The state of Kolhapur was established by Tarabai in 1707 because of the succession dispute over the Maratha kingship. The state was annexed by the British in the 19th century. After India’s independence in 1947, the Maharaja of Kolhapur acceded to the Dominion of India on 14 August 1947 and merged with Bombay State on 1 March 1949
The Shilahara family at Kolhapur was the latest of the three and was founded about the time of the downfall of the Rashtrakuta Empire. They ruled over southern Maharashtra; the modern districts of Satara, Kolhapur and Belgaon. Their family deity was the goddess Ambabai, whose blessing they claimed to have secured in their copperplate grants (Mahalakshmi-labdha-vara-prasada).
(Source – Wiki)
Kolhapur is an inland city located in south-west Maharashtra state, 228 km south of Pune.
However we didn’t begin our trip neither from Pune or Mumbai. We had been to Mahableshwar for a short trip in 2016 during the monsoons & decided to visit Kolhapur to seek the blessings of Goddess Mahalakshmi.
From Mahableshwar, Kolhapur is around 3 hours drive. Quality of roads are good even during monsoons so didn’t face any difficulty on that front.
After seeking the Devi’s darshan & blessings at the famous Kolhapur Mahalakshmi Temple, we were extremely famished & were looking at options to explore the local delicacies.
Me being a total spice lover, opted for the Misal (sprouts with masalas gravy usually topped with farsan & chopped onions & corriander leaves). The tarri or the spicy gravy liquid to be poured over the sprouts is what makes the dish unique. Each household has its own recipe & it tastes amazing. You are also given options over spicy / medium spicy misal gravy or tarri. Usually eaten with a pav (bread), this is a quick breakfast treat. It needs to be washed down with a kokam sharbet or Taak (spiced buttermilk) to ensure the spicy food doesn’t affect your digestive system & keeps your body cool.
In the evening we visited a local market to buy veggies & spices. Yes I do that on most of the trips as I love shopping for vegetables and local fruits. Kolhapur is famous for Kolhapuri Lavangi Chillies (Green chillies that are extremely spicy) & excellent masalas.
Chicken / Mutton is usually consumed heavily by non-vegetarian eaters & a very famous dish called Pandhara Rassa meaning white gravy & Tambda Rassa (Red Gravy) is made by using select spices. Although I am a vegetarian, I take interest in understanding spices & masalas that go in non-vegetarian cuisine too. You can always tweak the recipe by using vegetables of your choice.
Coming back to Lavangi Chillies, I bought a big batch of it along with fresh spices like turmeric powder & mustard seeds that went into the making of the pickle. I was all excited to come back home & try making the pickle with the spicy chillies.
(Do check out the Green Chilly Pickle recipe under the Jams, Pickles & Chutneys category)
The chillies are extremely spicy & I seriously mean it! I had to dip my hands in jaggery water for 2 hours after chopping them. But in the end, the pain was worth it. Just few basic spices and quality ingredients make all the difference.
Dinner that night was once again local cuisine of Jawarichi Bhakri (Jowar flatbreads) with Pitala (Chickpea / Besan flour vegetable (a bit runny) with spices) & Bharleli Vangi (Stuffed eggplants in Maharashtrian style) with Taak (spiced buttermilk) & assorted chutneys (garlic, thecha (green chillies, groundnuts & garlic coarsely ground).
For those of you interested in shopping, please do check out the shops nearby the Mahalakshmi temple to find the amazing “Kolhapuri Chappals”. Bargaining skills a must to get the best price. The spice markets are also close by.
Parking available for visit to Mahalakshmi Temple. Recommend taking an auto for visit to the markets etc as roads are pretty narrow with no parking space.