Archive for February 2nd, 2007

Mouthwatering Memories

February 2, 2007

AUTHENTIC MAHARASHTRIAN CUISINE IN MUMBAI

By

VIKRAM KARVE 

 

Mumbai is in
Maharashtra. You will get all genres and varieties of cuisine in Mumbai, but tell me, where would you go for authentic Maharashtrian Cuisine? My favorite place is Vinay near Thakurdwar in Girgaum.

 

When I used to stay at Churchgate, I used to walk down Marine Drive towards Chowpatty, cross the road near Taraporewala Aquarium, take the lane between Kaivalyadhama Yoga Centre and Savitribai Phule Ladies Hostel, (the lane is called Income Tax Lane), cross the railway overbridge at the southern end of Charni Road Station on the Western Railway, walk straight on Thakurdwar Road, cross Girgaum (JSS) Road, and continue walking till I reached Vinay on my right.

 

Have you ever tasted a dish called Misal? If you want to know what an authentic Misal tastes like, try the Misal at Vinay’s. It’s the signature dish of the place and I don’t think anyone else serves a better Misal than Vinay of Girgaum.

 

The place is always crowded and you may have to wait for a seat, but the sight of foodies voraciously eating and the gastronomic ambiance will help build up your appetite. The moment you sit down in the shiny bright eatery, with mirrors all around, order a Misal. Don’t delve too much on the contents, or the ingredients, which basically comprise an Usal, rassa (the spicy curry) and the garnish of sev, chiwda, farsan, onions, fresh corriander and green chillies, arranged in three tiers and served with a wedge of lemon. There are two bowls and spoons. Using both spoons, mix the contents thoroughly, squeeze the lemon, and eat. It’s hot, delicious; your tongue is on fire, my nose and eyes water – the true test of a genuine missal. Bash on regardless. (Never try to douse the appetizing zesty fire in your insides by sipping water or ruin the gastronomic experience by succumbing to a bite of pav or bread they may have the temerity to place alongside).

 

Pav with Bhaji or Vada may be fine, but if you want to savor the genuine taste of misal, and experience the ‘proof’ of the real stuff, it would be tantamount to sacrilege to have pav with misal. If you like things less spicy try Dahi Misal. The sweet cool curds (dahi), fiery chillis, zesty onions and spicy crisp chiwda-shev provide an excellent contrasting symbiosis of tastes and flavors..

 

If you do want to have something with pav, try the Patal Bhaji or Usal. Fresh soft bread drenched in the delicious gravies – it’s heavenly. You’ll find all the Maharashtrian specialties on the menu, including the Upas (Fast) food like sabudanyachi khichadi and wade, but you must go there and discover for yourself. There are quite a few exquisite preparations of pohe too. But remember to end with chilled piyush or mango lassi to savor a sweet end to a delightful repast.

 

If you are looking for Authentic Value For Money pure Vegetarian Maharashtrian Cuisine in Mumbai, head for Vinay – and you will carry mouthwatering memories of the place forever. And if you know of a place that serves a better Misal, please be so good as to inform me.

 

 

VIKRAM KARVE 

vikramkarve@sify.com

vikramkarve@hotmail.com

 

http://vikramkarve.sulekha.com

 

Misal

February 2, 2007

MISAL

(The Signature Dish of Maharashtra)

By

Vikram Karve

It’s pouring heavy rain, there is water all around, the rivers of Pune, the Mula and Mutha, are flowing in spate, I’m feeling wet and cold, and there’s nothing better to fire up your insides and perk you up than a hot spicy dish of Misal. Since I’m on Lakdi Pul, near Deccan, I head up Tilak Road to Ramnath, my old favorite.

I don’t delve too much on the contents, or the ingredients, which basically comprise an Usal, rassa (the spicy curry) and the garnish of sev, chiwda, farsan, onions, fresh corriander and green chillies, arranged in three tiers and served with a wedge of lemon. There are two bowls and spoons. Using both spoons, I mix the contents thoroughly, squeeze the lemon, and eat. It’s hot, delicious, my tongue is on fire, my nose and eyes water – the true test of a genuine missal. I bash on regardless. (Never try to douse the appetizing zesty fire in your insides by sipping water or ruin the gastronomic experience by succumbing to a bite of pav or bread they may have the temerity to place alongside).

Pav with Bhaji or Vada may be fine, but if you want to savor the genuine taste of misal, and experience the ‘proof’ of the real stuff, it would tantamount to sacrilege to have pav with misal.

