Sunday, November 27, 2005


This article is part of a special series called "The A-Z of Marathi food". India is the land of diversity. Each of the 28 states in India has a unique cuisine but the Indian food served in restaurants represents only a tiny fraction of our culinary heritage. I come from the western Indian state of Maharashtra. Capital: Bombay (Mumbai). Population: 96 million (only 11 countries in the world have a population higher than Maharashtra). Language: Marathi. Traditional Marathi food is earthy and humble, diverse and very tasty. It also remains relatively unknown to non-marathis. Its time to change that. I invite you to join me on an alphabetical culinary tour of my state. We will go through the letters A to Z and make a dish with each letter to show-case Marathi cuisine.

K is for Kothimbir Vadi and Koshimbir.

I'm excited about the letter "K". The "K" of Marathi food is rich in foods that are used for day-to-day cooking: kanda (onion), kakdi (cucumber), kobi (cabbage) and karle (bitter gourd), which is about the only vegetable that I do not eat with gusto, although I will still manage to eat it. Kela (bananas) are the ubiquitous, affordable, nutritious fruit that I love. Another "K" word finds its way into almost every savory dish: kothimbir (cilantro), the one herb that I use a bunch of every week. Among prepared dishes, koshimbir (raita) is a side-dish that is served in some form at almost every meal (note how kothimbir and koshimbir sound very similar but are really two different things!). Some special "K"s (no pun intended) are kaju (cashews), kismis (raisins), kesar (saffron) and karanji (fried turnovers filled with a sweet coconut-poppy filling, containing kaju, kismis and kesar!). One "K" that is the universal Indian comfort food is khichdi-kadhi.
For "K", I chose two dishes that complement each other perfectly as part of a single meal. Kwords
{Foreground left: fried kothimbir vadi, Foreground right: koshimbir or raita}
The first is Kothimbir Vadi, a savory cilantro cake which is first steamed and then fried until crisp. This is a quintissential Marathi dish, and I so wanted to try making it myself! I am happy to report that is very easy to make and turns out very tasty indeed. Cilantro is my favorite herb and this dish really showcases cilantro instead of giving it the seemingly superfluous role of a garnish. Kothimbir vadi can be served as a snack with any chutney but I really love eating it as a side dish with dal and rice. I took this recipe from the Mumbai Masala site (it sounded quite authentic) and simplified it further. The one special equipment you need to make this dish is a steamer. If you own a pressure cooker, it was be used without the "weight" to steam this vadi. I chose to fashion a steamer from a pot of boiling water with a steel sieve fitted into it and the vessel placed on the sieve and covered (there is a picture below illustrating this contraption). If you own an *actual* steamer, well, you're lucky aren't you?
The steamed vadi is perfectly fine for eating on its own (a very tasty and healthy snack indeed). Of course it tastes even better when fried and crispy :) Alternatively, if you would like something in between, make a "tadka" of oil, mustard and cumin seeds and pour over slices of steamed vadi.

Kothimbir Vadi
(serves 4-6)
2 cups packed cilantro leaves, chopped fine
1 cup chickpea flour/besan
1 tbsp. rice flour
1/4 cup mixed flours (ragi or millet flour/ atta or wheat flour/ any other you have on hand)
4 green chillies, minced fine
1 tsp. ginger-garlic paste
1 tsp. sesame seeds
1 tsp. poppy seeds
2 tsp. lemon juice
1 tsp. turmeric
pinch of asafoetida
1 tsp. garam masala
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. sugar
salt to taste
Oil for frying
1. Mix all ingredients together in a bowl, except for the oil.
2. Add enough water to make a thick batter and stir well to remove all lumps.
3. Grease a flat vessel. Pour the batter into the vessel.
4. Steam for about 30 minutes till a skewer inserted in the middle comes clean.
5. Let cool, unmold and cut into slices.
6. Heat 1/4 inch oil in a skillet and fry the slices till crispy and golden.

Our next dish is koshimbir. This Marathi version of raita is distinguished by the presence of peanut powder, which just makes it so much tastier! The koshimbir can be made with yogurt or without (in which case you might like to add a dash of lemon juice for the tang).

