INDIA. Bihar: Eastern India’s state of Bihar is famous mostly for its history, the role it plays in Indian politics, and for its fragrant and tasty food.
In India, you find a different cuisine as you travel 50-100 kilometers in any direction. Every district offers exquisite flavours for food lovers.
READ ALSO: The Royal Taste Of Mughlai Cuisine
It’s true in Eastern India too, as fragrant scents waft from the rustic kitchens of Bihar. Even with appetites sated, patrons leave cloaked in the layered scents of the specialty cuisine full of anticipation for their next gourmet experience. The rustic beauty of Bihari food is a beautiful melee of flavour and a must-try for everyone who wants to eat exotic dishes.
Essential ingredients of Bihari cuisine
Bihari cuisine is more about simplicity, restraint, minimal spices, and intelligent use of ingredients so that the end product turns out to be light yet bursting with flavour. Bihari cuisine is soul-satisfying and not heavy on the palate. It is simply an out of the box cuisine which is extremely underrepresented in the world.
The pungent aroma of mustard oil dominates many Bihari dishes but the pungency of this oil is well balanced by the flavours of other ingredients.
Bihari cuisine uses Sattu (powdered Bengal gram) in almost every dish, and as such, you can expect sattu in puris, paranthas, dumplings (litti), and even drinks. In fact, there is a drink called Sattu Ki Thandai, a thick drink made of sattu and onions. It is a perfect drink to cool the body and provide the requisite protein.
The red meat preparations in Bihar are perhaps one of the best in India. Be it the kababs at Patna or Jamshedpur or the traditional mutton curry in Bihari homes with pooris or parathas, it is always top-notch. All in all, Bihari food is an a-la-carte experience with a range of signature dishes.
A food journey in Bihar
A normal food journey begins the moment you enter Bihar. You are overwhelmed by the mustard oil fragrance and sight of various litti counters. Litti chokha is perhaps the best-known food from Bihar to everyone in India. Littis are made by stuffing round dough balls with sattu and then either roasted or deep-fried and eaten with mashed veggies or chokha (potato, brinjal or tomato), green chilli pods and diced onions. For meat-eaters, littis can be eaten with mutton curry or they can be stuffed with keema. Litti-chokha is served for breakfast, lunch, and dinner and that shows the love for it. Other popular dishes include genuine delicacies like dal peetha, the Bihari version of rice flour dumplings (shaped like Nepali momos), and tarua.
The journey into fragrant lanes continues as the fragrance of various chaats from the nearby khomcha (food stall) pulls you. On the khomcha, various types of chaat like aloo matar ghughnai chaat, jhaal muri, chuda ghughni, and gup chups (puchkas or golgappas) are available. All these are delicious comfort foods that are light, flavorful, and healthy. Nothing can match the joy of eating jhaal muri out of rolled wastepaper with the hint of mustard oil.
The hungry foodie will now move towards the main course, which in Bihar is a huge spread and is another grand mix of dishes. For vegetarians, there is lal saag with chana and colocasia (arbi) leaves prepped in masala gravy, and aloo in tomato gravy and boiled rice. Nonvegetarians can enjoy delights like sarson wali macchi, egg curry, and mutton curry.
You cannot finish an Indian meal without feasting on desserts and in Bihar, you find a wide variety of them. Makhaane ki kheer, khaja, chandrakala, parwal mithai are only a few examples and every sweet dish is a treat.
Bihar has so many sweets that a sweet lover will find it difficult to relish them all in one go. While most of the sweets are available around the year, thekua is specially prepared at homes, especially during chhath puja as prasad. And the foodie in you should be thankful that you are visiting Bihar during these festival times.
Everything is really simple in Bihari cuisine and this cuisine, like every cuisine of India, bears similarities to the cuisines of neighbouring regions but maintains the distinctiveness of its own region.