Heritage Cuisine of India – Kolhapuri

INDIA AND ITS HERITAGE CUISINE – “KOLHAPURI” FOOD

byVIKRAM KARVE 

 

 

It’s a hot Sunday afternoon in Pune. I am voraciously hungry and am pining for a fulfilling meal. And what can be better than a wholesome authentic Kolhapuri meal to blissfully satiate my pangs of hunger? So I proceed to my favourite Kolhapuri restaurant called “Purepur Kolhapur” near Peru Gate, the food district of Sadashiv Peth, in the heart of

Pune
City. It’s a Spartan no-nonsense eatery; the only thing conspicuous is the ‘
Kolhapur zero-milestone’ outside the entrance which makes it easy to locate. I saw a similar zero-milestone somewhere in Kothrud near Mehendale Garage the other day and was delighted to find that a branch of “Purepur Kolhapur” has stared there too!  

There are just three main items on the menu – Mutton Taat (Thali), Chicken Taat, (which cost Rs. 75/- each), and Purepur Special Taat for a princely Rs. 120/- (I am told that the ‘Purepur Special’ contains everything the place has to offer!). 

There is a flurry of activity and a large stainless steel taat is placed in front of me almost instantly. The Purepur Special Thali comprises the following:·                    A large bowl of thick chicken curry with four generous pieces of chicken.·                    A plate of appetizingly crisp dark brown pieces of fried mutton liberally garnished with almost burnt deep fried onion strips.·                    A Kheema Vati (Katori)·                    A vati of Tambda Rassa ( Red Gravy)·                    A vati of Pandhara Rassa (White Gravy)·                    Kuchumber salad made of onions, ginger, coriander, green chillies and curds ·                    Lemon pieces·                    A fresh piping hot chapatti (You can have bhakri if you want, but today I’m in a mood for a crisp hot crunchy chapatti splattered with pure ghee)·                    A bowl of jeera rice garnished with crisp brown fried onion strips and cashew nuts.  

I sip the pandhara rassa – it’s invigorating. Next I spoon into my eager mouth a generous portion of mutton fry. It’s not melt-in-the-mouth stuff (I think it is the inimitable Bolai mutton). I chew slowly and savor the sweetish taste of the fried onions blended with the lively spiciness of the crisply fried mutton. I dip a piece of the piping hot chapatti into the tambda rassa allowing it to soak in, place it on my tongue and chew it to a pulp until it practically swallows itself savouring the flavour till the very end. Exquisite! 

Now using my right thumb and two fingers, I lovingly pick up a small piece of chicken from the gravy; delicately place it on my tongue and roll it against my palate. I close my eyes, look inside, and focus on the succulent boneless chicken release it’s zesty juices and disintegrate. Yes, unlike the crispy fried mutton which need a vigorous chew to truly relish its deliciousness, the chicken is soft and tender, almost melt-in-the-mouth. I sample the Kheema Vati – it’s totally different from the Kheema I’ve tasted at Irani and Mughlai eateries. The Kheema has an unusual taste I can’t exactly describe – a bit sweet and sour– a counterbalancing contrast, perhaps. 

Now that I’ve sampled everything in its pristine form, I squeeze a bit of lemon on the mutton and chicken and embellish it with kuchumber to give it the right tang, and from time to time I sip the wholesome pandhara rassa. I thoroughly enjoy the confluence of contrasting tastes. In conclusion I mix everything with the rice and rejoice the riot of zesty flavours. At the end, as I always do after all hearty spicy meals, I pick up a wedge of lemon and squeeze a bit of lemon juice into my glass of water and sip it down. Believe me, it improves the aftertaste and lightens the post-meal heaviness sometimes caused by spicy Indian cuisine. 

It’s an exciting, invigorating meal which perks me up and the sheer epicurean pleasure I experience makes up for the crowded, hassled ambience and indifferent service. Purepur Kolhapur is worth a visit for the quality and authenticity of its food. 

For most of us “Kolhapuri” food has become synonymous with the “chilli-hot” self-styled, purported, ostensible Kolhapuri fare served in both highfalutin and run-of-the-mill restaurants whose menus often feature dishes called “Chicken Kolhapuri” or “Vegetable Kolhapuri” which masquerade as Kolhapuri cuisine. Kolhapuri cuisine is “spicy”, not “chilli-hot”, not “rich” and “fatty” – nothing exotic about it. A Kolhapuri meal, unique in its simplicity, comprises a variety of lip-smacking, earthy, flavorsome, nourishing dishes and is so complete that it creates within you a inimitable hearty wholesome sense of fulfillment, and is a welcome change from the ubiquitous fatty and greasy-rich Makhanwalla, Masala, Kadhai, Handi, Naan, Biryani Punjabi / Mughlai fare you eat day in and day out. There is a world of a difference between pseudo- Kolhapuri and authentic-Kolhapuri food. 

There are a number of good authentic Kolhapuri Cuisine Restaurants in Pune. Of course, when we visit
Kolhapur, we eat at Opal. And there must be many other excellent places too. And remember to end a satiating Kolhapuri meal with a cool soothing Mastani!

