Undivided Bihar before the year 2000 was an amalgamation of 2 cultures... the civilization beyond the river Ganges - north Bihar and the other under Jharkhand influence. About Jharkhand's cuisines I have already mentioned in earlier post. This one is about Bihar!
North Bihar has a huge influence of River Ganga. the chief food is Fish and rice. On all auspicious and happy occasions Fresh water fish is cooked in 'sarso masala-curry' and served along with scented rice. This rice, called 'Mansuriya' is specialty of the region. The fresh water fishes from the river ganga is caught by fishermen and then kept draped in red Muslin to sustain its freshness till the time it is chopped and curry added. My mother has her maternal uncle's home situated in Hazipur, Bihar! As a child she remembers she had to cross the river in a steamer/ship and reach there.
The 'chiwda' or 'poha' is another favorite of the people. It can be consumed raw or mixed with 'jaggery' [ gudd] or used as a supplement of rice.
Bihari food without the mention of 'Litti-chokha' would be an injustice. The grounded gram flour called 'sattu' is mixed with panch foran, finely grated onions , chillies, dhaniya leaves and mixed properly. Then it is filled inside the flour dough and shaped into a sphere. Cooked in a brick/coal kiln , it is coated with desi ghee and served with 'Baigan-aloo- tamatar ka chokha' . This food has got nation-wide recognition and is a special addition to every party food nowadays.
P.S- I just love it! Yummm ;)
There is a ritual followed in every Bihari home, is that of preparing 'khichdi' on every Saturday. Well everyone knows what khichdi is, yet I would like to confess that it has been my companion through all thick and thin days, So I just adore it! Nothing could be so dainty and easy to cook at the same time. Simple and stylish-in a nutshell ;) An avid companion of Khichdi is 'Tilauri' which is a preparation of urad dal and sesame [til] . It is fried to match the grandeur of 'Papad' with khichdi.
Another favorite of the land is piththa. This dish is served everytime a daughter returns home. It could be complemented with green chutneys, dal-ki-poori, baigan ki sabzi, jamun, mangoes and kheer.
'Nimki'-a snack made out of maida that can give a tough competition to 'kurkure' and similar stuffs; khajoor/thekua- desi cookies , balushahi, gajaa, gatauri- are made specially for weddings or special occasions.
'Anarsa' is another sweet dish specific to Bihar. Some other includes 'Gujhiya /pedakiya' and 'moongaudi'.
Bihar is also a land of fruits. During the summer/monsoon there are n number of cuisines that can be made out of mangoes alone. My mum remember she used to see her grand-mum prepare 'amawat/aam-papad' by drying the juice and flavoring it with sweetening agents in huge quantities. Whenever affected by viral fever/heat stroke called 'loo' , a special aam panna called ' amjhora' was made with ripe mangoes to reduce the effect. Even I can remember my school days when after returning home first thing which I got to drink was this. Mango malpua, mango halwa, mango custard, mango shake, juice, kalakand and what not...you name it and everything could include 'mango'. Bananas followed. A Banana to serve every purpose.
Nevertheless, Biharis are tasteful foodies and have their definitive touch of affection in whatever is cooked. no meal is served only once. You are asked again and again, people keep on insisting till you reach the verge of dying due to over-eating.