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Bhojpuri cuisine (Hindi: भोजपुरी खाना) is a part of North Indian and Nepalese cuisine and a style of food preparation common amongst the Bhojpuri people living in the Bhojpuri region of Bihar and Uttar Pradesh. Bhojpuri foods are mostly mild and are less hot in term of spices used, but could be hotter and spicier according to individual preference. The food is tailor-made for Bhojpuri lifestyle in which the rural folk burn up a lot of calories in the fields. Bhojpuri people take pride in celebrating various festivals and religious rites with food; as a result, their food resembles the delicacies offered to deities.
Unlike western perception, in which any Indian gravy dish is called curry, Bhojpuri cuisine traces no history with the use of curry powder or curry leaves. The rich gravy dishes of this region, in fact all of North India where curry leaf is an alien spice, can be considered stews rather than curries.
Wheat and rice are the staple diet of a majority of the peoples. Lentils (daal), beans (lobiya, rajma), meat (mutton, lamb and chicken; beef and pork are avoided), green vegetables (sabzi), leafy vegetables (saag), paneer, freshwater prawns (jhinga) and fish (machhari) are major constituents of the regular diet of the peoples.
Breakfast in the region is roti based and includes a variety of breads made up of whole wheat or refined wheat flour which includes roti, parathas, stuffed parathas and is made with sabzi, dahi (yogurt), or raita.
On special occasions Halwa-Puri, Kheer/sevai-Puri, Pua-Dahi, Chhola-Bhatura or Naan served with any meat dish are commonly served as breakfast. A more common breakfast served as street food includes Puri-Sabzi, Kachori and Jalebi.
Lunch is rice based and includes Dal (split beans like chana dal, masoor dal, moong dal, urad dal, arhar/tur dal etc. are pressure cooked with water, turmeric powder and salt), sabzi-korma (vegetable or meat cooked in rich but mildly-spicy and balanced gravy), chokha (boiled, roasted and mashed potatoes, eggplants, tomatoes are mixed with several herbs and seasoning), chutney (dhaniya ka chutney or coriander chutney is the most traditional chutney of the region with rich flavour of coriander, green chilli, garlic, lemon and mustard oil), bhujia (pan fried potatoes cut in finger shapes), pickle and may also include rotis for those who prefer it over rice. On special occasions, several rice dishes like pulao, biryani etc. are served and several changes can be observed in the lunch. In fact, it can be completely changed and then it could have many delicious dishes, sweets and savouries.
Generally served with tea, at evening time. It includes many kind of snacks mostly deep fried and salted. Most of the time, as a substitute for it, a handful and generous amount of dry fruits are eaten like kishmish (raisins), badam (almonds), khajur/chohara (dates), zameeni badam/chinia badam (peanuts), akharot (walnuts), chillgooza (pinenut), kaju (cashews), pista (pistachios) and anjeer (dried figs) soaked in milk.
Dinner is also roti based and is eaten with sabzi-korma or roti is broken into a bowl of hot milk (can be sweetened), and then eaten. It is often called doodh-roti. Sometimes, litti is grilled over charcoal or is baked in cowdung cakes or charcoal in a clay oven and is eaten with chokha or murga (chicken korma). Dinner could change at special occasions and can be replaced by meat dishes like korma (meat with gravy), kebab and kofta (meat balls with spicy gravy) and served with tandoori roti (harder than the usual pan baked roti) or naan and Salaad (salad).
Since ancient times, peoples of this region have been practicing non-vegetarian along with vegetarian diets to meet the need for protein, vitamins and fat. Also non-vegetarian dishes are seen as delicacies and are eaten with great relish. It has always been a custom to serve the guests any non-vegetarian dish at least once in their term of stay.
In Vedic times, meat of goats, sheep, oxen, bulls, swines and horses were popular. But after the decline of Vedic Hinduism and uprising of Modern Hinduism along with direct influences from newborn religions like Buddhism and Jainism resulted in decrease of heavy dependence upon meat and ended up with only few kinds of meat yielding animals being edible like goat, sheep and swine, and because Cows got an auspicious position in modern Hinduism, the meat of cows, oxen and bulls became taboo. Later on after the influence of Islam, swine also became a taboo. But still many Hindu families in remote areas of this region hunt for wild boars and Muslims can be still found enjoying beef and meat of Nilgai (Asian antelope). Nilgai is avoided among Hindus because they are mistaken to be cow like cattles and hence sacred.
