Apr 26, 2018 | 6 Mins
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The food of the Chandraseniya Kayastha Prabhu (CKP) community has come a long, long way. The community, who are said to be descendants of King Chandrasena, migrated from Kashmir and the Indus Valley plains in North India to Madhya Pradesh and then to the coastal regions of Gujarat and Maharashtra—and they brought their recipes and ingredients with them. 36-year-old home chef Priya Churi was born into this community and has eaten this deliciously rich food all her life.
(Karandi Omelette - Baby masala prawns cooked in an omelette. An unique and delicious combination indeed!)
Priya has a day job in business development, but her love for food propelled her to find the time to cook more. She began serving up CKP snack items at exhibitions in Mumbai, and after getting a good response, she realised that she should allot more time to cooking. Since February 2018, she’s worked with Authenticook to offer a CKP thali in her home in Thane, Maharashtra. Check out her in-home dining experiences here.
(Quintessential CKP dish - Chicken Rassa with Vade)
A community’s food often offers tell-tale pointers to its history and lineage. In the case of the CKP community, you’ll find it in the spices. “The main ingredients are the spices that we use,” says Priya, over a phone conversation. Saffron and poppy seeds are integral, as they were found in abundance around Kashmir. “Then, as we migrated towards Madhya Pradesh, lots of spices were added to our spice box. We use a lot of cinnamon, fennel seeds and coriander seeds. There are traditional masalas and freshly ground spices. Even our garam masala is different,” she says. The migration affected other ingredients as well. “Once the community came into Maharashtra, we started using a lot of seafood. And now, when we can’t find fresh fish, which becomes difficult in the summer and the monsoon, we have our stock of dried fish.”
(Stuffed Pomfret with special green chutney)
This is a community that clearly loves its non-vegetarian dishes. Perhaps it’s because of the migratory pattern and assimilating locally available produce (like fish, after moving to coastal areas) into their cuisine, but it doesn’t matter if it’s mutton, chicken or seafood—non-veg is an important part of nearly every meal. The CKP version of khichdi—kolambi khichdi—comes with prawn mixed in, too. Priya recalls her grandmother, even her grandmother’s grandmother, making it. To turn up the notch on the quintessential comfort food, they’d eat it with malai and ghee.
(Kolumbi Khichidi - A CKP delight of rice preparation with prawns and spices)
If you were to turn up at a CKP community household on a Sunday, chances are you’d be served mutton. “All the parts of the goat are relished by the CKP community,” says Priya. “We make liver fry, brain masala… nothing goes to waste.” In fact, mutton kheema pattice—which is a part of Priya’s Authenticook thali—is one of the more popular dishes of the community.
(Mutton Kheema Pattice - Mutton mince coated with soft potatoes and fried to get a golden brown and crispy coating)
But it’s not all non-veg. She says, “In terms of vegetarian dishes, CKP meals also feature vadecha sambar, which is quite famous, and vaalachi khichdi, which is prepared with broad beans.” That being said, it’s not unsurprising for leafy vegetables like methi to be cooked with dried fish, so definitely discuss your food preferences before you show up for dinner. Priya remembers watching her grandmother stuffing brinjals with dried prawns to make bharli vangi sode ghalun (you’ll taste this if you go for one of her Authenticook meals). She says she learnt to cook this kind of food from her mother and aunts, who also helped curate the menu for the meal.
(Goud ghavan - Mini pancakes rolled with the goodness of a sweet coconut relish)
For dessert, expect goad ghavan, a sweet-savoury pancake of sorts that comes topped with a coconut relish. Coconut features in other CKP desserts too, like bharli keli, which is banana that’s stuffed with coconut and then steamed, or ninava, which is made of rava, jaggery, elaichi powder and coconut.
(A variety of traditional dishes prepared by Priya. Check out details here)
This Sunday (April 29th), Priya is bringing her thali to Tvum Restaurant in Kalyani Nagar, Pune. With a couple of additions to the usual menu, it’s a slightly more elaborate meal, so make sure you go with enough of an appetite. This is a one time exclusive pre-ticketed event with unlimited food! Sign up now.