 

I was disappointed to find not even a single authentic Kolhapuri restaurant listed in various Good Food Guides to Mumbai. I walked all over
South Mumbai, experimented, tasted, sampled, but there was no joy. No Kolhapuri Taat anywhere, and no pandhara and tambda rassa even a la carte.  Some places did feature a “Kolhapuri” dish,but nowhere was Mutton or Chicken Kolhapuri the signature dish – it appeared they had put it on the menu just for the sake of it, maybe to gratify the dulled taste buds on the alcohol soaked tongues of inebriated patrons who probably were in no state to appreciate the finer aspects of relishing good food. When queried, the waiters invariably said that Kolhapuri was synonymous with fiery chilli-hot food.
 

I do not know where you get genuine Kolhapuri cuisine in Mumbai, Delhi,
Bangalore or any of the Metros. If you, dear fellow Foodie, know of an authentic Kolhapuri Restaurant, will you be so good as to let us all know?
 

Happy Eating! 

 

VIKRAM KARVE 

vikramkarve@sify.com 

http://vikramkarve.sulekha.com 

 

 

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34 Comments »

  1. 1
    Amar Mulay Says:

    Hi Vikram..

    Well I don’t know of any Kolhapuri restaurants in Mumbai either- but there is one authentic Kolhapuri eatery in Thane city. Being on a vacation right now, I was on the lookout for some serious no-nonsense traditional Indian eateries- eateries because many a times, it is such places that serve you genuinely ethnic food- unlike fancier places that it won’t be a hyperbole to say, actually sell fascimiles!

    In any case, this particular joint I am talking about, “Kolhapur,” pleased me no end this afternoon. We ordered the mutton masal and believe me it was an exact replica of the famous spicy curries you get in the heart of Kolhapur! There was not an iota of difference at all! The Pandhra and the tambda rassa were fabulous- no other word would do justice- while the gravy was just perfectly Kolhapuri …… again, no other term would aptly describe it! I can quite confidently say that “Kolhapur” is amongst the most authentic Kolhapuri restaurants I’ve ever visited.

    They also have the chicken and mutton “Thalis,” where they let you choose between jowar bhakris and chapatis along with the scrumptious Kolhapuri Bhaat. I was reluctant to try the “biryani” in this quintessential Marathi joint- but must say it was as good as any Hyderabadi biryani you might ever taste- but of course with that delicious Kolhapuri zing to it instead of the sweetish Mughal tang. I didin’t sample their seafood but if their curry flavors are anything to go by, it sure should be in the same gastronomic league as its signature mutton and chicken masala!

    All in all, “Kolhapur” is a boon- fulfilling the long existing void of any genuine Kolhapuri restaurant in Mumbai or its near abouts!

  2. 2

    Thanks. Where is this mouthwatering place?

  3. 3
    Rajiv Kshirsagar Says:

    I love Kolhapuri tambda rassa muttom, Iam from Thane, where is this hotel in Thane

  4. 4
    Niranjan Savant Says:

    I am from thane too, please do let me know where this palce is. I cannot wait to get there the next time i am on vacation 😛

  5. 5
    Niranjan Savant Says:

    I also remember sampling a great Kolhapuri Thali at a tidy little restaurant near pratap cinema in thane….unfortunately I dont remember the name…..when you go towards pratap cinema from the ST workshop, the restaurant is on the right hand side….they also have good fish dishes…but nothing has ever matched the kolhapuri mutton i had many years back as a child at one of my relatives place in kolhapur….

  6. 6

    Long long back I stayed in Naupada Thane for a while and know Pratap Cinema and I must go there now to find the Kolhapuri Place

  7. 7
    Rajiv Kshirsagar Says:

    Well In thane, the Hotel Kolhapur is near Gadkari RANGAYATHAN (Marathi Thearter)
    Mr Karve is thsi puerpur Kolhapur hotel really good and spicy…

  8. 8
    Rajiv Kshirsagar Says:

    If you need good malvani style food all types and Beja masala etc you can bet on Hotel sindhudurg at Mulund checknana, opp. to aplab company on LBS MARG.
    I dont know this jont nnear pratap cinema..where excatly it is…

  9. 9
    Rajiv Kshirsagar Says:

    Hotel sindhudurg is at thane near mulund checknaka, near aplab company….

  10. 10
    Niranjan Savant Says:

    me and my wife go to hotel sindhudurg whenever we can….i agree with rajiv it dishes out good malvani fare

  11. 11
    Rajiv Kshirsagar Says:

    Niranjan where do u stay in Thane I stay at Panchakpkadi

  12. 12
    Niranjan Savant Says:

    hey I have been born and brought up in panchpakhadi..my parents still stay there and me and my wife stay at saket complex

  13. 13

    sindhudurg is good

  14. 14
    rajiv Says:

    This time I tried Kheema mutton at Hotel Kolhapur in Thane…its really good better than Sindhudurg, which has only pepper in it while at hotel kolhapur it has real kolhapuri masala.