Koshimbir (Raita)

(serves 4-6)
1 cucumber, peeled and diced fine
1/2 onion, diced fine
1 tomato, diced fine
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. sugar
1/4 tsp. cumin powder
1/4 tsp. coriander powder
2 tbsp. roasted peanuts, powdered
1 tbsp. cilantro, minced
4 tbsp plain yogurt
few tbsp. milk
Method: Mix everything together in a bowl, using milk if necessary to thin down the consistency.

That was a very satisfying meal! We meet next week for the letter "L"...wonder if there are any suggestions for this one?


  1. Wow Nupur! Excellent result. I heard about this unique dish of Maharashtra. Now seeing is believing :-) Another one to our must-try list. Thank you for the post. We liked it.

  2. I love the kothimbir vadi recipe especially the steaming part. Sounds almost like a fried dhokla but I am sure so much cilantro gives a superb taste. The raita is quite unique with the peanut powder. I have to try it too:-)

  3. Nupur - these both sound delicious! I'm afraid I don't have the right equipment to do the steaming though - I only have a small steamer insert (with a post in the middle!). I'm going to have to start looking for something like yours - I keep seeing things I'd like to make!

  4. Nupur,both the recipes look and sound delicious.They both are on my "must-try" list..:):)

  5. I love kothimbir wadi... I like 'em steamed best, although I probably wouldnt say no to having 'em deepfried! :)

  6. deliciously appetising, I would say! "K" recipes you have mentioned are quite appealing ,looking fwd to see more such recipes:)

  7. Nupur Buddy.. Hope u remember me. I mistook you for another nupur and linked you...I guess it was egg rassa.. Guess what i have also posted a similar recipe yet again.. kadhi and everything, and the vada...

    Somehow, your kothimbir vadi is very similar to a Manipuri delicacy.. Not fried though, but the steamed version. exactly similar but very different.. We use a special herb only available in Manipur.. in place of the kothimbir, and yes indeed have to use kothimbir in place of the herb that is available only back home when we cook it outside manipur. But I would one day like to treat you with the PAKNAM( we call the steam vadi that) with the Manipuri herb I heard it is available in Chinatowns In US. I will ask my friends there what they call it. so you may try out.. And when we ste it we use another leave to cover or pack the pancake.. This leave is also different, and it gives a flavour to the paknam. I guess it is turmeric plant's leaves, I will ask my mom.

    may I sugest another thing, if you can get pea flour( not chick pea but pea or matar) try your vadi with that.. Trust me you will always like to have vadis with mattar besan, not available easily in western india though..Has a diff taste, believe me.
    Have a look at my pakodas at At AnthonysKitchen

  8. Nupur, the thaali looks so appetizing. Wish I could eat one of those wadis NOW!


  9. This I've gotto try!


  10. Nupur, I once tasted Dhokla in Mumbai, after which I hv never tasted anything like that again...

    It was too yummy, am not sure if it is Maharashtrian or Gujrati ...but if u do know the traditional recipe, share it with us :)

  11. dear nupur, k dishes were great. now for L. the obvious choice is ladus with a wide variety to choose from. or lasanachi chutney,or lalyachya purya[marathi name for sevpuri,], of course not to forget our sadabahar[good for all occasions] lonache.[pickle, again a wide variety to choose from].all the best, love, yoma.

  12. Hi VKN, yeah this dish is quintissentially Marathi, hope you get to try it.

    Hi Mika, kothimbir vadi is not quite as fluffy and airy as dhokla, but yeah, the deep cilantro flavor is amazing!

    Hi Cathy, I just improvised my steamer :) but I hear that bamboo steamers can be really inexpensive too.

    Hi Sailu, let me know if they work, if you try them!

    Hi Shammi, the fried version gets so crispy and good...mmm :)

    Hi Lera, thanks!

    Hi Anthony, its great to hear about ur traditional recipes! I will look for pea flour, it sounds so tasty. And yeah, Marathis use turmeric leaves for steaming too...they give such a subtle and delicious flavor.

    Hi Faffer, wish you were here to share the meal!

