Spice Of Kolhapur by Roopa Nabar
On Sunday Roopa Nabar had her first popup.While she is a Home Chef,she had the event in a restaurant (Hoppipola at Khar) and she catered to a large number of people than she would have at home.Maharashtrian food too found a new platform.
My exposure to Kolhapuri food was first at Purepur Kolhapur at Prabhadevi.The spice level was way better than I had expected! Then again Aditya Mehendale,the author of Rare Gems,demonstrated Kolhapuri cuisine cooking at A Perfect Bite Cook Studio at the Maharashtrian Food Event at the Culinary Legacy series organized by Rushina Munshaw Ghildiyal.His book has a chapter on the intricacies of Kolhapuri food.Then Smita Hegde Deo wrote a beautiful book "Karwar to Kolhapur to Mumbai" and had some astounding dishes at her popup at the same studio.
So when Roopa Nabar said she is having a Kolhapuri food pop-up,I was more than happy to try it again.Yes,there really is so much variety to Maharashtrian cuisine.A lot has to do with the climatic conditions and location of the place of origin.Kolhapur being in the interior,on the Sahyadri mountain range, in the South of Maharashtra is known for its meat dishes and spicy food.The altitude and grass feeding is probably the reason why the quality of milk and meat produce here is way better than other places.The Pune-Kolhapur expressway is a joy to drive on as it has sugarcane fields on both sides.This is also why one sees jaggery in their cuisine and something we had in our childhood....Kakvi (liquid jaggery).One can get chilled sugarcane juice at Kolhapur.
The cheerful and bubbly Roopa gave a small talk at the outset explaining how stock formed the basis of this type of Indian cooking.The Tambda (red) and Pandhra (white) Rassa are well known symbols of Kolhapuri cuisine.The Pandhra Rassa which looks mild,actually isn't as Roopa's version showed.Made of coconut milk,ginger,garlic,poppy seeds and cinnamon,this has a kick thanks to the addition of chillies.Additional chillies make this into Tambda Rassa,not for the faint-hearted! Good thing there was extra water on the table :D Roopa used both,the milder Bedgi chillies and spicy as hell Lavangi mirchi,making it more acceptable by city folk.Milk and curds are commonly had to temper down this spiciness.Roopa even talked of a dessert with ice-cream and milk for the same purpose.Two spicy snacks famous at Kolhapur are the Kolhapuri Misal (moth bean gravy with farsan) and the Kolhapuri Bhel (Bhadang)
The star of the meal was an unusual dish called Goli Bhaat.This had minced meat balls in a pulao studded with peppercorns,each mouthful a delight!
The robust Sukha Mutton was made with the typical Kolhapuri Masala....the Kanda Lasun masala which had roasted onion,garlic and coconut.This masala was also used in Goli Bhaat.
Having travelled to Kolhapur earlier,I have had another typical dish,the Mutton Loncha (pickled mutton)This dish has its origin from the time when refrigeration did not exist.
Lest you think there were no veg dishes,Roopa had made Matkichi Usal (Sprouts) and Bharli Vangi (stuffed Brinjal) also.There was Sol Kadi as an appetizer cum digestive,made of the souring agent kokum and coconut milk.Other popular dishes are Methichi Bhaaji and Penpala (made of the lentil masoor)
Roopa cooks all kinds of cuisine.She is truly gifted at it.Her cooking is exemplary!She gets the spice levels just right!While she is a Saraswat,she chose this cuisine as her husband belongs to Kolhapur and she learnt the dishes from her mother in law who was an outstanding cook.Roopa (a.k.a Coastal Kitchen) has made several You Tube videos as she loves to teach.She also conducts classes at Sanjeev Kapoor's culinary kitchen and writes recipes for cancer patients for "Cope With Cancer".While she was a microbiologist earlier,she is now completely into food.She loves feeding people.Two words she uses to describe Kolhapuri food....Tikhat and Zanzanit