One thing that I truly love about Mumbai is that you can enjoy so many cuisines in one city despite the much obvious flaws it has – infrastructure, crowd, traffic and pollution. Whether it is South Indian, Parsi, Marwari, Punjabi, Gujarati, Sindhi or Maharashtrian (obviously!) and many more…you can find all of it here. So after covering the mini South India in Mumbai; Mr.P and I headed out to explore what the Mumbai has to offer on the Gujarati food front. And well considering that it was just two of us and there a lot of places that offer Gujarati food we stuck to a few places and were still super duper stuffed.
We started off our day with a Gujju breakfast at Saurashtra Farsan Mart, Dadar. I’ve had breakfast from here a hundred times when I used to stay in Dadar. There was no thinking needed on any Sunday…it just had to be breakfast from Saurashtra followed by a Sindhi meal of kadi chawal and tuk courtesy mom!
So getting back to the food trail; we picked Amiri khaman, jalebi and patra. I gave Mr.P a bit of gyaan about “Amiri khaman”…here it is. Amiri khaman is a snack made by crumbling khaman dhoklas .The crumble mix is tempered with mustard seeds and garnished with pomegranate, sesame seeds and sev. What Saurashtra had to offer is a little too difficult to flaw. It was not too sweet, had a bit of spice and perfect textures with a generous sprinkling of freshly grated coconut and coriander. The patra was served with lip smacking chutney. Although the jalebi looked tempting and had that crunch, I didn’t like it too much. We both agreed that it was too sweet and needed to be a bit warm.
We washed down this amazing breakfast with hot piping ginger masala tea from a nearby tea stall.
If you are wondering that we ate only a little during breakfast, well yes it’s lesser than what we would generally hog. But all this just so that we could enjoy and give full justice to what was up next – Shree Thakker Bhojnalay, Kalbadevi. A train journey till Marine lines led us to this small little thali place hidden in the tiny crowded lane in Kalbadevi. Thakker Bhojnalay resides on the first floor in an old building which is a little difficult to spot. But considering the popularity of this place you can easily trace this place. Do remember it is small which is really famous (I’ve seen it on practically every food channel on TV atleast once!!), and this just leads to long lines during service hours. We reached this thali place at the right time…few minutes late and we would be standing in this queue outside which just didn’t seem to reduce. Just as we were about to settle on our table the server came up and said “Napkin hata do!” and started pouring in the chutneys. This did startle Mr.P a bit! :p And then there was no stopping..chutneys were followed by salad, snacks, papad, vegetables, rotis smothered with ghee, bhakris with more ghee, dal, kadhi, rice, sweets and a never-ending refill of chaas. *burp!*
The menu that day had soft fluffy white dhokla, cheese and corn tikki, mirchi and aloo pakoda, chutneys – coriander, raw papaya, tamarind and cumin, garlic and red chili, coconut and pickeled green chilies. This was followed by the vegetables – potato in tomato gravy, bhindi (okra), peas, black chana and green sprouts and a mix veg. All of them flavorful and low on spice and truly relished with the constant supply of soft small phulkas, bhakri and puris. We did lose track of how many puris and phulkas we ate but I feel that it’s better this way. Next came the spicy dal which was just amazing and the sweet dahi (curd) ka kadhi was perfect to go with the onion pulao that was served towards the end of the meal. Sweets included fresh fruit shrikhand, doodhi ka halwa and something similar to malai sandwich. And the perfect way to end this lavish meal is with a cool glass of chaas. Then the disaster…we couldn’t move. Not even to wash our hands! We dreaded the fact that we had to walk down the steps and then in the lanes of Kalbadevi.
We did manage to take a long break till we could get the courage to even think of taking another bite of food, after which we headed to Khichiya wala in the tiny Sadashiv lane of CP tank. A pretty famous snack in these parts of town is a roasted khichiya which is drizzled with melted butter, green and red chutneys and then covered with oodles of julienned vegetables like cabbage, cucumber, tomato and also grated potato. And as if this wasn’t enough; up comes fried crunchy sev, coriander and if you may please then loads of grated cheese!! But all in all it is purely yum! It takes masala papad to a whole new level.
Our next pit stop was the very famous Swati Snacks. But before that I’d like to mention a little about Right Place, Breach Candy. Many people know this place for its humungous vegetable grilled sandwich and chic choc but our favorite here has to be the Kala khatta slush. This is not really related to Gujarati food but no one can disagree that Right place is flocked by Gujarati folks. So cooled after sipping on kala khatta slush and getting brain freeze attacks we headed to Swati Snacks, Tardeo.
With no surprise Swati was packed and the waiting line was really really long. So after waiting for about half an hour (which we didn’t complain about considering the amount of food we had downed the entire day) we headed into a noisy restaurant with servers all over getting food from this well oiled and sparkly clean kitchen. The menu here covers Gujarati dishes like handvi, chilla, khichdi, panki and also chaats, pav bahji ,dosas and so on. We were going to call for the Suagrcane juice but didn’t…umm..well 120 Rs just doesn’t seem right for a glass of sugarcane juice. So giving the drinks a skip we called for Panki chatni, fada ni khichdi and dahi batata puri. We thought we’d have some time to kill after placing the order considering the crowd but we were wrong. The kitchen was functioning super smooth, giving out dishes one after another with no hiccups. First up was the panki. It had layers of roasted banana leaves sandwiching an extremely thin layer of rice flour and spice pancake and was served with delicious green chutney and masala laden green chilies.
Wiped off in few minutes we were ready to gorge on fada ni khichdi. A bowl full of this khichdi made with broken wheat and dal was served along with yogurt with a tempering of red chili and onions. This can truly be classified as comfort food. A bowl of this on a cold day and I’d be a happy person.
Dahi batata puri was served covered with sprouted moong but it was a bit sweet for our liking so I called for “teekha chutney”.
Please do treat this as a warning: The spice level in this chutney can literally get smoke coming out of your ears. Few drops of this chutney on the puris had Mr.P gulping water! I couldn’t stop laughing seeing how the heat from the chili changed his face color and I guess the kid on the next table too couldn’t help but laugh! Anyways a bit of spice is fine but do not go overboard with this chutney. Happily fed we headed out straight to the paan wala outside Swati and meetha paan it was.
A perfect end to a Gujarati meal!