It is hard to come across a cuisine that’s satisfying and not heavy on the palate. You can find a lot of Bihari recipes on google but it will still be hard to gather the essence of the cuisine as you can get the real taste only in Bihari households. I can imagine the pain that the Chefs of Cafe on 3, Holiday Inn, Mayur Vihar had to go through as this cuisine is more about simplicity, restraint, minimal spices and intelligent use of ingredients so that the end product (dish) turns out to be light yet bursting with flavours.
You might argue that Mustard Oil dominates the taste in Bihari dishes but I bet this doesn’t hold true for most of the dishes. The flavours of all the ingredients are so perfectly balanced that no particular ingredient overpowers the taste. But then it all depends on the finesse with which the food is prepared. The festival ‘Purvaiya’ which is on till 8th September 2018 is curated by none other than the noted food writer and founder of Urban Escapades Maneesh Srivastava himself along with Chef Sanjay Mishra. Both of them hail from Bihar and have a deep understanding of the cuisine esp. of the regions of Bhagalpur and Siwan.
As such the food was finger licking good even though it was rustic, no compromise and down to earth. I highly recommend the festival as it would take you on a journey that shows different aspects of an already lesser-known culinary culture. We started our journey with a special cocktail consisting of Old Monk and Sattu. But the fusion stopped right there and the dishes that followed were traditional to the core. Jhal Muri was exceptional with a strong hint of mustard oil which was perfectly balanced by so many fresh ingredients. The use of pakoras in the muri distinguishes it from the Bengali version.
How can a Bihari feast be complete without Litti Chokha and the Litti prepared here was done to perfection. It was served with three different varieties of Chokha – baingan, aloo and tamatar. There were various types of chaat and I was blown away by Aloo Matar Chaat where an aloo tikki was topped with safed matar of smooth, melt in the mouth consistency. I liked Cheeni Paratha too as it was a unique offering that’s found only in selected areas of Haryana, U.P. and Bihar.
In the main course, I really liked Bihari Chicken Curry and Sarson Wali Machhli. Gatta which consisted of potatoes in green pea curry was also a unique dish. In desserts, Parwal ki Mithai stood out. The menu is rotating every day and if lucky you’ll get Mutton too, which Biharis have perfected the art of making.
Everything was really simple but it’s the simplicity that’s hard to achieve. This cuisine like every cuisine of India bears similarities to the cuisines of neighbouring regions but still has the distinctiveness of its own. Do not miss this festival as it definitely deserves a try.