Tuesday, November 06, 2012

Shaleychya Dabyaala Kaai Baai Deu?

- By Deepa Krishnan

Sometimes you spot something in a bazaar and an entire culture comes alive in a tiny little flash of insight.

I was walking along Ranade Road last week; and as usual the market was full of Marathi-speaking women, shopping for vegetables, spices, fruits and other daily needs items. 

In the middle of the market was a tiny wooden stall, selling recipe books in Marathi. I stopped to read the titles and found myself immediately charmed. It was like a little glimpse into the hearts and minds of the women who come to this market. 
Bookstall on Ranade Road, with recipe books in Marathi
The first thing that caught my eye was Shaleychya Dabyaala Kaai Bai Deu? (Oh what shall I send for a school-break snack?). The eternal question of all mothers - what to feed picky school going kids! I can't tell you how wonderfully sing-song and melodious the title of the book sounds in Marathi, in fact it reminds me of a popular movie song. And also, in Marathi this question is addressed to another woman (the Baai in the title), creating a sort of sisterhood of dabba-senders. Sweet!

The next book I saw was Kaanda vuh Bataateychey Ruchkar Padaarth (Tasty dishes using onions and potatoes). Ha! Only in Maharashtra would you find a book with onions and potatoes as the heroes! You see, Maharashtra single-handedly produces more than 30% of India's entire onion crop. Naturally it is liberally used in the cuisine. Potatoes are also grown in Maharashtra, although it is not the star producer. 

But hey - star producer or not - it is Maharashtra that invented the vada-pav, the most divine way to eat potatoes. And let's not forget bhaji-pav and kanda-bhaji (all three are in the photo below, with some palak bhaji thrown in for good measure!).
God bless the vada-pav vendors of Mumbai :)
May they live long and prosper!
Since we're on the subject of potatoes, I'll come right out and say it: the Maharashtrian poori-ani-batate-chi-bhaaji is wayyyyyyy better for breakfast than the garam-masalaed aloo-sabzis of North India. Who wants to eat complicated garam masalas for breakfast, for god's sake! 
Reaching for crisp puris at Prakash.
The batate-chi  bhaaji waits for a judicious squeeze of lime.
At the bookstall, I also saw what looked like a popular series of books, they all had "61" in the title. 61 Khas Marathmole Padarth (61 Special Marathi traditional dishes), and 61 Laadu Vadya aani Faraalachey Padarth (61 Ways to Make Ladu, Vada and Faraal). 

Faraal is a generic term which covers a whole bunch of snacks. With Diwali around the corner, I suspect this book will be in hot demand. In Maharashtra, faraal includes things like Pohyancha Chiwda (made with rice-flakes and peanuts), Shev, Kadboli (which is similar to the Karanataka kod-bale), Chakli, Shankarpali, Karanji and so on. Some other time, I will post an article on some of these. But Amarendra's blog has a great photo of a wide selection of typical Maharashtrian faraal and laadu, and I am sure this "61" book I saw had recipes for all of these. I'm not sure what the one in the centre is, so if someone knows, I hope you'll leave a comment for me.
For the thinking woman, the bookstall had Rojchya Vaprateel Khadyapadarthache Aushadhi Gunadharma v tyachya pak-kruti - The Medicinal properties of ingredients in daily food and how to prepare them. And Hirvegaar ruchak padarth - Green tasty dishes (for those who want to give their children some healthy options)!

Another set of books I saw was the Khushkhusheet Series:
Khuskhusheet Thaalipeeth -  Crispy Thalipeeth
Khuskhusheet Bhaji -  Crispy Bhaji (the deep-fried variety)
And I'm sure they probably had more of these. Now khushkhusheet is a word that's impossible to translate into English. Although what I have used is Crispy, really, it's part-soft-part-crispy. If you've eaten thalipeeth you'll know what I mean. 

I came away from the little stall, not knowing what to buy. Everything looked so interesting, offering me glimpses into a totally different world. I didn't have time to "stand and stare" and flip through all the books. But I'll head back sometime soon. I think that faraal book is calling out to me!


Anuradha Shankar said...

that first book will surely be a blessing for me!!! of course i have to brush up my marathi to read it, so maybe i shd look for an english version :D lovely post on something i have probably passed numerous times, but never noticed!

Haddock said...

The last picture reminds me of the Diwali season and Mrs Kelkar (our neighbour when I was in school)

Anonymous said...

Oh my, reading this blog and the wonderful food posts about vada pav, etc., here in Toronto, Canada, makes me so nostalgic and miss my home city so much. Love all your posts!

Ananva said...

the one in the center that has a net-like appearance is called anarsa- made out of fermented rice dough.

Deepa Krishnan said...

Thanks Ananva!