The cuisine of Maharashtra is mainly influenced by the landscape, the people and the crops grown in various regions. It is not only memorable for its subtle variety and strong flavours, but also because of the legendary hospitality of Maharashtrians.
The exotic Konkani food of the West coast of Maharashtra, be it the mild, naturally fragrant vegetable mixture served with local papads, or a spicy-hot fish and meat curry with a coconut milk base, is a gourmet's dream come true.
Vidarbha's cuisine is spicier and more exotic than that of the coastal and southern regions. The ingredients commonly used are besan, or chickpea flour, and ground peanuts. The food of Peshwas and Brahmin communities of Pune is delicate, sparsely designed and entirely vegetarian. 'Puneri misal', 'thalipeeth', 'puri bhaji' and 'dalimbi usal' are not only tasty and nutritious, but inexpensive to make.
The people are known for the aesthetic presentation of food, which adds extra allure to the feasts. For instance, in formal meals, it is a practice to sing sacred verses to dedicate the meal to God. The guests sit on floor rugs or red wooden seats and eat from silver or metal thalis and bowl placed on a raised 'chowrang', or a short decorative table. Rangolis or auspicious patterns of coloured powder are drawn around the thali or the chowrang.
To avoid mixing flavours, each guest is given a bowl of saffron scented water to dip the fingers in before starting on the next course. There is a specific order of serving of savouries and sweets, curries and rice or rotis, and a person who does not know this is not considered to be well trained in the art of hospitality. Agarbattis spread fragrance everywhere and the host believes the satisfaction of his guests to be his true joy.