. Kolhapuri Chicken:
An emblematic dish of the region, this dish is characterised by its rich and spicy tomato-based gravy, infused with a potent blend of red chillies and aromatic spices. It's a dish that packs a punch in terms of flavour and heat, making it a popular choice among those who appreciate robust, spicy cuisine. It can also be made into a vegetarian version which is just as popular.