Bihari Cuisine is consumed in the states of Bihar, Jharkhand along with some parts of eastern Uttar Pradesh. Bihari Cuisine also has a lot of influence from Bhojpuri Cuisine and Bengali Cuisine due to its proximity to those regions. Bihari cuisine primarily is a vegetarian cuisine because of high influence from Hinduism and Buddhism values of non violence. However there are also a lot of meat dishes with mutton, chicken and fish as a popular choice for non vegetarian appetite. This cuisine makes the best use of milk and forms a large part of their diet from dairy products which are consumed all throughout the year.
Bihari cuisine has moderate changes according to the season. However the base of this cuisine like roti, chaawal, achaar, dal, chutney’s and dahi are always constant. Here people use more of mustard oil and also vegetable oil moderately for regular consumption in daily cooking. Here the concept of little frying is called bhoonjnaa and the term chhonkna refers to tadka (tempering). The main ingredients for chhonkna are jeera, saunf, sarson, methi, ajwain and kalonji. The most famous terminology of this cuisine is dhuni (smoked food). In this dhuni process, the food is exposed to a strong aroma of smoked red chillies or masala in covered utensils and sometimes coal is also used to generate smoke for the process.
A few popular dishes in Bihari Cuisine are:
- dhuska refers to a deep fried item prepared from a mixture of ghee and powdered rice along with salt
- chooda refers to beaten rice, served with curd and sugar / jaggery. In winters, this is mildly baked and accompanied with a thick spicy preparation made of peas, onions and chopped green chillies
- ghugni refers to a preparation made of soaked black gram sauted with mustard oil. This is made into a paste and then mixed with a paste made of combination of all spices. This makes the paste as a thick gravy which is now fried along with proper seasoning, then water is added and boiled as desired to complete the dish
- kadhi bari refers to a spicy gravy dish of soft dumplings of besan and yogurt which is eaten well with rice
- khichdi refers to a mixture of rice and dal boiled along with vegetables and topped with ghee
- pittha refers to a semi circular ball shaped dish which is made in both the variants like sweet or salt and resembles to momos. Here the semi circular shaped balls are made of rice flour crust filled with chana dal and lentils paste along with khus khus and gud (jaggery). These are now steamed well in water or milk to make them thick and then consumed
- sattu refers to powdered baked gram consumed with water or milk. It is a rich source of energy and protein. A variety of stuffed chapati’s locally called as makuni roti is made with a stuffing of sattu and spices
- litti refers to a dough ball shaped dish made of atta (wheat flour) and stuffed in with a preparation of sattu mixed with chopped onions, ginger, garlic, green chillies, lemon juice, carom seeds, nigella seeds and chopped coriander leaves. These balls are now deep fried in oil or barbecued over coal to make the outer shell thick and hard. This is now consumed with liberal quantity of ghee and a curry kind of dish called chokha or baingan bhurta / bharta. Traditionally this litti’s are barbecued over a fire on cow dung but now modern techniques have been practised vastly. This dish is often confused with baati (rajasthani cuisine), but both are completely different in taste, texture and flavor
- chokha refers to a vegetable preparation of roasted and mashed eggplant, tomato and potato
- posta dana ka parantha refers to a parantha made with a stuffing of paste of overnight soaked khus khus (poppy seeds) grounded with red chillies and other spices
- bhurta / bharta refers to a curry kind of dish made with any of the mashed vegetable and sauted with oil and spices. Here the vegetable’s mostly used for bhurta / bharta are baingan or aloo
litti chokha : The history of litti -chokha refers to it as a war food carried by the soldiers in ancient time along with dry Sattu powder. This is mainly because a litti can last for one full day and it give’s a person the necessary protein, carbohydrate and other minerals. Litti helps to retain the water content of the body and is consumed with gud (jaggery)
In Bihari Cuisine, mithai (sweets) also constitute a major part of meal where most of the sweet dishes are in dry form. A few varieties of sweet dishes like khaja, tilkut / til ki barfi, malpua, malai puri, rabri, kheer, churma, balushahi, motichoor laddu, pantua (a variety of kala jamun), peda/ paan peda, parwal ki mithai, belgrami, murki, pirikya, kurchan, halwa, lai (anardana mixed with khova and sugar), gaja and makhana kheer.