What is your fondest childhood memory?
Whenever I think about my childhood, I go back to all the wonderful vacations my sister and I took at our Aaji’s home in Solapur. Life was much simpler then. We’d fight and sing and learn to make rangoli and drool over the delectable dishes Aaji would rustle up. These bouts of nostalgia still take us back to a place of pure, unadulterated joy. My sister and I try to reinvent these bygone days by cooking up Aaji’s best recipes, in particular the festive ones. Here are some of our favourite festive treats from Aaji’s kitchen –
Nothing quite beats the soft, sweet flavours that burst forth from a warm Puran Poli. My Aaji experimented with the stuffing, but the traditional coconut and kaakvi jaggery have always been our favourites. Puran poli is best served warm with a dollop of ghee on top.
Sabudana khichdi is undoubtedly the best Maharashtrian food and a favourite breakfast dish in most households. On festive days it is one of the must-haves, particularly if you are avoiding rice or wheat. The best sabudana khichdi is where the sago pearls stand out and blend perfectly with boiled potatoes and roasted peanuts.
One Maharashtrian dish that people outside the state love is the Batata Vada. My sister and I call it alu vada. This snack is cooked differently in different households. This is because the potato filling is cooked with distinct spices. These days my favourite spice mix is Aazol Food’s All-In-1 Deshi Ghaati Masala. Just a pinch, and the potato filling is spicy and tangy at the same time. This deep-fried vada is best served with homemade chutney.
During some festivals, my Aaji used to fast. While this meant that no major meals would be cooked, it also meant that the kids could gorge on Misal Pav! The crunchy sprouts in tangy gravy served with toasted pav buns are just what we loved.
Amti, the humble dal, becomes the hero on festive days. This is because no festive feast is complete without the yellow amti. My Aaji would always use yellow gram dal and add a touch of Goda masala to elevate it. I buy my Indriyani rice online, and even as I do, I dream of a simple meal of steamed rice, amti, and pickle. Delicious!
Pithle or Pithale is the soul food of every Maharashtrian. The horse gram flour (kuleeth peeth) gravy made with freshly scraped coconut and tempering is just what you need to settle the unrest in your soul on festive days. To get the perfect bowl of Pithale, use a good quality Kuleeth Peeth like the one available at Aazol Foods.