Celebrating Pathare Prabhu Cuisine
Celebrated the Thanksgiving Weekend in the company of friends,new and old.Friends connected through the bond of good food for whom I am grateful :) There wasn't a better way to do that then with a Pathare Prabhu meal.It was Bimba Nayak who first told me all about the community,one that is known for being progressive,strongly believing in the equality of women,education of women and adapting their habits to the environment.You will find like all other communities,people are marrying out but they continue to cherish their traditions and share them with everyone.They are nicknamed Sokajis as they celebrate life
Called my gourmet friends over to Soumitra Velkar's place who hosted us via Meal Tango.It's a website that connects you to people who welcome you for food at their home,all over the world.Soumitra,his wife Manju and mother Surabhee Velkar left no stone unturned to lay down a feast for the kings.
Was thrilled to bits to have two Pathare Prabhu friends join us....Kunal Vijayakar and Rahul Velkar.Kunal,of course you know,from The Foodie on Times Now and The Week That Wasn't on CNN-IBN.He also cooks Pathare Prabhu food and demonstrated it on his show some years back,calling it minimalistic cuisine.Kunal is launching his recipe book "Made In India" on January 1st 2015.It will be based on his travels on The Foodie show
Rahul Velkar is as passionate a foodie and is Kunal's cousin.Turns out he and Soumitra are related,which they discovered at the party.Rahul runs the popular Chinese chain Mr Chow and also runs Velkar Farms on the outskirts of Mumbai.
Kurush Dalal,archaeologist and caterer like his mother Katy Dalal,told us snippets about Pathare Prabhus.He had just given a lecture on the Archaeology of Food at the Perfect Bite Cooking Studio and was bursting with information :D.
His wife Rhea Mitra Dalal has blogged beautifully about our lunch.
Kalyan Karmakar,winner of this year's Best Food Blogger at the Food Bloggers Association Of India,had been bowled over by Bimba's food and was ready for more.So also his lovely wife Kainaz and our friend Subhasree who writes Bonny Can Cook,for whom this was the first time.
For starters there was the Kolambi Pie,a prawn version of Shepherd's Pie.Baking is one of the techniques that Pathare Prabhus have adopted from the West.
Another baked item was the Bhanola made of cabbage,prawns and gram flour and the Kheemachya Shingdya made of minced meat.
Bangals (type of Bengalis,the other being Gothis) love fermented food.Soumitra's Radish Salad topped with Dry Fish was promptly grabbed by my feline loving friend Subhasree.I stirred clear....I know I will do the same with Swedish Fermented Herrings, Surstromming
The starters and conversation flowed
Soon it was time for the mains and there were many....
A stunning curry with Bombay Ducks called Methkutiche Bombil.I know of Methkut used in vegetarian Maharashtrian Brahmin cuisine and it is made up of urad dal,chana dal,rice,wheat and other spices such as chillies and mustard seeds and is had with hot rice.Here it is a spice powder close to the Parbhi Sambhar masala made of red chilli,methi,hing and mustard seeds
Prawns Khadkhadle,a dish named after the rhythmic sound the shells make,whether its prawns or crabs when being cooked.Shaken not stirred!
and Gode Mutton which was served with Pao.Pathare Prabhus also bake their own Bread and Khakra(as Rahul Velkar pointed out).Surprisingly they have the Pav with Mango juice during summer!
Fish is a predominant part of Pathare Prabhu cuisine but meat too features.Picnic Mutton is a dish I heard about at the Upper Crust show where Kunal Vijayakar demonstrated its cooking.I was surprised to hear that "Sambhar masala" was an ingredient,not knowing it was different from the one from the South.Kunal mentioned that it was available at Kutumb Sakhi
The Pineapple Curry (Ananas Sambhare) was delicious
An unusual dish that featured on our meal was the Katyache Bhuzne.....made of the spinal cord of the Ghol fish,a dish my grandmother loved.Though we are from a different Maharashtrian community,some dishes are in common.Bhuzne is a stew made with cold spices and no fodni (tadka)
The Ghol held Rhea in raptures :D
Soumitra showed us a copy of Shree Gruhani Mitra,a vintage Pathare Prabhu cookbook.He gifted us the Parbhi Sambhar masala.The word Prabhus comes from the word "King" or owner as the community was well known for owning huge properties in the city.Sambhare means spices in equal proportion and it contains coriander seeds,cumin seeds,pepper,cloves,cinnamon and nagkesar (cassia buds)
Jolly glad there was a way to try this cuisine even though there are no restaurants serving this food in Mumbai.Ironically it is available in some London restaurants,thanks to Manoj Vasaikar.Time someone introduced it here!! Anyone listening???