— Ruchi Lal

Be it French, Italian, English, Chinese or Indian, there are a large number of psychedelic cuisines all over the world. Furthermore each country has its own melange of cuisines, which is defined by the states’ borders, just like their local dialects. The Southern part of the Indian subcontinent is known for its variety of “dosas” and “rasams”. Rajasthanis boast of their “dal battti-churma”. Gujrati’s are famous for their “khakhras-theplas”, and North India in general is famous for its own variety or curries, flatbreads and sweetmeats.

Cuisine in Bihar is essentially a mixture of “Bhojpuri”, “Maithili”, “Angika” and “Maghi” cuisines. It is predominantly vegetarian because of the influence of the age old Buddhist and Hindu values. However, there is also a section of people who do indulge in eating meat, chicken and most commonly fish (“rehu”, “jhinga”,”tengra” and the likes ). The rivers “Sone”, “Gandak”, “Ganga” and “Koshi” flow through this state and contributes to the primary reason for the fish eating population in Bihar. The cuisine of Bihar, though mostly North-Indian, is very heavily influenced by Bengali cuisines, and we have our own versions of “Maach-bhaat” (fish and rice).  Food and delicacies in Bihar are often construed by the seasons or festivals celebrated in the state.

14th January; “Makar Sakranti”, marks the start of the New Year according to the Hindu calendar. We Biharis have our own way of celebrating the first harvest. “Makar Sakranti” is celebrated by offering “choora” (flattened rice), “gur” (jaggery) and a sweet made of ‘til’ (sesame), called “tilkut” to the deities and are consumed as “prashad”. “Choora” with “dahi” (curd) and sugar/gur, makes up for a delectable and extremely healthy breakfast. When mixed with cooked peas, it makes for a tasty evening snack known as “choora-matar”.

Biharis, all over the globe are celebrated for their “litti-chokha” which is just a miniscule part of the actual Bihari cuisine. The remarkable thing about this particular cuisine, is our ability to have ‘smoked food’ like “baigan ka bharta” (mashed brinjal) and “aloo chokha” (mashed potatoes) infused with mustard oil and red chillies.  “Litti chokha” however, is not the only signature Bihari food as one would believe so.
“Kadhi-bari” is a welcome dish on any given day. Soft fried “besan” dumplings cooked in “dahi” goes perfectly well with steaming hot boiled rice. We also have our own Bihari version of “Punjabi Chole” called “ghugni”, which partners well with “poori” or a simple “paratha”.

Sattu” or roasted chana forms something of a staple diet in Bihar and is commonly known as the poor man’s food. One can have it in any form; mix it with cold water and it becomes a coolant on a hot summer’s day, stuff it in “parathas”, and it transforms into an absolutely scrumptious dish which is consumed with “aachaar” (pickle), and is the main ingredient for “littis”, which are balls of flour stuffed with “sattu” and roasted on a tandoor/oven.
Traditionally nearly every Bihari household makes “Khichdi” on Saturday afternoons. It is a mix of rice, dal and sometimes vegetables, steamed together and topped with ghee. Accompanied with “chokha”, “papad” and “aachaar” this can very well be at the top of my list of favourite things.

Dhuska” is a traditional recipe from Bihar/Jharkhand. Its batter is made by grinding soaked chana dal and rice with green chillies and garlic. It is then fried, and is ideal with “ghugni” or “aachaar”.

And who can forget the taste of hot crispy “kachdis” on those cold winter evenings. Chana dal is soaked in water and grinded. Then it is mixed with onions, “dhaniya” (coriander leaves), green chillies and then fried like “pakodas” and is served with “dhaniya chutney”.

Dalpuri” The golden and deep-fried pooris stuffed with dal tempered with spices are very common during festivals and special occasions. They are made with or without salt and are often eaten with rice kheer or pickle. In Bihar, most people use chana dal and wheat flour to make it. It is also eaten with tomato chokha and coriander chutney.

Lauki Aloo Stew” Kaddu (Bottle gourd) or Lauki Stew is a very tasty and delicious dish of Bihar. During summer generally everyone prefers to have something light and easy to digest. Take Kaddu and peeled Potato, both cut into small pieces, chopped onions, ginger garlic chopped, red chili, small cardamom, large cardamom, clove, cinnamon, black pepper, turmeric powder and little oil. Put all the ingredients in a pressure cooker, add a cup of water, salt to taste and close the lid. After 2 whistles, turn off the gas stove and let the cooker to cool down. After removing the lid, garnish with green coriander leaves and serve it with rice, roti or paratha.

Aloo ka Chokha” It is made with boiled potatoes mashed with raw mustard oil, onions, green chilli and chopped coriander leaves. For this chokha, mustard oil is key ingredient to enhance its taste.

