How a regional Mumbai recipe embraces winter produce

The Pathare Prabhu community in the city uses the freshest ingredients of the season to prepare an elaborate dish of mixed vegetables ‘ghada’

Talking about his community’s food, Rujuta Vijayakar often likes to say, “Our recipes are super easy and super quick.” She belongs to the Pathare Prabhu community, believed to be one of the oldest residents of Mumbai. Their cuisine is known for rich and refined dishes sprinkled liberally with non-vegetarian ingredients.

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Their daily diet consists of various fish curries such as bhujne prepared with garlic, fresh coriander, onion and chili powder; that’s it made with extra ginger, tamarind, garam masala bhujne ingredients; and purnache seasoned with onions, garam masala, red chili powder and cumin seeds. These flavorful curries take no more than 10 minutes to cook as there is no elaborate grinding or tempering involved.

There is, however, an exception to this rule. The winter special ghada it’s a mixed vegetable curry that requires several ingredients, love and hours of work. The first season ghada is prepared on Champashashthi, which falls on the sixth day of Margasheersha the month which is November 29 this year.

This marks the end Chaturmas— a four-month period of abstinence from certain foods, such as eggplant, onions, garlic, eggs, fish and meat.

“We are supposed to give up all these, but eggplant is the only thing we completely stop during these 4 months,” says Vijayakar, adding, “So we celebrate this day with a lot of dishes that have eggplant as the main ingredient .” These include Vangyachya Kaptya (eggplant slices in the pan), Vangayche Bharit (fried and mashed eggplant curry with coconut milk), Vangi-bhat (masala rice with eggplant) and the boyfriend ghada. Apart from eggplant, several seasonal vegetables such as tubers and beans find their way in ghada. Prepare several times until mid-February or as long as seasonal vegetables are available.

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Making Ghada it can turn into a family activity. In Vijayakar’s home, her son and grandson handle the cleaning and chopping of the vegetables, while she and her husband handle the actual preparation. They also make non-vegetarian versions. “We can’t live without our daily dose of fish,” she says with a smile.

“Adding fish or meat to vegetarian dishes is a specialty of Pathare Prabhu,” says Kalpana Talpade, author of Kalpana’s kitchen, a Pathare Prabhu recipe book. He also runs a YouTube channel with the same title. Kheemyachya shingdya (baked Karanjee stuffed with minced mutton), kolambichi or bomblachi patvad (colocasia leaf rolls with shrimp / Bombay duck), banole (cabbage, chana dal cake with prawns), pangoji (wheat fritters with small shrimp) are some of their most prized snacks. Adding dried or fresh prawns of all sizes to vegetable curries is a common practice. Talpade explains: “Ghada has three versions – mutton, gholichyacha (black-spotted croaker) and colambicha (prawns). It is truly a seasonal delicacy because, apart from winter vegetables, even the black-spotted root tastes best in winters.”

Ghada (vegetarian)

1.5 kg large eggplants
125 g carrots
125 g yams
125 g purple yam
125 g alcohol (turnip cabbage)
125 g beetroot
125 g shingada (water chestnuts)
125 g green peas
125 g surti papdi (beans)
125 g val papdi (flat beans)
125 g ghevda (french beans)
125 g pavte (field beans)
125 g double beans (beans)
125 g fresh chana verde (green chickpeas)
125 g hazelnuts (soaked overnight)
4 large mashed bananas*, cut into one-inch pieces with the skin on
1 stick of sugar cane, chopped into one-inch pieces
3 large onions, finely chopped
1.5 teaspoons asafoetida
1.5 teaspoon of turmeric powder
2 tablespoons ginger garlic paste
3-4 tbsp red chilli powder
4-5 tablespoons parbhi sambar powder
350 ml of cooking oil
Salt and jaggery to taste
Coriander leaves, chilli and spring onion (optional)


Cut all the vegetables into medium-sized cubes. Heat the oil in a pan. Add asafoetida. Lower the heat and add the sliced ​​onion. Once the onions become translucent, add the ginger and garlic paste. Add all the beans and vegetables. Boil for 5 minutes. Keep the flame to a minimum. Add all the dry masala powders. Let it boil for half an hour with a lid of water*. Now add sugarcane and banana pieces and jaggery. Again, let it cook with the water cover on. Continue to stir once every 10-15 minutes. All the vegetables cook well in the oil and their juices and begin to release a mixed flavor. Do not add water as it could overcook the vegetables. It will be ready after 75-85 minutes. Each piece must be well cooked, but must retain its shape and identity. Don’t worry if some of the vegetables disintegrate, it will only add to the texture.

Gholichyacha or Kolambicha Ghada

4 cups filleted fish pieces or shrimp
2-3 tablespoons of ginger-garlic paste
1 teaspoon of turmeric powder
Salt and chili powder to taste

Coat the fish or shrimp with spices and salt. Then add to vegetarian ghadamix well and leave for 8-10 minutes on low heat.

Mutton Ghada

1 kg mutton on the bone (1-1.5 inch pieces each)
3-4 tablespoons of ginger-garlic paste
1.5 teaspoon of turmeric powder
Salt, chilli powder and parbhi sambar* to taste

Marinate the pieces with the spices and salt. Let it rest for at least half an hour. Pressure cook for 4-5 whistles. Add this to the vegetarian ghada, mix well and let it simmer on low heat for 10-15 minutes.

1. Water cover: It is a plate containing water that is kept on a pan while cooking. This allows the vegetables to cook without burning. This technique is used when you cook something in a pan without adding water.

2. Parbhi Sambhar powder is a Pathare Prabhu Garam Masala which has more than 30 ingredients mixed in specific proportions. You can procure it by calling Rujuta Vijayakar 9892075622 or Ronica Vijayakar 9769661824.

3. You can replace parbhi sambar with regular garam masala (3 tbsp), coriander powder (1 tbsp) and cumin powder (1 tsp)

4. Rajeli Keli or Rajeli Bananas are thicker, longer and have a sweet-sour taste. They are available in Mumbai, where vegetable vendors in Vasai sell their homemade produce. You can replace them with other similar varieties from Mangalore, Kerala and Tamilnadu.

5. Marinated fish or boiled meat should be added to the vegetarian ghada when it is 95% done. Mixing and cooking everything together gives the desired taste.

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The final course.  (Photo: Kunal Vijayakar)

The final course. (Photo: Kunal Vijayakar)

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