    Hi Vaibhav, let me know if it works!

    Hi ladyinred, Dhokla is traditonally gujarati, although it is wildly popular in Maharashtra. I am planning to try it soon, will post about it ( now that I have a steamer rigged!). One thing I can tell you is that the ready-to-mix packet type of dhokla did not work very well for me.

    Hi Mathy, wonderful article! thanks for the link!

    HI Yoma, nice suggestions for L! Thanks :)

  13. I have got to thank you, although this comment is after so many days after your post...

    I tried this for the first time last weekend when I invited couple for friends for dinner and it was a success...thanks to your easy to follow recipes!!

  14. Hi Nupur, I tried Kothambir wadi for the first time and it turned out really good. Thanks for the recipe!

  15. Hello Napur, I found this steamed savory dish searching for savory cakes. Cilantro is absolutely my favorite herb! I have a question.
    When steaming do you cover the pan?

    Fortunately, I have a steamer, and am doing lots of discovery with steaming various breads, sweet and savory cakes and muffins.

    I look forward to trying this one!


  16. Hi Nora, yes, while steaming, I do cover the pan. That way the steam gets trapped inside the pan and the cooking is a lot more efficient. Hope you enjoy this recipe!

  17. Napur, Thank you for your reply. I was not clear on my question. What I meant was do you cover the pan which the batter is in? I cover the pan which is doing the steaming and I cover the pan with the batter that I am steaming. Just checking. It seems that the batter pan also has to be tightly sealed otherwise the moisture from the steam keeps the batter too moist, even if it is cooked. Anyway, that has been my experience. What kind of cover do you use, to cover the batter?

    Thanks so much. :)

  18. Hello Nupur,

    I have used your recipe as a base for savory steamed muffins. I did not want to fry the end product in oil. I also thought that adding water would make it too wet, especially with the steaming method. The result was delicious and think this would taste great with the raita you have also prepared.

    Thanks for the inspiration.

  19. I do not own a steamer so I cook the kothimbir vadis and dhoklas in my idli container and then cut them in half so they turn out to be semicircles rather than squares. Same taste - different shape!!

  20. Hi Nupur, I liked your Kothimbir wadi receipy.Its really nice and tried it today itself but wanted to ask one thing instead of steaming it in pressure cooker can i keep it in microwave and cover it for sometime till it gets done because i make dhokala that way and gets perfect square shapes because of Pyrex square glass boxes and which is very easy and fast that i found.Please let me know....Thanks for the wonderful receipy.

  21. Mayura, I have never tried using the microwave for this, but you can always give it a shot. I think it should work. If you do try it, let us know if it works!

  22. hey there

    I tried this recipe and it turned out perfect. thank you so much. ive saved your post to favorites and im going to try some more of the stuff from here. I promise.

  23. It was great! I am just waiting for my next set of guests to try out on them. My photography is not so good, but you could check out my post at

    Thanks for the amazing recipe.

  24. Hi Nupur...Made your vadis for this months MBP event and it was delicious...we loved it...u've mentioned the serving size as 4-6 people, but it was so good it wasn't even sufficient for the two of us:)...

  25. Perfect recipe!

  26. Congratulations on your new baby!

    Many years after you first posted about it, I tried this recipe last weekend! Your blog turned up on a google search.

    I loved the vadi and they were a big hit at my party! I added some crushed peanuts into the mix. I fashioned my own steamer too but it took almost an hour for the mix to cook. I included some sesame seeds in the tadka as well. Yum!

  27. I love your blog and love this recipe. I am from Mumbai and kothimbir vadi is such a favorite snack for me. My dad would get it from a small shop in Dadar known for their batata wada and kothimbir vadi.
    Will try your recipe out. It looks so good.

  28. Hi Nupur, I am going to try this on the weekend. Usually my mom makes kothibirchi vadi during Ganesh Chaturthi, however, i am going to give it a try since i am pretty home-sick atm haha
    Wish me luck! :)

  29. Hiiiiii I tried kothimbir wadi for potluck and its turned out good everyone like this yummy n testy kothimbir wadi.


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