Kolhapuri Misal, a rustic dish from Kolhapur in Maharashtra is a combination of various textures and flavors. The origin of the misal goes back to Kolhapur, but according to legend, the first Kolhapuri misal was actually served under the name in Pune. “The pav component clearly points towards a Portuguese/post-Portuguese date and a definitive Portuguese influence. It was the Portuguese who brought the concept of oven baked breads to India.
The misal on the other hand gives birth to a string of possibilities. The usal part of it is clearly indigenous while the rest of the toppings are varied depending on the region. Phodniche Pohe, flattened deep fried rice tempered with mustard seeds is an integral part of the dish in some rural areas of Maharashtra, while the farsan-chivda and ganthiya reflects the Gujarati influence on the dish.
Before becoming the go-to breakfast for office goers and college kids, misal pav was a laborer’s food. It’s inexpensive and filling, rich in protein thanks to the lentils while the pav adds enough carbohydrates, making it ideal for factory workers. Kolhapur’s oldest misal stall – Phadtare Misal is in Udyam Nagar, which is largely surrounded by manufacturing units. Since Misal is an easy-to-make breakfast item, it gained popularity amongst the factory workers. Even in Mumbai, you’ll find more misal pav joints around the old mill compounds.
While sprouted moth beans are the mainstay of misal, some versions use vatana or fava beans. Dahi misal is another popular variety where the regular variety is topped with dahi which gives it a chaat like texture and flavor. The Kolhapuri misal is the spiciest of them all, followed by Puneri misal, Nasikchi misal and more.
In 2015, the Misal Pav served at Dadar’s Aaswad restaurant was named as the world’s tastiest vegetarian dish at the FoodieHub Awards in London.