Feast: Sumptuous and Simple
the most awaited tradition at a Maharashtrian Brahman wedding?
is wedding time and one of the most important aspects of that special
occasion is food. A Maharashtrian Brahmin wedding, be it simple as
it usually is or more elaborate, culminates in a feast.
After the sacred bond of marriage is made fast with the holy fire
as divine witness, guests are invited by the relatives of the newly
wedded couple to sit down and partake in the sumptuous yet very simple
fare, a delight of tradition preserved through the ages, surviving
the whims of contemporary lifestyles and concepts.
cooked in coconut based gravy
potatoes, pumpkins, carrots
green mango chutney
of cucumber and peanuts
Since the auspicious time or muhurta usually occurs in the morning, as
defined by astrology and the pundits, the wedding feast is generally a
lunch. Guests are made welcome into the venue of the meal and invited
to sit downon the floor, as is traditional, or else at tables for the
more contemporary minded. The food is served up on freshly washed banana
leaves, placed face-up in front of chatais or wooden planks on which people
are seated. The meal is conventionally vegetarian and onion and garlic
are not used in the cooking. Each dish is distinct in taste and appearance
and no flavours are extreme or disharmonious. It is almost as if the stomach,
too, rejoices in the celebration!
is a staple, served white, hot and fragrant, with a dollop of freshly
made ghee melting into its heap on the banana leaf. By its side and augmenting
its starchiness are puris golden, puffed into spheres and flaky, releasing
their little pockets of steam when broken open. Accompanying these staples
are vegetables cooked in coconu based gravy beans, yams, potatoes, pumpkins,
carrots and more. A sunny yellow dal, or varan, is mixed into the rice
or scooped up with the puris; it is deliciously seasoned with the hot
oil and spices of the tadka, poured sputtering into it just before serving
(in fact, varan bhaat, or dal and rice, is a favourite everyday food in
most Maharashtrian homes). Keeping company with these main dishes on the
leaf is a spicy green mango chutney, made just before it is spooned out
and a crunchy salad of cucumber and peanuts a staple crop in the arid
plateau region of the state.
is an essential part of any wedding feast and a Maharashtrian celebratory
meal includes a sampling of some of India's favourite sweets: most often,
Basundi, Jalebi or Shrikhand. The Basundi, made of thickened milk, is
creamy and soft, sliding down the throat with a delightful sweetness.
Jalebis crisp tangles of deep-fried dough soaked in sugar syrup are usually
rose scented and wonderful eaten hot, straight off the fire.
Shrikhand, made of thick yogurt beaten with saffron and sugar,sometimes
with almonds andpistachio
nuts added, is refreshingly cold and tart; in some homes, it is eaten
To wash down this culinary experience is a drink called Mattha. It is
an essentially Maharashtrian style of buttermilk, flavoured with coriander
leaves and salt and served chilled in tall metal glasses. The wedding
feast ends with a sweet paan, or vida, which consists of betel leaves
wrapped around betel nuts, spices and sugar. It cleanses the palate and
begins the digestive process. It also signifies the sealing of the newly
formed bond between two individuals and, indeed, two families, blessed
by all those who have participated in the celebration of the marriage.