A VEGETARIAN'S GUIDE TO MAHARASHTRIAN RESTAURANTS IN DADAR
READ KETAKI SAVNAL'S STORY
Dadar is perhaps best known for the sea of bodies that flow in and out of its train station daily, even inspiring one-line poems such as “Darr ke aage jeet hai, Dadar ke aage seat hai, but for me, Dadar is all about the food. The busy marketplace in Dadar West, known for its aromatic flower stalls and colourful sari shops, is also peppered with small Maharashtrian restaurants, some of which have been serving quick vegetarian snacks to the hordes of hungry travellers for over a century. If you're not planning to shop, visit on a Monday when the market is closed, so you can enjoy a plate of missal pav or a pair of batata vadas in relative solitude.
Mama Kane is a no-frills eatery just outside Dadar Station. It's always busy, which means that the fried food is always hot. Try the aluvadi (patra), the sabudana vada, or the dahi vada with a glass of kokum sharbat. The missal is as authentic as it gets – served with an oily, guilt-inducing potato mixture. They've retained their vintage charm while introducing newer dishes like the aloo vada sambar, a pair of potato vadas dunked in a bowl of sambar and served with pav, apparently created for their growing South Indian clientele.
Mama Kane, 222, Smruti Kunj, Senapati Bapat Marg, Dadar (w), Mumbai 400 028. Phone: 022 2422 1161
Panshikar and Co.
I make a trip to Panshikar every year to buy my father a tub of shrikhand for his birthday. With a hint of saffron and the perfect amount of sourness to the curd, it pairs perfectly with the rajgira puris, which are thicker and crunchier than regular puris. The farsaan in the missal is too delicate and disintegrates into mush, so try the faraali missal (missal made with peanuts and potato salli) instead, the mug bhaji (mung bean fritters) or the vada usal (a pair of batata vadas dunked in missal rassa) if you're feeling adventurous.
Panshikar & Co., Gananath Building, Senapati Bapat Marg, Lokmanya Tilak Colony, Dadar (w), Mumbai 400 028. Phone: 022 2422 9526
Tambe Arogya Bhawan
The gulpoli (crunchy roti stuffed with jaggery and sesame seeds) sold here is the Maharashtrian answer to khakra – I once met a man who was here to pack Tambe gulpoli for a trek. The missal has more sprouts than potato (a welcome change) and deliciously spiced rassa with unlimited refills but not enough farsaan on top. The most memorable flavour is that of the garlicky chutney made with red chilli and coconut that’s served alongside the batata wada and the thalipith.
Tambe Arogya Bhavan, NC Kelkar Road, Dadar (w), Mumbai 400 028. Phone: 022 2432 5611
Shree Krishna Batatawada
The biggest faux pas you can make here is to ask for a pav with the batata vada: Shree Krishna prides itself on its vada and doesn't believe in dampening the flavours – lots of ginger and curry leaves that pack a punch – with a pav. It’s a takeaway joint, so I like to grab a crunchy dal vada or kothimbir wadi and browse through the bookstores nearby. Pro tip: keep an eye on the vat of oil and order what comes out of it first – none of the stuff tastes particularly good when cold.
Shree Krishna Batatawada, Radha Nivas, Chhabildas Road, Dadar (w), Mumbai 400 028 Phone: 022 2430 7416
Prakash Shakahari Upahar Kendra
Prakash is one of those old restaurants that has achieved legendary status over the years. What it lacks in service and ambiance, it makes up for with its flavours. The missal here is slightly sweet, topped with grated coconut, and ideal for those who prefer mild flavours. The piyush (sweetened yoghurt drink) is has contributed to Prakash's fame but is probably enjoyed best only by those with a really sweet tooth. I'd rather stick to the puri bhaji and take home some pohe chiwada and dink ladu (fenugreek aadoo).
Prakash Shakahari Upahar Kendra, 9/10, Horizon Building, Gokhale Road North, Dadar (w), Mumbai 400 028. Phone: 022 2445 6095
Aaswad is perhaps best known for its missal pav. Unlike most missal, theirs is so mild it feels censored for the unfamiliar tongue, but the generous bed of potato bhaji on which it is served makes it a filling snack. Other interesting dishes here are the omelette (chickpea flour, no eggs) served with toast and the thalipith served with white butter. Wash it all down with the fresh grape juice, which can be made (and tastes much better) without sugar. The hidden gem on the menu is the varan bhat (dal rice with ghee and jaggery), comfort food for most Maharashtrians, best eaten along with the crunchy kurdai (fermented papad). For dessert, try the puran poli ice cream or malai ice cream topped with a cardamom-laced jaggery sauce.
Aaswad, 61, Sadanand, Opposite Amar Hind Mandal, Gokhale Road (North), Opp. Chandrika Automobiles, Dadar (w), Mumbai 400 028. Phone: 022 2445 1871
Gypsy Corner is a great place to visit for a home-style Maharashtrian meal. Try the pitla bhakri thecha (a besan sabji, roti, and dry, fiery chutney) and aamti bhaat toop (spiced dal rice with ghee) for a full meal. The restaurant also offers daily specials such as surnache kabab (yam), matarchi karanji (fried dumplings stuffed with green peas), and kaju mutter ussal (cashew and green peas).
Gypsy Corner, 120, Keluskar Road, Dadar (w), Mumbai 400 028. Phone: 097570 73213
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