After the arrival of British rulers, poultry became popular and now has become one of the largest contributor in meat yielding animals. But still mutton is regarded as the superior meat over poultry and fish.
Fishes have also been popular since ancient times due to a large number of big and small rivers flowing through the region. Freshwater fish and small freshwater prawns also form a good proportion in total meat consumption.
Amount of spices used in cooking are very few and sometimes can be just two or three kind of spices, which imparts a perfect aroma and taste, rather than putting all spices together and making the dish very spicy and hot. Among these spices, a few of them are used in any particular dish.
In the region, a festival is celebrated by preparing several delicious dishes. And the dishes are shared with all communities irrespective of religion or caste.
Also called Makar Sankranti is the first festival of the year. On this day, at morning, people eat Til ke laddu, Tilwa, Tilkut and Laai. And at lunch time, Chura-Dahi-Gur is eaten. And at evening special Khichdi is served along with melted ghee, Pickle, papar, chokha, chutney, and dahi.
This festival is celebrated as the last day of winter season and welcoming of spring season. On this day Halwa is made of semolina. And is eaten with Puri.
Holi is one of the largest festival of Bhojpuri region. On this day, meat dishes and alcoholic and non alcoholic drinks (thandai/bhang) are the main attraction. In large families, a Bakra/Khasi (he-goat/sheep) is bought few days before the festival, and is slaughtered on the day of festival. The backstrap and shoulder parts are cut into small pieces and marinated in garlic, onion and few spices and then skewered over charcoal to make Bihari Seekh Kebab. Liver (kaleji) is cut into small pieces and is pan fried with a little salt and pepper. And is one of the delicacies for children. While the rest part of the meat are cooked as korma. The korma is eaten with Pua (a batter of wheat flour and sugar with various dry fruits, deep fried in ghee). Meat dishes are eaten all day and the meat is also shared with neighbourers and relatives. Also a very sweet halwa made up of dry fruits, condensed milk and bhang is prepared.
On this day, the persons specially women who did fasting eat Phalahar (fruit diet).
This occasion is linked with special Halwas of Singhara (Chestnut) and Khas-Khas (Poppy seeds).
This day is known for the preparation of most delicious dishes including sweets and savouries. There are many rice and meat dishes cooked and eaten all day. "Sevaiyan" are major attraction on this day.
A day before the festival, women dedicate their whole day in preparing Perukia. And on the day of this festival, they offer this dessert and fruits to the God and after the worshiping, it is eaten as offering. It can be eaten for several days as it doesn't require preservation or refrigeration.
Satvik khana is eaten on all the nine days of Puja. And on tenth day i.e., Dussehra special dishes like Puri, Kachori, Dum-Aloo, Chhole, Jalebi Pua, Bari-Kadhi, Dahi-Bara, etc. are cooked. At evening after "Ravan-Dahan", there is tradition of meat eating.
On this day various kind of meat dishes, biryanis, barbecues, kebabs, koftas etc. are prepared and shared with peoples of all communities.
This is one of the largest festival of the region and people enjoy eating numerous kind of sweets and savouries, like gujia, and ladoo.
It is the largest festival of this region. It is celebrated 3 consecutive days. On first day "Nahay Khay", after the holy bath in river, boiled small grain "arwa chawal" is eaten with lauki ki sabzi (bottlegourd sautéd in ghee and li'l rock salt is added and cooked till done) and "Chane ki dal". On second day "Kharna", people take dip in holy Ganges and take the water home to cook Kheer (jaggery is used in place of sugar) and Puri. And is eaten as Prasad at night. Next day on "Dala Chhath" Thekua and belgrami is prepared by the women who are on fasting. After both the "Arghyas", on the fourth day, these sweets along with several fruits and dry fruits are served as Prasad. And is eaten for several days.
Some dishes popular in Bhojpuri cuisine include:
In Bhojpuri region, pickling is quite common and traditional. There are varieties of pickles (Pickle & Murabba) prepared in each and every home. Aachar includes, Aam (Mango), Aãwla (Amla), Imli (Tamarind), Mooli (Radish), Lehsun (Garlick), Nimbu (Lemon), Lemu (Lime), Gajar (Carrot), Gobhi (Cauli flower), Sonth (Dried Ginger), Laal aur Hara Marcha (Red and Green Chilli) and Murabbas are generally prepared from Aãwla (Amla), Cheri (Cherries), Aam (Mango), also called Amawat etc.
Raitas are prepared by mixing thick dahi (yogurt) with several vegetable, herbs and seasonings.