Not much is known in the UK about Maharashtrian cuisine and the amazing array of dishes it offers. It’s such an integral part of Indian culture and of course the city of Mumbai and something I have grown up eating. I hail from a Maharashtrian family and have been fortunate enough to sample the gorgeous vegetarian fare, coastal delights all the way to the rustic meaty flavours as part of our daily diet.
The food is earthy, flavoursome yet light utterly sublime; with coastal influence, fresh seafood, clams & cockles including the rural regions of the state of Maharashtra offering meat, chicken and at times even game as part of the curry culture.
Vegetarian food is a mix of breakfast options, quite snacks and also part of what we call street food across cities. If you want a true taste of Maharashtrian fare (apart from at my home in India of course!) visiting parts of Sindhudurg, Kolhapur, Pune, Nasik, Nanded, Solapur and Nagpur are a must.
Tomato Saar is one such dish that was a regular spicy soup made at home and restaurants. Commonly slurped just on its own or as we do with some steamed rice on the side. The soup is light and a perfect summer accompaniment as part of the meal. Lightly spiced with cumin, curry leaves and dried red chillies for that smoky flavour.
1 tsp mild chilli powder
2 tbsp vegetable oil
Pinch of asafoetida
1 tsp mustard seeds
1 dried kashmiri red chilli (or any mild red chilli)
8-10 curry leaves
Pinch of sugar
Salt to taste
For the coconut paste;
60gms freshly grated coconut (available frozen from asian stores or you can even use desiccated coconut)
1 tsp cumin seeds
3 cloves of garlic peeled
1 tsp mild chilli powder
Add the tomatoes to sauce pan with 400mls water. Scour an X at the bottom of the tomato with a knife and blanch for 10-12 mins in boiling water. Set aside to cool slightly. Save 300mls of the boiling water to add later.
Add all the coconut paste ingredients to a blender and add little water to form a thick paste. Set the paste aside. Skin the tomato and add to a blender along with the chilli powder.
Heat a tablespoon of oil in a sauce pan add the coconut paste and fry for a minute. Add the pureed tomato and stir to mix well. Add the water, sugar and salt to season. Bring to a boil and simmer for a couple of minutes. Turn the heat off and set aside.
Just before serving heat a frying pan and add a tablespoon of oil. Add the asafoetida cooking for a couple of seconds add the mustard seeds and as they begin to splutter add the dried chilli and fry for 2-3 seconds. Add the curry leaves and turn the heat off. Pour this flavoured oil over the tomato soup and serve. Enjoy the tomato soup (or phodnicha tomato saar as we call it!) warm just on its own or with some rice.