Bhang Ki Pakodi” Just like Thandai which is laced with Bhang, in Bihar Pakori is prepared with Bhang in the batter, especially during holi.

Bihari Chiken” The spicy hot chicken is one of the popular dishes of Bihar available in any of the non-vegetarian restaurants of Bihar and also cooked at households.

Mutton Chaap” The spicy semi gravy mutton dish is commonly eaten on Holi with Pua.

Bihari Kebab” Bihar is equally well-known for its delicious non-vegetarian delights. Kebab (small pieces of chicken or mutton) marinated in yoghurt, ginger garlic paste, chilli powder, and a few other desi spices for few hours and cooked. The strips of chicken and pieces of mutton are used to prepare it. Patna is famous for Mutton Kebabs with a rich and historical origin. How to make Bihari Kabab See Video

Sarso Masala Machli” The delicious sarso ka masala wala machli is the speciality of Bihar and is an unbeatable recipe. It is eaten with rice and / or chapati.

Talking of “pakodas”, I just have to mention the variety of “pakodas”, or “bachkas” as we call them made exclusively in Bihar, be it “August Ka Phool”, “baigan”, “aaloo”, “pyaz” or even “machlee ka anda” (fish eggs), we Biharis can make “bachkas” out of anything. These are made by dipping vegetables in a batter made of “besan” and different masalas.

Another food type worth mentioning here are the various types of “saag” grown in Bihar and cooked in mustard oil and garlic.  Be it “lal saag” “bhatua ka saag”, “noni ka saag”, all are equally delectable with rice and ghee.

Macchi-dhokha” as the name suggests is a mirage in our food chain. It is the Bihari version of the rajasthani “gatte ki subzi” this is made in paste made of yellow mustard seeds (sarson). This curry is made in the same mustard paste as “sarson wali macchli” and has the same shape as fish pieces, hence the name “macchi-dhokha”.  

Peas are prevalent mostly during the winter season. They account for a certain dish called “nimona” which is absolutely perfect for cold winter afternoons with steaming hot rice. This dish is essentially a mix of boiled peas and ground peas made into a soup.

Indian delicacies are often accompanied by either flat-breads or various types of rice/pulao. “Tehri” is one such dish. It is rice cooked with vegetables, mostly potatoes, “gobhi” (cauliflower) and peas. It goes well with curd/raita.

Bihar also gets to boast of its local sweets, like “pedakiya”, “thekua”, “khaja”, “laung-lata”, “pedas” from Devgarh, “pantuas”,” khurmas”,”gur-anarsa”, “lai” and not to forget the one and only “malpua” made specially during Holi.

Sattu Paratha” It is one of the healthiest breakfast options prepared in every Bihari house. The sattu is mixed with spices and filled in wheat dough balls, rolled and cooked with oil or ghee on a tawa to form sattu paratha. It is absolutely delicious when eaten with pickle, mixed vegetables and some yoghurt.

Kadhi Badi” Kadhi Badi is a common savory dish, made often in most households of Bihar. Even during the auspicious festival of Holi, it is prepared in some houses. Gram flour is the used to make the Badi or the Pakodas. The gravy i.e Kadhi and the badi are prepared from besan . The gravy also consists of curd. It is usually eaten with rice or puris.

Chana Ghugni” Chana Ghughni is a spicy-tasty item from the food of Bihar. It is a dry recipe which can be eaten well with chapattis, rice and puffed rice (moori). It is eaten as an evening snack, along with “Chuda ka bhuja” (flattened rice). To make this the chickpea or lal chana is soaked overnight and then prepared with crushed onion, ginger and garlic, and tomato paste with spices, cooked in a pressure cooker to make a complete protein packed dish.

Ole ki Chutney (Suran)” Ole ki Chatni is eaten with any snack and served instead of pickle with the main course. It is prepared by boiling, peeling and mashing it with salt, lemon juice, chopped garlic and green chillies into it. It is mostly prepared during winter season to protect from cold.

Aloo Bhujia” Aloo bhujia is potato stir fry in Bihari style. It is a popular North Indian dish from the state of Bihar and served with paratha or rice and dal.

Bihari Khichdi” Kichri is one of the delicious and healthy foods, prepared in every house of Bihar during lunch time. Definitely, in all traditions Khichdi is prepared in a different manner but in Bihar, it is prepared with a mix of rice and moong dal and served with pickle, papad, chatni, aloo ka bharta and pure ghee.

Champaran Meat” Originating out of Champaran district in Bihar, Champaran Meat is cooked in a mix of ghee and mustard oil there is little water in this dish. The gravy is a rich mix of spices & fats. Typically, it is cooked in earthen pot over charcoal fire. People love the way whole garlic is cooked with meat - and mashing it in rice. How to make Champaran Meat See Video