Five stars for local cuisine
From being a breakfast item to finding a special place in daily menus, Sunday brunches and high tea events, Maharashtrian cuisine is emerging as a favourite in five star hotels among locals as well as foreigners. The Guide finds out
Poha for breakfast, Bharleli Vangi at lunch, Kothimbir Wade as snacks and Kombdicha Rassa with Bhakri for dinner. If you look at the menu of the city’s five-star hotels, you would be surprised how Maharashtrian cuisine is increasingly finding a larger space in their menu. And it’s not just Punekars, even foreigners who seem to have failed to resist the magic of the local cuisine.
For example, the all-day diner
La Brasserie at Le Meridien Pune serves Poha every day as part of its breakfast buffet. Its night menu has local items like Pav Bhaji and Keema Pav, and is very popular among the city’s young party-goers, who walk in for a homely taste after a night of partying. Nadir Shaikh, executive chef, Le Meridien Pune says that in recent times, they have seen an increase in demand for local food both from locals as well as foreigners, and seeing this change in demand they now have a local chef who can prepare any dish on demand by the guests. “We have a lot of foreigners who want to try authentic local cuisine, and so we prepare local dishes for them on request. They are very enthusiastic to try local flavours and want to fully immerse themselves in the culture of Maharashtra,” he adds.
Traditionally, most Maharashtrian dishes were restricted to the breakfast menu, but they are now becoming a part of lunch, dinner as well as Sunday brunches and high-tea events as well, says Sameer Luthra, executive sous chef at Westin Koregaon Park. And so, the hotel has gone beyond Pav Bhaji and Misal Pav. “We now serve items like Sabudana Khichdi, Bharleli Vaangi, Pithla, Bhakri, and Adu-chi bhaaji as standard items,” he adds.
In some hotels like Vivanta by Taj, Blue Diamond, Maharashtrian dishes account for almost 35% of the total orders in a day. The hotel’s sous chef Pintu Mallick points out that despite the spice factor of Maharashtrian dishes, many foreigners like its unique taste. In fact, according the Mallick, the hotel gets the maximum number of requests for its Kolhapuri Chicken (infamous for spicyness) and Mitaki Usal on a daily basis, including from foreigners. “We make all our dishes traditionally without any changes in the recipe, yet most guests including Europeans don’t ask for any changes. They just prefer food with less green chilly,” he adds.
The popularity of Maharashtrian dishes have grown across all city hotels, from special requests by patrons to special suggestions by chefs, thanks to chefs like Aniruddha Limaye, executive Chef at Courtyard by Marriott Pune Hinjewadi, who makes it a point to recommend all guests to taste the regional flavours. “I strongly believe in promoting local dishes and recommend them to our patrons,” he says. In fact, the menu at the hotel's multi-cuisine diner, MoMo Café, says Limaye, is designed with indigenous dishes featuring specialties likeKombadicha Rassa, Aamti, Bhakri, Dal Khichadi, etc.
>> Westin, Koregaon Park.
>>Courtyard by Marriott Pune Hinjewadi, Hinjewadi.
>> Vivanta by Taj, Blue Diamond, Koregaon Park.
>> Le Meridien Pune, near Pune Railway station.
>>Four Points by Sheraton Hotel and Serviced Apartments, Viman Nagar.