Who are Kokani Muslims? What's their cuisine? How's it different? These are some of the questions that are frequently popped to me. So I decided it’s time I did a simple series #DiaryOfAKokaniMuslim around our culture especially it's unique gastronomy and along the way also share practices prevalent in the community so that everyone gets to know us Kokani Muslims a little more.
Here is the very first leaf from the diary that one should know about the community.
We are natives to the Konkan coast of Maharashtra state only. Yes, we have migrated to different parts of India and the world but in the lands of Maharashtra lie are hometowns where centuries ago the Arab traders even African sea-farers landed and mingled with the local population to give rise to a very distinct community. In the map alongside are the coastal districts where the Kokani Muslims primarily have been residing for centuries. The Thane district today stands further bifurcated into Thane and Palghar (not separately shown in the map) districts.
Often many people ask me what's the Kokani Muslim cuisine about and my answer to them is it's a beautiful melange of some wonderful cuisines as shown in the diagram. The cuisines lend their influence in terms ingredients used, recipe techniques, occasion of preparation and much more. The use of ingredients - staples to speciality, is inspired from all the influencing cuisines. However, not only specialty ingredients like dry fruits, saffron etc brought by the Arab traders but even how the humble egg is incorporated in some dishes will showcase the coming together of Maharashtrian & Arab influence under one roof in a beautiful way.
Like the Maharshtrian ghavan and our ghavne differ in a simple use of egg in our version, which is said to be inspired from Arab style pancake chebab while the other ingredients of the ghavne showcase evidence of the Maharashtrian impact in terms of rice, coconut being used. In saandan versions prepared by some families too, egg is incorporated. The use of egg in saravle too points at a Middle Eastern impact. The list of dishes in our community striking a fine balance of these cuisine influences and yet retaining their unique appeal is just endless.
The Mughlai influence though needs to be still substantiated whether it is something that traveled through parts of India itself and reached the community or is something that is a recent doing of our community members inspired by the Islamic culture brought and prevalent in the North by the central Asian Islamic dynasties.
So in my future posts I intend to apprise readers of all wonders our cuisine holds, will also be explaining various similarities and differences imbibed in our Kokani Muslim cuisine from the lovely gastronomies shown in the diagram.
- Regional Indian Food & Travel enthusiast