Maharashtrian Food Festival at Saptami, Holiday Inn Mumbai

As their tagline goes… “The regal heritage of Maharashtrian cuisine awaits you…” couldn’t be more true. I honestly did not expect the variety that came my way in the form of a massive buffet spread that spelt tradition in every bite.

An array of options for vegetarians as well as non-vegetarians, the true taste of Maharashtrian delicacies can be experienced right here at Saptami, Holiday Inn.

I had the lovely opportunity to check it out on Maharashtra Day but since the festival is on till the 12th of May, there’s enough time for anyone who is interested.

What really got my attention was the fact that some preparations were rich and wholesome, the kind you’d find when there’s a celebration around… as well as the beautiful gharelu style of preparations that make for the perfect maa ke haath ka khana sort of flavours.

From popular favourites like Misal Pav to the not so popularly available Kombdi Wade, there’s enough and more to explore. What I did miss seeing was some good ol’ aamras on the menu. Considering it’s the peak of mango season and Ratnagiri mangoes couldn’t be more in demand, I really wish they had some for us to savour. Nevertheless, the chef was kind enough to send some freshly sliced mangoes on our table.

We started off our meal with a glass of homely Solkadhi (made with coconut milk and kokum). Personally, I’m not that fond of this preparation… but for those who love it, will love it. It’s an acquired taste for sure!

Now back to what I’d say we made a massive meal of…

One of my favourite styles of roti, the Tandlachi Bhaakri (rotis made with rice flour), the combination of this with one of the many spicy curries is a match made in Marathi heaven!

If you’re into the whole rustic rice experience, the ukadi tandra cha bhat (traditional boiled red rice) is perfect. Pour some Chanayachi Aamti (dal cooked in Maharashtrian style) over it or have it with one of the many meaty curries like the Tambda Rassa or Surmai che Kelwan and you’ve got yourself a winner of a meal!

The Kothimbir Wadi works well as a starter so if you’re wondering where to begin, this is it. The vegetarians indeed have quite a few options like Chawali chi Usal (black eyed stew) Vangya Batatyachi Bhaji – eggplant cooked in Maharashtrian style (shoutout to all the baigan lovers out there!) which is rich in flavours to the homely Kokama che Bhindi (lady’s finger cooked with kokum in Maharashtrian style) and more, there’s no limit to the array of vegetables that have been used to make this meal nothing short of a delight for any vegetarian food enthusiast.

PS. The Paneer Hirwa Masala is an unusual take on the traditional green flavours by incorporating paneer – since it’s not an ingredient that’s otherwise used in classic Maharashtrian style of cooking.

For those who seek comfort food, the Masaledar Bhat is rich in spices and as the name suggests, the “masaaledar” version of the good ol’ khichdi.

Moving on to what the non-vegetarians can look forward to…

To begin with, the Rawa Tali Macchi is where you can kickstart your seafood journey into this one of a kind traditional spread. My favourites of the evening were the Tambda Rassa (hot and spicy chicken gravy) and Surmai che Kalwan (king fish cooked in Maharashtrian style). Both these zestful and wholesome curries are best savoured when eaten with traditional boiled red rice. I believe it may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but I sincerely hope to change minds as well as taste buds’ preferences.

If you’re wondering why I haven’t mentioned any red meat options, the Saoji Mutton Curry (lamb cooked in Maharashtrian style) looks fiery but tastes pretty damn good and probably isn’t for the faint-hearted. Again, have it with the a garma-garam rice bhaakri or good ol’ red rice and you’ve got yourself a meal hard to forget!

When it was time for desserts, the buffet spread has a bundle of options but I was here to try the ones that make this festival absolutely worthwhile. There was some Basundi (for those who aren’t aware, it’s a lot like rabri) and Puran Poli (sweetened flatbread). Some Aamras would have been awesome, but like I said, Chef Sagar was sweet enough to serve us a platter of freshly sliced mangoes. Sorted.

One can expect nothing less than a warm welcome from Chef Sagar and Chef Dinesh – the 2 very talented men behind this incredible menu so make sure you look out for them so they can give you the best they have to offer!

The Maharashtrian Food Festival is on till the 12th of May at Saptami, Holiday Inn Mumbai.

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