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Maithil cuisine is a culinary style which originated in Mithila, a region of the Indian subcontinent, which comprises many districts of Bihar. Mithila is famous for its Paan, Maach and Makhaan culture. Here the cuisine is characterised by native ingredients and rustic cooking techniques.
Talking about the food traditions of Mithila, we saw that community feasts also called Bhoj is a common thing. Almost every religious ceremony is accompanied by one or more community feasts where people from the locality come together to enjoy lunch or dinner. Food is served on banana or lotus leaves and is eaten by sitting on the ground in dedicated rows.
During our Bihar food exploration we got the opportunity to attend a Maithli bhoj bhaat in Darbhanga that was organized by our gracious host Sri Manikant Jha ji. We started our journey from Muzaffarpur where we first polished off some chura dahi for breakfast and then left for Darbhanga on a bus.
After alighting at Darbhanga, we took a rickshaw ride to Manikant Ji’s home which was abuzz with family members and guests. There we received a warm welcome by the family and we also met Dr. Jay Prakash Chaudhary, a notable Maithili poet who writes and presents humorous poems.
After a brief chat with him we visited the cooking area where the ladies of the family both young and old were busy preparing the elaborate meal. At one part of the courtyard some snacks items were being prepared, on another part the main course and at some other corner fish delicacy was being cooked. Once the snacks were done we tried them. This included misti and namkeen makhan, pochua, chawal ke atte ki roti with chutney and malpua. Soon after we joined the ladies for the preparation of the main course to understand the ingredients and cooking process. With such great enthusiasm and effortless coordination, in no time the food was ready.
A particular area of the open courtyard was readied for seating. As per the tradition, the spread was first offered to the Almighty and was then taken away to be served. We joined Manikant ji, some of his family members and guests for the feast. The enormous spread that was served in a set sequence was overwhelming. There was rice, dal, fritters, fried treats, differently flavoured mash, chutneys, saag, fish curry, curd and sweets. It was such a special feeling to enjoy the meal over light hearted communication. What a gratifying opportunity it was to discover about the Maithili cuisine over here.
About the host – Anubhav Sapra
Anubhav Sapra is an avid culinary explorer who loves to travel and explore different cuisine primarily the street food, not just for the sake of gustatory pleasure but also for quenching his deep thirst for nurturing new cultural connections through the kaleidoscopic canvas of food. He believes that the vibrant and delectable street food tradition across the globe has the power to bring communities together and foster harmonious human existence.
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Text by Swetaleena Nayak