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What are Pathare Prabhus?

Very few people know that Pathare Prabhus form an indigenous, colourful community in Mumbai, small in number (current estimate is about 56,000 across the world, mostly still in and around Mumbai) and yet significant in the early history of the development of Mumbai city and neighbouring areas.

Although very little is known and established about the history of this small and introverted community, Pathare Prabhus seem to have travelled the length and breadth of Western India, from one location to another, persecuted by the locals and rulers alike, and yet trying to protect their traditions and rituals. They moved, most likely starting from Gujarat, going towards Rajasthan, then to Maharashtra, finally settling down in Bombay in the last 13th century.

Pathare Prabhus are known for their contribution to the building of modern Mumbai, their special customs, a Gujarati-Marathi mixed wardrobe and language, and a relaxed general attitude bordering laziness, along with a ruefully tiny interest in their own colourful past and history, just like most Indians. But more than anything else, they are known for their special cuisine, especially their seafood specialities, their special recipes and spices.

Pathare Prabhus developed several items that are unique, and not just a twisted version of existing Marathi or Gujarathi items. Over time, the Pathare Prabhu cuisine became a full-fledged cuisine, complete with all courses and desserts and so on.

Apart from ingredients, there were variations in techniques. Pathare Prabhus made pav (bread) that can be eaten by local Hindus without worrying about animal fat – and that bread is still made in Pathare Prabhu homes to go with Aamras (mango puree).

The picture that you see is our family with our loving guests after a scrumptious meal at one of our pop-ups.

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