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 🙂