Hurda Festival at Hotel Shreyas

I was invited by Food Prowl and Hotel Shreyas for their Hurda Festival recently. I would like to thank both Hotel Shreyas as well as the Food Prowl team for the opportunity and the lovely evening.

Hurda is basically tender Jowar stalks roasted over an open fire (traditionally dried cow dung cakes or charcoal). It is found all over rural Maharashtra during the harvest season in the chilly winters, making this quite the perfect way to celebrate the harvest.

Hurda is accompanied by numerous mouthwatering accompaniments like chutneys, fresh yogurt, jaggery, roasted groundnuts, dried coconut and much more. Hotel Shreyas brought this amazing concept from the farms right to the heart of Pune city with the Hurda Festival.

The festival was hosted on the terrace of the hotel, with many live counters of traditional rural snacks like onion bhaji, fresh sugarcane juice and of course hurda. The whole terrace was decorated in traditional rural fashion, with pots and artifacts as well as miniature village homes complete with front yards and small temples. Visitors could click photos in the rural settings wearing village attire provided by the hotel. Lot of fun for the whole family.

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The Food

Hurda

Tender jowar stalks were being roasted on dried cow dung cake fire, the kernels were then separated and roasted again in a wok and served hot onto your plate. The best way to eat this is to add some groundnut or garlic-coconut chutney (or both!), a touch of red chilly powder, lemon juice, some creamy yogurt and then roasted groundnuts on top. Mix it up and devour it. Keep some dried coconut and jaggery on the side to munch on between bites.

The Hurda was mindblowingly smoky, sweet and extremely tasty. I went back for multiple refills.

Onion Bhaji

This is a very typical Maharashtrian snack. Thinly sliced onions dipped in a flavoursome spicy batter and deep fried to perfection. Tasted divine! Crispy, spicy and hot. I topped it up with some sliced raw onions marinated in lemon juice and spices as well as some sweet tamarind chutney.

Sugarcane Juice

Fresh sugarcane juice was being served which was squeezed along with some ginger and lemon. You could top it up with table salt and rock salt. The sweet juice with the spice of the ginger, zing of lemon and the saltiness and earthiness from the salts was just brilliant. Great drink to wash down all the Hurda and spicy bhajis.

Mains

Buffet style main course on the penultimate floor served traditional Maharashtrian rural food.

Kolache Pohe

This is a tasty snack from coastal Maharashtra or Konkan. This is puffed flattened rice (pohe) topped with coconut milk (with jaggery and tamrind juice) with a tadka of dried red chillies, curry leaves and many spices. The dish is sweet as well as spicy. The pohe become fluffy and soft in the coconut milk and then the papad on top gives it a nice crunchy texture. Amazing dish.

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Gul Poli – Traditional Maharashtrian chapati stuffed with jaggery and a few spices. This is superb stuff. Served with ghee!

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Mugachi Khichadi – Maharashtrian style khichadi made with rice and moong dal, mildly spiced, mostly with turmeric. Very flavourful and light.

Pithla Bhakri – This is one of the classic dishes. Gram flour (besan) curry made in spices, turmeric, green chillies and topped with fresh corriander. It is extremely tasty and reminds me of my grandmothers cooking. Mildly spiced but very flavourful. Goes great with fresh hot jowar bhakris made right in front of you topped with a generous dollop of ghee.

Eggplant Dry Curry (Khara Vanga) – Eggplant curry is an extremely popular dish in Maharashtra and this is a dry version. It was not extremely spicy but very tasty and the creamy smoky eggplant was just awesome.

Kadhi – Maharashtrian style sweet and mildly spiced kadhi. Packed with the flavour of fresh fragrant spices. I can down this like soup.

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Chutney and Thecha – No Maharashtrian meal is complete without some chutney and thecha. There were two types of chutneys – Groundnut chutney (earthy and nutty) and Garlic-coconut chutney (fragrant and spicy). Tastes great with yogurt or straight up.

Thecha is another classic preparation, fresh green chillies mashed with garlic, salt and oil till it becomes a paste. It is very hard to get the perfect balance, but you know it has been prepared by a master as it was perfectly spicy without being overpowering with a hit of fresh green chilly flavour. Goes great with bhakri.

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This amazing meal was finished off with some hot filter coffee. Strong, sweet and milky served in a earthen mug!

I had an amazing time at Hotel Shreyas with the Food Prowl team gorging on delicious hurda as well as the rural style meal. Hurda party, as it is called, is great fun with friends and family as you sit around a fire, snacking and having a good time in the cold winter weather. Usually it is done on a farm, but not everybody is lucky enough to do so. So hats off to Hotel Shreyas for bringing this concept right at our doorstep in the heart of the city. I, for sure, will be waiting for their next Hurda Festival!

P.S. – Hotel Shreyas is an institution in Pune serving Maharashtrian Thali since 1966.

 

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