  15. 15
    Niranjan Savant Says:

    I am going back home in Feb!!! cant wait to taste that kheema from hotel kolhapur!!! 😛

    I would like to ask you both a question. If i wanted to collect a genuine recipe for a few select dishes for e.g. mutton from kolhapur, misal from pune, fish curry from karwar etc etc and I mean a really really genuine recipe which can be exactly recreated, where do you think should i begin?

  16. 16
    rajiv Says:

    Niranjan,
    I stay at Anjali society panchpakhadi, I was in SES high school.
    By the way where are you abroad now.

    Yes you should try Kheema masakla at Hotel Kolhapur, It near vasant Hotel take the lane that goes to St John next to it, its in that lane. This time I missed Bheja Masala from Sindhu drug.

    Y a, If u need good fish go to mai fish market not the new one but the old one and ask for Mr Raikar he gives good fish at great prices in Kg basis.

  17. 17
    rajiv Says:

    Karve saheb amhe punyala aalayavar tumchyabarobar Purepur Kolhapur madye jau ya.

    I like people who like Non veg hence eager to meet and dine with you.

    Niranjan we can meet in Thane and have good non veg.

  18. 18
    Niranjan Savant Says:

    you stay in anjali and u went to SES highschool??? ..the world is really a very small place 🙂 i stay in vasant society and went to SES too. I am on a project in the US for the last few months and wil lbe back soon ..we should surely meet…

    and yes we should also plan a trip to pune once..Karve saaheb tumchi harkat nasel tar aamhi tumhaala bhetaayla nakki yeu 🙂

  19. 19
    rajiv Says:

    Hotel Kolhapur address is

    Iam in europe now .Niranjan, Indiayath aalayavar naki bhetu…

    Karve saheb barobar naki mutton hanu yaa…..

  20. 20
    mangesh Says:

    yes i like purepur mutton thali it’s my fav, specially pandhara rassa

  21. 21
    HOSANGADY Says:

    PUREPUR KOHLAPUR has become one of my favorites after reading your review.The DRY MUTTON FRY kohlapuri style (made to order courtesy MR HOLANKAR the owner ) is out of this world
    Fortunately they have opened a branch in NAL STOP Thank you for the good lead

  22. 22
    Amit D Ranade Says:

    It is unfortunate that Maharashtra which accounts for more than 60% (but not less) of Jowar production in India, should eat wheat chapattis. Wheat is produced in Punjab (mostly) and only a bit here. No wonder the Punjabi farmers are becoming richer and the Jowar growing farmers, poorer! Are we not contributing to their suicides? Can we turn to Jowar, Bajra and Rice varieties which are locally grown?Let’s look at this as a cultural issue, because eating Bhakri is a part of Marathi Baana.

    Please reply with your views.
    Thanks.

    A D Ranade
    Thane, Maharashtra
    June 6, 2008

  23. 23
    rajiv Says:

    Ranade saheb you are right
    For that you have to do promote bhakri in restaurants………………
    By the way where do u live in Thane………

  24. 24
    Kaustubh Deodhar Says:

    For all those Non- veg lovers of Kolhapuri food, here is the good news. The same Purepur Kolhapur hotel is now in Mumbai also.

    It is in vile parle East Near Parleshwar Mandir. U can even get Parcel also.

    Same taste amazing food. No need to add further.

  25. 25

    Kaustubh,

    Thanks for the food news. Purepur has opened branches in Pune too.
    And yes, nothing to beat Bhakri with Mutton Curry.

    • 26
      Rajiv Says:

      Purepur Kolhapur has a branch now in Thane near Ghantali mandir

      • 27
        Gauri Says:

        where xctly near Ghantali mandir . I plan to go there this weekend. Can u let me knw immediately. Thnks in advance.

  26. 28
    rajiv Says:

    Its near Tanvi Herbals,Its a parallel road to Ram Maruti Road,Near Shraddha Vada centre near 3 petrol pump

  27. 29
    rajiv Says:

    Its a parallel road to Ram Maruti Road,Near Shraddha Vada centre near 3 petrol pump

  28. 30
    Swapnil Says:

    Hotel Purepur Kolhapur
    Serves authentic Kolhapuri food. If you love non-veg then this is certainly not an eatery that you should miss.

    Address in thane:
    Hotel Purepur Kohlapur
    Off ghantali devi road, thane (west)

    Directions:
    While going from teen petrol pump to ram maruti road (towards the signal near gajanan maharaj mandir) take the first right (landmark for taking the right turn is there is Hotel Pot-bhar on this conrner),

    after taking the right you are now on Ghantali Devi road, on this road on the second right turn you will see Elements Kitchens, turn right inside that lane, 3rd shop is “Purepur Kohlapur”.

    And there you are.!!! ready to indulge in the authentic Kolhapuri spices.
    Enjoy.!

  29. 31
    Naresh Bhandare Says:

    Folks – we get a good Kolhapuri Thaali at Yummy Tummy in Magarpatta City – special chicken Thaali with chicken fry, chicken curry, tambda rasa, chapati, rice (they stopped the fried onions since the price rise) for Rs 100/- veg thaali for 70. Good home made stuff. Check it out.

  30. 32
    Rajiv kshirsagar Says:

    Hi Naresh,

    Good you are enjoying food in Pune….

    Br
    Rajiv kshirsagar

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