The dietary of the people is influenced mainly by the
availability of the chief agricultural produce and of fish and other animal food. The financial status of the region is also an important factor determining the dietary. Formerly Brahmans, Jains, Marvaris, etc., were strictly vegetarian. However, the two-fold classification into vegetarians and non-vegetarians is not very rigid today as it was in the past. Christians and Muslims arc mostly non-vegetarians. To eat beef is a taboo for Hindus as cow is considered sacred by them. The Muslims generally do not take pork, it being their religion's taboo.
The vegetarian food consists of bread prepared of jowar, amti or varan prepared by the mixture of boiled pulses with condiments and spices and vegetables like potato, vangi (brinjal), bhendi (Lady's fingers), onion, cabbage, etc. On the days of feasts and festivals, the menu comprise rice and some sweet dish many times prepared with milk. Those who observe fast on specific days, cat fruits and dishes prepared of vari, sabudana, singade, groundnut, etc. The non-vegetarian food comprises preparations from meat, eggs, fowl and fish alongwith other articles of food.
The agricultural labourers and other artisans whose duties involve physical labour take food twice a day, in the afternoon and in the evening and a breakfast (nyahari) in the morning before they set out for work. Nyahari generally consists of bread prepared from jowar or bajra with catani (chilli, groundnut, salt and garlic ground together) and onion. Tea has become a common habit and is taken in the morning or taken with breakfast.
Their afternoon (lunch) and evening food (dinner) consists of bhakari with kalvan (curry prepared from pulses) or zunka made of gram flour. Rice and wheat are consumed on festive occasions such as weddings, family festivals and the days like Dasara and Holi.
The middle class and well-to-do people eat rice, vegetables, curd, buttermik, etc. They are more particular about the timings and the manner of taking their food. They sit on a flat wooden stool (pat) and meal is served in dining plates of metal (stainless steel and brass) with bowls for curry and metal glasses for water. Their diet includes side dishes like pickles of various sorts, papad and kosimbir.
Generally they take tea in the morning and take their morning meals round about 10 o'clock before they leave their homes for work.
The main sweet dishes prepared on festive occasions are
Puranpoli (wheat bread stuffed with gram dal cooked with gul), sira, puri, srikhand, basundi, etc. Among the non-vegetarians,
chief dishes prepared are mutton and chicken, fried or in the
form of curry, khima and preparations from eggs.
Milk of buffalo and cow is very common in use. However, goat milk is also used by the poorer people. Fruits do not always constitute the item of common dietary. Fruits like bananas, guavas, oranges and mangoes are often taken by common people during the season.
It is customary to prepare special types of food for special occasions, details of which are given in the section on Holidays.