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Cuisine of BiharBihari cuisine is predominantly vegetarian. However, unlike Gujarat or some communities of south, non-vegetarian food is also quite acceptable even in traditional homes of Bihar. Some sects of Brahmins like the Maithil Brahmins have traditionally eaten some varieties of fish. Mutton or Goat meat is even used as Prasad in some type of pujas, like devi puja. Oddly, many Kayastha families in Bihar, who are generally considered great lovers of non-vegetarian food, are vegetarian in Bihar. Traditional Bihar society did not quite eat eggs and chicken, though other types of birds and fowls were highly acceptable. However, such distinctions are no longer current.
Staple foodAs stated earlier, much of the food consumed by people in Bihar is vegetarian and very healthy. The staple food is “bhat, dal, roti, tarkari(vegetables) and achar”, prepared basically from rice, lentils, wheat flour, vegetables, and pickle. They use uncooked sprouts soaked in water and consumed with choora bhunja and Makhana. The famous "jhal moori"(puffed rice with sprouts and many more incredients) is a famous snack. Traditionally, mustard oil and ghee has been the popular cooking medium. "Khichdi", the broth of rice and lentils, seasoned with spices, and served with several accompanying items like thick curd, chutney, pickles (more than 5000 varieties of pickles are prepared by women in a year), papads, ghee (clarified butter) and chokha (boiled mashed potatoes, seasoned with finely cut onions, green chilies) constitutes the lunch for most people of Bihar on Saturdays. People want varieties in food so there are more than six type of vegetable dishes prepared daily with each meal. Salad with cabbage, raw peas, onions, tomatoes, cucumber, coriander eaves, beet root, carrot and fresh winter vegetables are served in huge Thali's along with the food. Milk is boiled until it reduces to half and then thick curd is made from it. Different type of stuffed parotha is also common.
Other dishes which are predominantly used in Bihar is Sattu (flour of fried grams). There are many other dishes which is made with sattu like litti, Sattu ki Roti etc. In rural areas of Bihar, doughed sattu is being consumed with some salt and pickels.
Sweet delicaciesThere is large variety of sweet delicacies. Unlike Oriya and Bengali sweets which are soaked in syrups made of sugar and are therefore wet, sweets of Bihar are mostly dry. Some of them are Laktho, Khurma,Balushahi,Anarasa, Khaja, Motichoor ka Ladoo, Kala Jamun, Kesaria Peda, Parwal ka Mithai, Khubi ka Lai, Belgrami, Tilkut, Thekua and Chena Murki. Some of them owe their origin to towns in the vicinity of Patna: Khaja from Silao Nalanda, Ladoo from Maner, Kala Jamun from Vikram, Khubi ka Lai from Barh, Tilkut and Kesaria Peda from Gaya ,balushahi from Harnaut and Chena Murki from Koelwar. Descendants of the original family members of the cooks, called halwais in the local language, have migrated to urban Patna and authentic sweet delicacies are now available in the city itself.
Other traditional snacks and savouriesThere are several other traditional snacks and savouries:
* Pua, prepared from a mixture of powdered rice, milk, ghee (clarified butter), sugar and honey and its variant Malpua
* Pittha, steam cooked, mixture of powdered rice
* Chiwra, beaten rice, served with a coat of creamy curd and sugar or jaggery
* Makhana (a kind of water fruit) is prepared from lotus seeds and is taken puffed or as kheer, prepared with milk and sugar
* Sattu, powdered baked gram, is a high energy giving food. It is taken mixed with water or with milk. Sometimes, sattu mixed with spices are used to prepare stuffed 'chapattis', locally called as 'makuni roti'
* Litti/Choka, a fast food item that can be prepared with minimum of utensils by people who away on tour. It is prepared with Sattu and Wheat flour and taken with mashed potato and brinjals.
* Dhuska, a deep fried item prepared from a mixture of powdered rice and ghee but is salted
* Kadhi Bari, these fried soft dumplings made of besan (gram flour) are cooked in a spicy gravy of yogurt and besan. It goes very well over plain rice.
* Halwa, prepared by frying sooji(semolina) till reddish and then mixing sugar and boiling with water till thickening.
Non-vegetarian foodThe distinctive Bihari flavor of the non-vegetarian cooking finds mention in the memoirs of Maulana Abul Kalam Azad who found it quite tasteful. Forms of Kebabs, Mutton preparations and dishes prepared from the various fowls and birds have a very distinctive flavor. Bihari's are quite famous for their Behari Kebabs another typical Bihari non vegetarian dish. This dish was traditionally made from mutton and is eaten with Roti, Paratha (sort of pita) or boiled rice. Recently in fast food restaurants these Behari Kebabs are also sold as Behari Kebab Rolls. This is essentially the kebabs wrapped up in a Paratha. Some Muslim families moved from Bihar to Pakistan during partition in 1947. The Behari culture and their cuisines can be seen quite distinctively in Karachi where they are in quite a large number. Later on few of them immigrated to US and Canada, taking with them their culture and cuisine. There are a number of Behari restaurants that sell various vegetarian and non vegetarian rolls and are rather popular by the generic name Bihari Kebab Rolls whether its Lexington Avenue (South) in New York or Gerard Street in Downtown Toronto.
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