Kaande-Pohe Ritual in Maharashtra, India

In my culture, when a prospective bridegroom visits a prospective bride in the context of an “arranged marriage”, it is a custom for the girl to prepare “kaande-pohe” and the guy is supposed to then assess her cooking skills based on how good they have been prepared. (“Kaande” is Onions, “Pohe” is flattened rice). This is a custom that has been followed for generations, so much so, that we urban boys when joking about prospective couples just mention “kaande-pohe” and the rest is understood.

Poha,_a_snack_made_of_flattened_rice

I have always been curious why it is this particular, specific preparation that has come to be associated with this marriage ritual. The answer, as always, lies in the agricultural and economic roots of Maharashtra.

This is a region where rice and jowari was plentiful. On the other hand, wheat was a delicacy. “Poha” is flattened rice, that was used by battering rice at home in ancient times. It was readily available anywhere you went. Chapati, on the other hand, is made out of wheat, which was a luxury few could afford. Also, one family visiting a prospective family was not a close enough acquaintance for a full-fledge meal, in which cooked rice, and Bhakri would be served. Families often went scouting for multiple brides in one day.

Onion (“kaanda”) and Pohe were guaranteed to be available anywhere you went. The need of the hour was for a simple snack, easily affordable, whose ingredients were available universally, irrespective of economic status. Thus, the ritual of the girl preparing “Kaande-Pohe” became the ‘norm’.

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  • I would like to recollect, what I had read somewhere regarding “Kaande Pohe” and why only that dish. Though the dish appears simple, it required a bride to be skillfull in making it.
    Kaande should be cut properly and fried – not much not less.Regarding Pohe, they should be soaked adequately and for proper time to give the perfect. Then comes the actual preparation, should not be too salty or sweet, not too much oily not too much dry and then how they are decorated.
    So if a bride made perfect kaande pohe it was presumed she could cook well

    • All in all, a delicate balance indeed! Thanks for sharing 🙂