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solapurFIVE SULTANATES RISE out of the debris of the Bahmani. These are: Bijapur, Golconda, Ahmadnagar, Bidar, and Berar. Bijapur is helmed by Yusuf Adil Shah (1490–1510), former governor of the of the province and principal architect of this decentralised resolution to the Bahmani power gridlock. The remit of Yusuf Adil Shah’s Bijapur Sultanate stretches from Solapur in the North to Goa in the South, the Konkan on the West to the Krishna River in the east.

The present day district of Solapur lies on three river basins and is believed to be have been part of territory of the Puranic Andhrabhritya dynasty. Solapur is today the country’s leading producer of jowar (sorghum), a historic millet which has a presence in a wide stretch of Western India that goes back at least 2000 years. It contributes to a favourite local staple – the jowar roti. Bhajra/pearl millet too is not an uncommon choice of flour for making these breads. The most significant signature ingredient here is shenga (groundnut) which is sanctified in the much-loved shengachatni, a dry chutney that can be consumed as a accompaniment with roti or rice, or used as a masala to flavour vegetable-based sidedishes. Groundnuts are however not native to India and were only brought in after the 16th Century (likely as late as the 18th Century) by the Portugese, who had themselves first encountered these pleasing legumes in Brazil, a while after they landed on that continent in 1500.

In Solapur, peanuts are making of a sweet flatbread – shenga poli – stuffed with peanuts and jaggery. Another Sholapuri sweet dish of note is lapshi, made from broken wheat and jaggery. Khara mutton is a salty mutton curry that is a notable nonvegetarian specialty. Being at the cultural crossroads of Maharasthra, Telengana and Karnataka, these influences reflect on the culinary palette of the region.

Solapuri chaddars (sheets/blankets/towels) enjoy global recognition, and carry a Geographical Indication tag. Then again, the region’s repute in textiles is nothing new. In the early 16th Century, a Portugese officer observed that “calicoes and turban material produced in the Deccan were enough to furnish the world”. Among the woven fabrics produced in and exported from the Deccan, were taffeta (production of which was originally developed in Persia) satin, and hard-wearing dungaree (which takes its name from a village near Mumbai called Dongri where this was produced).

Silkworm cocoons were brought in from China to the Konkan, where silk was processed for export to markets in the Middle East. Most of the Deccan’s textile exports at this time went to Egypt; a trade arrangement which was facilitated by a well-established mercantile entity that dominated India-Egypt trade. It is understand that in the mid-15th Century one member of that group went on to reside in Gulbarga, in the role of agent of Cairo’s Mamluk Court.

  • A Social History of the Deccan, by Richard M Eaton
  • The Portuguese Empire, 1415-1808: A World on the Move, by A. J. R. Russell Wood
  • Socio Economic Development in Solapur District by Sikandar S. Mulani
  • Western Maharashtrian Cuisine: sailusfood.com
  • Silk Tafetta live well: hyenaproductions.com
  • Wikipedia