In pictures: Bihari food beyond litti-chokha

In pictures: Bihari food beyond litti chokha

In pictures: Bihari food beyond litti-chokha ahuna mutton bihari kabab sattu parwal mithai

The cuisine of Bihar does not receive even half as much attention as the state’s politics. But Bihari food is no less interesting than its political battles. While litti chokha remains the most well-known and celebrated food of Bihar, there are many other dishes which are unique in their own way.

The state’s food can be divided on the basis of its three main regions – Mithila or Maithil, Magadhi or Magahi and Bhojpuri.

Maithil is the cuisine of north Bihar and has a lot of similarities with Nepalese cuisine as it shares the border with the Himalayan nation. Magadhi or Magahi is the food of central Bihar comprising the districts of Patna, Nalanda, Nawada, Gaya, Arwal, Aurangabad, and Jehanabad.

Bhojpuri food refers to the cuisine of the region bordered by Awadh (Uttar Pradesh) in the west and Mithila in the east. Since it is close to eastern Uttar Pradesh, similarities in food also exist.

Despite the three distinct regions, some characteristics are universal to Bihari cuisine. One is the liberal use of seasonal vegetables. In almost every Bihari household, at least two vegetable curries and a dal dish are served for both lunch and dinner. Vegetables are also dried during summers for use during monsoons when fresh produce is not easily available, especially during floods.

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Second is the fondness for chana or gram across Bihar. Roasted and powdered chana makes the famous sattu, which is had as a cooling drink flavoured with salt and spices or sugar. It is stuffed inside littis with pickle masala and this filling also makes for wonderful parathas. In winters, fresh green gram is used to make curry with potato or the famous bhabka – fritters. Chana dal cooked with bottle gourd is served with rice on the first day of the Chhath festival called nahaye khaye.

Coming to specifics of the cuisine, Maithil food broadly revolves around rice, meat, dals and fish dishes besides vegetables. Black gram ghoogni, kadhi bari, dahi chuda (curd with flattened rice), kumhrauri (dried dal dumplings), tisauri (dried flax seed dumplings, fried and served as side dish) and irhar (fresh dal dumplings fried and added to gravy) are an integral part of the cuisine.

Magadhi cuisine is rice-heavy followed by wheat and maize. Non-vegetarian food is largely centred around fishes and meat while chicken is also rapidly gaining popularity. Litti and sattu are a regular part of the meal and among sweets, boondi (made from chana dal) and parwal mithai (pointed gourd stuffed with mawa, nuts and sugar) are served on most occasions. Boondi, with nuts and raisins, is boiled in milk to make sakrori, a kheer-like dish. Balushahi is another popular sweet dish and is part of thalis across Bihar.

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Bhojpuri food is influenced by the neighbouring Awadhi cuisine and has pulav, biryanis and raitas in its rich repertoire. Puri-sabzi, kachoris, chhole bhature, a variety of vegetables and dals are integral to Bhojpuri food. Fritters of fresh vegetables accompany meals at many homes even today.

Irhar, dal pitha, khaja, suran chutney are in the long list of little-known foods of Bihar while Bihari kabab, made using lamb meat or chicken, is a popular non-vegetarian street food.

Thekua, a dried sweet made using wheat and sugar or jaggery, is offered as prasad during Chhath puja and is popular across Bihar and Uttar Pradesh. Here’s food from Bihar in pictures as the state gears up for its biggest festival dedicated to lord Sun – Chhath:

Chana ghooghni, the protein-rich anytime snack.
Chana ghooghni, the protein-rich anytime snack.
Ahuna mutton is prepared in earthen pot and cooked on slow fire for hours.
Ahuna mutton is prepared in earthen pot and cooked on slow fire for hours.

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Dal pitha are steamed rice dumplings filled with dal.
Dal pitha are steamed rice dumplings filled with dal.
Kumhrauri with potato gravy. Kumhrauri are sun-dried ground dal dumplings, fried and soake in water before use.
Kumhrauri with potato gravy. Kumhrauri are sun-dried ground dal dumplings, fried and soaked in water before use.
Bihari kadhi bari does not involve the use of onions or any other vegetables unlike kadhis from other states.
Bihari kadhi bari does not involve the use of onions or any other vegetables unlike kadhis from other states.

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Originally made only using lamb meat, Bihari kababs are now also made using chicken. It is a popular street food.
Originally made only using lamb meat, Bihari kababs are now also made using chicken. It is a popular street food.
Yam or ol ki chutney is made by boiling and tempering yam, which is found in abundance in Bihar.
Yam or ol ki chutney is made by boiling and tempering yam, which is found in abundance in Bihar.
Tisauri are dried flax seed dumplings. They are fried and served as side dish
Tisauri are dried flax seed dumplings. They are fried and served as side dish
Mention of Bihar food is incomplete without litti-chokha. Littis are baked wheat balls stuffed with spicy sattu mixture. Chokha, a mash, of potato/brinjal or both accompanies littis.
Mention of Bihar food is incomplete without litti-chokha. Littis are baked wheat balls stuffed with spicy sattu mixture. Chokha, a mash, of potato/brinjal or both, accompanies littis.

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he spicy sattu mixture can also be stuffed into wheat balls and rolled to make paratha. It is a popular travel snack among Biharis.
The spicy sattu mixture can also be stuffed into wheat balls and rolled to make paratha. It is a popular travel snack among Biharis.
Bhojpuri thali, complete with sattu paratha, green gram fritters (bhabka), kadhi bari, dahi-chuda, balushahi, biryani, yam curry, rice etc
Bhojpuri thali, complete with sattu paratha, green gram fritters (bhabka), kadhi bari, dahi-chuda, balushahi, biryani, yam curry, rice etc
Mithila thali includes kumhrauri, raw banana and other vegetable fritters, stuffed parwal, bhoonja (dry vegetable).
Mithila thali includes kumhrauri, raw banana and other vegetable fritters, stuffed parwal, bhoonja (dry vegetable).

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Sakrori, sweet dish made using boondi, dry fruits to milk.
Sakrori, sweet dish made using boondi, dry fruits and milk.
Bihar's famous parwal mithai - pointed gourd cooked in sugar syrup and stuffed with dry fruits and mawa (khoya).
Bihar’s famous parwal mithai – pointed gourd cooked in sugar syrup and stuffed with dry fruits and mawa (khoya).
Khaja -- thin layered fritters soaked in sugar syrup.  Khaja from Silao in Nalanda is the most famous.
Khaja — thin layered fritters soaked in sugar syrup. Khaja from Silao in Nalanda is the most famous.

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Thekua - the food of the Gods. Also called the fried biscuit from Bihar.
Thekua – the food of the Gods. Also called the fried biscuit from Bihar, it is the offering to Lord Sun on Chhath puja.
Magahi paan uses the sweet and tender paan leaf, which is cultivated in the Magadh region of Bihar and has received Geographical Indication (GI) tag.
Magahi paan uses the sweet and tender paan leaf, which is cultivated in the Magadh region of Bihar and has received Geographical Indication (GI) tag.

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One thought on “In pictures: Bihari food beyond litti chokha

  1. Puja says:

    Superbly informative and of course, mouthwatering. There is so much to explore about the cuisines of our own country, which change/ vary almost every 100 km….

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