The misal at Ramnath had peas in the Usal, but I prefer something sprouted like matki, moong or a combination, like they serve at Vinay on Thakurdwar Road in Girgaum in Mumbai. In fact, though Misal is the signature dish of Pune, I don’t think anyone in Pune serves a better misal than Vinay of Girgaum. ( If there is, do let me know).

I had my first taste of Misal way back in the sixties in a place called Santosh Bhavan near NMV School on the way to Appa Balwant Chowk from Laxmi Road in Pune, but looks like the place has disappeared.

Both Misal and Vada pav are Indian Fast-Foods, but Misal is certainly not a ‘junk’ food. If made with all the proper ingredients, it’s zesty, healthy, nourishing snack.

Dear fellow Foodies, do let me know where I can get a good fiery misal in Pune, where I have recently relocated after a long hiatus. Till then I’ll miss my Sunday morning lip-smacking misal at Vinay’s, which I religiously relished for the past six years in Mumbai, and have to make do with the fare at Ramnath.

VIKRAM KARVE

vikramkarve@sify.com

Nalli Nihari

February 2, 2007

HERITAGE CUISINE – Nalli Nihari

by

VIKRAM KARVE

 

(A Sumptuous Breakfast after a invigorating walk in the heart of Mumbai)

 

 

I start early, at dawn, from my house near Churchgate, admire, in the early morning pre-sunrise light, the impressive silhouettes of the magnificent Gothic structures of the High Court and Mumbai University across the Oval, hear the clock on Rajabai Tower strike six, walk briskly past Oxford Bookstore, KC College, CCI, Marine Plaza Hotel; cross the Marine Drive, turn right and start off towards Chowpatty, greeting with a smile the morning joggers and walkers, rinsing my lungs with the fresh invigorating sea breeze, and soon I am past Marine Lines, Taraporewala Aquarium, Charni Road, Chowpatty, Wilson College and at the end of Marine Drive. 

Here I ponder for a moment. Should I turn left up the

Walkeshwar Road

to Teen Batti and Banganga? Or should I turn right towards Babulnath; or should I turn back towards Nariman Point?  I experience a sense of true freedom. I can make whatever choice I want; go wherever I desire! 

 I choose to cross the road, and walk fast, straight up the steep path towards

Hanging
Gardens on Malabar Hill, trying to exercise my heart and lungs. I take a round of garden atop the water tank near Kamala Nehru Park (is it called Phirozeshah Mehta Udyan?), canter down to Kemp’s Corner where I turn right, a U-turn really, past Crossword Bookstore, down Hughes Road, left past Gamdevi , Nana Chowk and crossing the railway over-bridge keep going onto Grant Road passing Novelty Cinema , turn right at Delhi Durbar on Falkland Road, reach VP Road, walk past Gol Deval, Alankar cinema and there I am at Bhendi Bazar – my destination Noor Mohammadi Hotel in front of me across Mohamedali Road. 

 Almost two hours of brisk walking has built up in me a voracious appetite and I am ready to devour a sumptuous breakfast. I am hungry; and I eat only when I am hungry! 

I enter the Spartan no-nonsense eatery and order a Nalli Nihari and Roti. Within a minute a bowl of piping hot gravy, with a generous chunk of succulent meat floating in it, and a fluffy khaboosh roti is placed in front of me. I dip a piece of the soft roti in the spicy rich gravy, let it soak for a while, put it in my mouth and close my eyes to luxuriate in and relish the gastronomic experience in its entirety. 

 I can feel the juicy gravy soaked roti melting on my tongue, releasing its delicious flavours and spicy aroma which permeate into my soul.  I am in seventh heaven and keep on attaining higher states of sheer heavenly bliss with every succulent bite of the mouth watering concoction – they say it’s a bone marrow and wheat gravy, but I don’t delve too much on the contents of a dish – it’s the taste, delicacy, eating experience and ultimate divine feeling of satiation that matters. 

It’s a delectable beginning to a delightful day as the luscious taste of the delicious Nalli Nihari lingers on my tongue indefinitely. It’s epicurean satiation of the highest order – a blissful experience I can never forget. 

Dear Reader; if you happen to be in Mumbai and are ready for a sumptuous non-vegetarian breakfast, begin your day with Nalli Nihari at Noor Mohamadi in Bhendi Bazar. And don’t forget to tell me how you enjoyed it! Wasn’t it a fortifying and stimulating experience? 

 But remember; if you want to truly appreciate this splendid Heritage Gourmet Cuisine to its fullest, you must build up an appetite for it! Happy eating! 

 

VIKRAM KARVE                                     

E-mail :   vikramkarve@sify.com

http://vikramkarve.sulekha.com