India is a vast country, geographically division of the republic is done in five parts, but Gastronomically the same could not be possible as each parts are further divided in subparts and they have a great diversity in their food habits, culinary style and quality & quantity of ingredients.
One of the sub region of India is Mithilanchal. The region is dominated by a clan of Maithil Brahmins, who take a great pride in their Vedic culture and consider their Customs to be guided by Shastras. Infact in ancient and medieval history the region was known as “Videh” and it had its spread in erstwhile south Nepal and Bihar as it’s boundary defined in Brihat Vishnu Puran, “River Gandaki in West, Kaushiki (Koshi) in East, Himalayas in North and Ganga in south.
The region is already much popular for its art , literature, culture , and now cuisine. Infact maithil cuisine is such a practice that serves all kind of need of all group of people for different kind of consumptions. The service style of the cuisine has little similarity with that of “Tabal d’ hote” ( Table of the Host) of French , yet different being all preparations served together in a platter and consumed at once . Since there is no course wise meal practice therefore there is no well defined Gastronomique practice too, and hence people give equal importance to all kind of preparations and take pleasure in enjoying each n every delicacies to the fullest. Unlike others Maithils enjoy both the quality and quantity of the food and this is the characteristics that differentiates the cuisine and people from others. The best manifestation of this seen in any Traditional Maithil wedding ( considered to be a very classical marriage ceremony ever in any culture.) The rituals of the marriage continues for four consecutive days and small- big family activities happening for an year almost. The hospitality offered and marriage ceremony is an untold story in its own. The dinning activity continues for 3-4 hrs with a group of domestic women performing their folk songs.
Maithils always give immense priority to milk products in their food which could perfectly be measured with this old saying “ Aadi Ghee aur Ant Dahi, oyi Bhojan k Bhojan kahi” ( A meal is the Meal that starts with Ghee and ends with Yogurt)
The meal practice in mithilanchal is as common as the normal food habit of people which is Breakfast , Lunch and Dinner. People also like enjoying some tit bits during evening with a cup of tea. The best breakfast time favorite is “Chura – Dahi” (beaten rice with a thick coating of creamy curd) the table condiments used is salt, green chillies and home made pickles , a spicy mixed vegetable item could also be served along with this item as a side dish. During summer the same Chura is consumed with best quality mango pulp, and the dish is called “Chura Aam” . “Poori – Aloo dum” is an another breakfast item that people like having along with a sweet dish “Jalebi” ( roundels of deep fried fermented flour batter dipped in sugar syrup). Apart from that there are several other items like Chini wala Roti, Chilha ( pan cake made out of flour batter) , Suzi ke halwa ( porridge prepared from semolina), etc which is preferred for the breakfast.
For evening snacks a range of Bhujas are consumed like Chura ka Bhuja ( beaten rice shallow fried with sliced onion , chopped green chillies and green peas), Makai ke Lawa ( Pop corns), Masalgar Murhi ( Rice pops mixed with chopped green chillies, Onion, coriander leaf, salt and few drops of mustard oil) etc.
Maithils are also a big time sweet lovers. Varities of Kheer and other sweet item is prepared as a dessert course.one of the famous among them is Makhana ka Kheer ( a sweet dish prepared with Lotus seed , Milk and Dry nuts). Malpua is another popular sweet item, which is much different from the malpua prepared in north India, both are prepared from the flour batter only but in north India after deep frying malpua is dipped in sugar syrup while in Mithilanchal the batter it self is sweetened and it is a dry preparation which could be stored for 2-3 days. There are also sweet preservatives made out of fruit pulps like Ammath ( layered mango pulp sundried and cut into small chunks), Kumhar ke murabba, Papita ke murabba, Dhatrikak murabba etc.
The introduction about Mithila Cuisine would remain incomplete without a reference on Paan ( betel leaves). According to an old saying Paan , Maach and Makhan ( betel leaves, fish and lotus seed) is not found even in the paradise, so one should enjoy these things on earth only so not to regret later. A sweet betel leaf is flavoured with Sweet fennel, cardamom, clove, rose petals, sugar crystal etc.which is taken after completion of the meal in order to make it complete.