Traditional Maharashtrian Meal

Today I am posting some recipes from Maharashtra. Every day this month I will post a recipe from a different state in India.

Maharashtra, more specifically the Konkan region, is the place my family originally comes from. Three or four generations ago my family moved and eventually settled in Pune, Nashik, Mumbai and nearby cities. I did not grow up in Maharashtra but I have always considered myself a Maharashtrain. I cook Maharashtrian (Puneri) food regularly. I also dabble in Maharashtrian tribal artwork. Warli is the very well known folk art from Maharashtra. It features dancing or working people along with their tools and their cattle. The art has a flowing moving aspect to it that makes it very attractive.

Maharashtra is a large state and food varies with region and class as in the rest of India. My association with Maharashtra has been mainly confined to the north western region of the state. Last fall my father on my request brought me a book of traditional Marathi recipes first published in the 1960s. It has among other things instructions on how to use the stone grinder (pata varvanta). I wanted the book to look at age old Maharashtrian recipes. Some are these are popular today but some have been completely forgotten.

A unique chivda chutney in the book made me want to plan a meal around it. I have made a traditional Maharashtrian thali before. This time all I wanted to do was to make dishes that go well with each other as a meal. There is no onion, ginger or garlic in this meal. Except for the chutney the rest of the dishes are on my regular rotation.

A Maharashtrian meal generally starts with dal/waran/sada waran with rice. The next course is poli or chapati. The last course is yogurt or buttermilk with rice. Unlike as is done in South India the yogurt is mixed with the rice once it is on your plate. In my house rice is always optional and rarely cooked. Here is the simple Maharashtrian meal.

The menu
Chivda Chutney
Maharashtrian chutney is made with vegetables, dals, fruit etc. Green chili pepper is added for heat. If needed tamarind or lime juice is added for tartness and jaggery is added as the sweet flavor. Other variations of chutney are dangar and chatka. Chivda chutney is a crisp roasted chutney with chivda like texture. It is made of peanuts, sesame seeds and coconut. The only other ingredients are green chili pepper and salt.

Tikhat Gajar Pachadi (Savory carrot salad)
Pachadi is a salad that can be made with a variety of vegetables or fuit. Sometimes one or more vegetables are used. Here is Khamang Kakadi which is a cucumber pachadi. Similarly radish, tomatoes etc. can be used to make pachadi. Unlike a Koshimbir a pachidi does not contain yogurt. Here is an example of beetroot koshimbir made with yogurt. Pachadi contains raw vegetables seasoned with salt, paprika, sugar and lime juice. Tamarind or jaggery is never added to a pachadi.

Kothimbir wadi (cilantro cubes)
Cilantro in my opinion is a very dainty green and has a wonderful flavor. Here is it mixed with besan and sweet and tangy ingredients, steamed and then tempered. Cabbage wadi can also be prepared in exactly the same way. This dish is classified as bhaji or a side as opposed to aluwadi which is classified as a condiment. The basic Maharashtrian tempering used in sides consists of oil, mustard seeds, asafoetida (a pinch) and turmeric. Some sides call for cumin seeds instead of mustard seeds. For fasting foods only oil and cumin seeds are used.

Panchmel daliche waran (five dal waran)
Ambti and waran are the two common dal preparations. Unlike ambti the phodni (tempering) for waran is added at the end of the cooking period. Instead of adding dal to the tempered oil the oil is poured over the top of the dal. Sada waran is dal without tempering. You can see it poured over the rice in this Maharashtrian Thali. Another difference is that ambti, as the name suggests, has a sour ingredient like kokum or tamarind added to it while waran does not. Typically lime juice (always on the plate) is added to the waran by the person eating it, if and when they need it. I have made a simple waran with five different dals - tur, mung, channa, masoor and urad.

Bajri and Nachni Dhirdi
Poli (chapati) or jwari/bajri bhakari is common in Maharashtrian households. There are several other alternatives. You could make stuffed chapati, sweet chapati (puran poli or gul poli), dashmi (chapati with milk instead of water), gakar, thalipeet or dhirdi. Dhirdi is a crepe that can be made with any flour you may have on hand like this wheat flour dhirdi. Today I used Bajri (pearl millet) and Nachni (finger millet) flours.

My goal was to create a simple meal to showcase the different foods on an everyday dinner plate. I realize I left out a very wide variety of foods like rice, usal, palebhaji, golabhaji or a dessert. But that is the beauty if cooking. The variety is endless.


  1. Varada as of now I have given a quick but sharp look at the recipes...but will come back when I need to work on them...wonderful job and some new recipes for me!

  2. Book from the 60's - wow that would be a treasure... Love the chivda chutney - never even heard of it... the old books will have such beautiful recipes... thanks for sharing

  3. Thats traditional meal looks wholesome,filling and healthy as well.. That dal looks soo thick and very comforting while the chutney is asking me to make some.

  4. Perfect traditional platter....... Mouthwatering recipes!!

  5. Love the traditional spread, Varada.

  6. Awesome looking thali. This BM is bring out so many delicious thalis...

  7. When you had said thali I had a quick look and enjoyed it when you posted Varada, back now to read it in detail..:)..very nice efforts to showcase dishes that are not cooked regularly now...that book must be such a treasure...though I have read so much abt maharashtrian thali, I am yet to cook an elaborate one myself..very nicely done..btw even in south, in regular days, curds is mixed with the rice once it is on the plate only..the mixed curd rice is mostly made on special occasions, for travelling or as packed food..Nice to know so many similarities among the cuisines and food habit..:)..thanks for the efforts..

  8. wonderful wholesome meal.. loved the detailed description of every dish. i love worli art on my clothes.. it's very pretty

  9. Thank you for posting about the everyday Maharashtrian thali. Looks simple, filling, comforting and absolutely delicious.

  10. what abeautiful and informative post

  11. Wonderful looking traditional spread,awesome Varada..

  12. When you said thali and the pic showed what I guessed as Dhirdi I was confused. When I read the post I am say that you have really showcase Maharashtra perferctly.

  13. What a lovely spread Varada! Reading through all these posts highlights so many similarities between the states. The old recipe books are a treasure and blogging about the recipes is a wonderful way to preserve it for the next generation!

  14. Traditional Maharashtrian meal looks delicious. I am glad your father was able to get hold of that old cookbook and am sure it had many traditional recipes that have long been forgotten. Thanks for sharing this thali.

  15. That chivda cutney is interesting.I ahve checked out the previous posts related to this state and the whole platter is simple and inviting.

  16. The meal looks so good Varada. Yes, the traditional dishes are now fading and good that you got that book. I have to try that Chivda chutney.Sounds interesting...

  17. omg thats a fabulous spread and you bought whole maharastrian traditional dishes in this spread :) hats off to your efforts, all the dishes looks very tempting :) chivda chutney sounds very very interesting to me :)


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