Get Your Fill Of Pani Puri At Kailash Parbat

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GET YOUR FILL OF PANI PURI AT KAILASH PARBAT

Kailash Parbat is a vegetarian restaurant in Colaba that has an excellent chaat menu, the highlight of which is the pani puri. It is also famous for the Sindhi food it serves.
Kailash Parbat Hindu Hotel, 5, Sheela Mahal,1st Pasta Lane, Colaba Market, Colaba, Mumbai 400 005. Phone: 022 2287 4823

READ MEHER MIRZA’S STORY

Scarcely a week goes by that I don’t hanker for chaat — a plinth of crunchy puris under a carpet of potato, sev, green mango, and dahi, lacquered by a rainbow of chutneys; crisp patties juddering under a heap of ragda, and a scatter of chopped onions; papdis, smashed and soused with dahi and chutney, with a streak of pomegranate seeds. But most of all, I yearn for the charms of pani puri.
In my inexorable quest for “the best one”, I have devoured puri after puri, sputtering and gasping next to chaatwallahs as they pierced, stuffed, and handed over pani puris with a quicksilver torque of the wrist, while a grumbling, restless queue swelled behind me. I am not a speedy eater. This was not my way.
And that is how I found myself with a friend, sitting on the rather dingy mezzanine section of Kailash Parbat Hindu Hotel in Colaba, faced by an abundance of chaat dahi sev batata puri, mix chaat, dahi wada, and ragda pattice to start. But these were merely ellipses to the little envelopes of pani puri waiting for me to stuff them with the perfect troika of fierce, spice-infused pani, boiled potato with boondi (or chickpeas?), and a slick of sweet chutney to muffle the sting of the spices that ripple through the dish. There is almost a sanctifying joy to stabbing the eggshell-thin puris with your thumb, watching their roofs cave in, scooping in the potatoes and chutney, and dunking it all into the bowl of spiced tamarind water. It is a dance of crunch and collapse and indignity — wide open mouths, water dribbling down to the chin, laughter. I ate all of mine, then, finding that my friend couldn’t finish her plate, ate hers too.
But Kailash Parbat is an eatery with many strings to its bow. For instance, it is one of few (the only?) places in the city that serves Sindhi food. The late Mr. Parsram Mulchandani, a chaat vendor with roots in Pakistan, settled down in Mumbai, opening Kailash Parbat in Colaba way back in 1952. His first menu was sparse — just pani puri and ragda pattice. Along the way, he added more chaat, a vast Punjabi and Tandoori menu, and a handful of Sindhi specialities that are rare in the city: koki (Sindhi-style paratha), matha, Sindhi curry, bhee masala (spindles of lotus root), bhee channa, and dal pakwan.

It is a dance of crunch and collapse and indignity — wide open mouths, water dribbling down to the chin, laughter.

The Mulchandani family’s entrepreneurial instincts are on point; Kailash Parbat has recently built up an entourage of branches that are spidering their way through the city, embracing new converts to their folds (this includes a Bandra Kailash Parbat that serves kooky concoctions such as Thai Bhel and Pani Puri Tacos with Chipotle Water).
Since that first day, I’ve returned to Colaba’s Kailash Parbat several times, sometimes alone, often with friends. No matter who I go with though, there is usually an avalanche of snacks on my table; sev puri, pav bhaji, samosa chaat, dahi wada, chole bhature. Often, I order the matha on the side, a cool swallow of buttermilk with a slick of masala. Sometimes, Kailash Parbat’s voluptuous gulab jamuns end our meal, sometimes its saffron-stained shrikhand, sometimes a cornet of kulfi. But always, always, there is pani puri, simple, delicious, gratifying.
Feature photograph by Yusuke Kawasaki (Flickr: Pani Puri Rs.15/-) [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons 
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