Growing up in an urban, cosmopolitan city, it was common to hear stereotypical comments about regional cuisine. Mustard oil vs. coconut oil wars were commonplace even in school. When my world shifted to college and work, the stereotypes just got further reinforced. It would pain me greatly when people would say things like Maharashtrian food is “nothing but spice” or “nothing but coconut” or “nothing but Vada Pao-Misal Pao”. I’d always try to defend the cuisine by talking about the multilayered variety in the cuisine but because there were no commercial eateries that went beyond a handful of common dishes, my argument fell flat.
When I got married, I realized to my utter dismay that even my husband thought Maharashtrian food was “same old, same old” and most unappetizing to look at. I agree with him only in part—Bharli Vaangi can hardly be made to look like a Michelin star dish (or can it?) but Bharli Vaangi is anything but same old, same old! Just as dialects change every few kilometers in India, recipes change as well. A Bharli Vaangi made in Pune can never be the same as the Bharli Vaangi made in Jalgaon! And what about the Vaangi that traveled to Thanjavur and became Ras Vaangi?
The fact of the matter is, Maharashtrian cuisine is not a monolith. There are Many Maharashtras—and that is our theme for Diwali Pangat 2018. The idea is to show ourselves the misconceptions we have lived with, to discover what has always been right under noses. To bow down to the realization that what we consider unique about ourselves, is in fact, something that binds us to another.
In this issue, Soumitra Velkar and Avantika Bhuyan discover a common love for Shevla in their individual character sketches of the Pathare Prabhu and Chandraseniya Kayastha Prabhu cuisines. Shruti Nargundkar and Shashirekha Prakash trace the Marathi origins of Deccani and Thanjavur cuisines, while Saher Khanzada talks about the dying art of making Saravle, a Kokani Muslim pasta. Mugdha Karnik’s essay on Diwali celebrations among the Warli tribe moves you and makes you uncomfortable at once. Snehal Bansode-Sheludkar shares an encouraging account of how the government’s midday meal scheme is being implemented through various experimental methods in the smallest villages of Maharashtra.
In Part Two of his Pravaas series, Swapneel Prabhu places classic Maharashtrin dishes in a new lexicon and presents a very convincing argument, indeed. Manasi Holehonnur gives us a new subcategory to look forward to—food fiction–and Angat Pangat’s most loved poet, Suranga Date features in our new Poetry section.
Of course, we have several recipes—familiar and new—and a short selection of video readings. A very, very special thank you is due to Sayali Bhagali Damle, a visual artist par excellence, who has illustrated (at very short notice!) the special banner we proudly carry this year.
In 2015, when we set up the Angat Pangat Facebook group, the idea was to rediscover the various sub cuisines of the state and to understand it from a more holistic perspective. We hoped that the discussions on the group would demystify the food of the Marathi people and make it accessible to non-Marathi speaking members; and that we would discover the Many Maharashtras for ourselves.
Angat Pangat and Diwali Pangat continue to be run on the dedication and love of its members; we enjoy no sponsorship, and therefore, are unable to offer monetary compensation to the contributors of this magazine. Despite this, we are now a group of 34,000+ members and continue to grow every day. For this love, we are immensely grateful and deeply humbled. Here’s to another year of Angat Pangat!
Happy Diwali to you and yours from all of us.
For Team Angat Pangat,