Giving it a unique character, Bohri cuisine follows traditions and age-old customs that make it distinctive. Firm believers in the maxim, “The family that eats together stays together,” a community or family meals involves sharing a thaal, a platter for eight. The thaal is placed upon a kundali or tarakti (stand) that rests on a square piece of cloth called a safra. The thaal can only be placed when at least one person is seated for a meal, as it can never be left unattended. Customs also demand that every person’s head be covered during the meal – women use colourful veils and the men have their white head caps with golden embroidery.
Once seated, a serving member brings water in a chelamchi lota (a basin and jug) for everyone to wash hands. Every meal begins by passing the salt (to clear the taste buds and cure 72 diseases), and only after each person seated around the thaal has tasted the salt, is the first course served. Beginning with desserts or mithaas, the next course is the savoury appetisers or kharaas. A meat-centric cuisine, a meal includes one round of starters and two desserts before the jaman (main course) is served. The jaman includes a meat dish eaten with chapattis or paranthas, and a rice dish that is accompanied by soup. The meal ends with dry fruits, and a final round of salt.
In keeping with ITC Hotels' endeavours to showcase cuisines from the diverse Kitchens of India, the Peshwa Pavilion at the ITC Maratha celebrates the cuisine of one of Mumbai's indigenous communities from August 22 through September 2.
Many hands are a blessing, and discovering a culinary culture whilst sharing a meal seems like a truly delightful experience!