Mumbai’s legendary dining institutions: Girgaum
2016 Mumbai may be Maximum City but it is still offers plenty of Maharashtra’s fiery flavour inside Marathi neighbourhoods across the city like Dadar, Lalbaug-Parel, Vile Parle (East) and Girgaum. South Mumbai’s mini Maratha stronghold ― with its abundant wadis and occasional topi-dhoti clad gents and modest eating institutions ― stretches from the edges of Kalbadevi, skirting Thakurdwar (Gujarati and Marwari areas), going towards Opera House/Chowpatty. Here, you can expect your meals to be fresh, home-style and either spicy hot or seriously sweet.
Feeding Mumbai since the 1930s
Welcome to mainland Maharashtra, where the cuisine is built on ingredients that are seasonal and local. Think, caramel coloured fried spiced sago balls snacks, spicy dry and gravy lentil creations, al dante seasonal vegetables, meat and seafood curries and frys, flat breads made with jowar (sorghum), rice and sweets. Only, this no-frills eatery is what we call an upvas (vegetarian fasting food) joint, famous for dry snacks and a fusion creation called the sabudana-poha wada (sago and flat rice pattice). If you’re planning to visit in April, you should ask for the olya kaju usal, a seasonal curried snack made with tender cashews followed by their simple, homely thali.
Kolhapuri Chiwda, 237 JSS Road, Mangal Wadi, Girgaum, +91 22 23893912. 8 am to 10 pm, closed on Fridays
Feeding Mumbai since 1923
If you ask a metropolitan Mumbaikars what’s Marathi food? They’ll answer, missal. To try some great Maharashtrian snacks in Girgaum alongside the best farali missal (upvas or fasting missal) in the city, go to the eatery that pioneered the spicy, all-day snack made with peanut, potato and sago curry instead of the usual fried crisps and moth bean sprouts. They also do a great shrikhand puri, thalipeeth and batata wada. Other favourites include the golden globe-like sabudana wada and the light-as-air kothimbir wadi, both of which come served with suka (dry coconut) chutney. To finish, ask for any of the traditional beverages like ginger lemon, avala sharbat, kokam sharbat or piyush.
Panshikar Aahar, Gordhandas Building, Jagannath Shankar Sheth Rd, Near Portugese Church, Girgaum, +91 022 23861211. 9 am to 9 pm, closed on Sundays
PRAKASH DUGDHA MANDIR
Feeding Mumbai since 1947
Our hands down favourite institution from the area is as old as India and makes everything they offer, well. The modest, share a table, 14-seater, blink-and-miss, mostly take-away eatery predates it’s more famous sister outlet Prakash Shakahari Upahaar Kendra in Dadar (opened in 1971) by 24 years. Three things to try here are watana pattice (more correctly, green peas, French beans, green coriander and coconut pattice), dahi missal (spicy and served without pav) and the best batata wada (the recipe of which, is a guarded family secret) we’ve ever tried. Other wins include sabudana wada, sabudana khichdi, piyush, dudhi peda and kokam sharbat.
Prakash Dugdha Mandir, Building No 144, Narayan Sadan, V P Road, Opposite Phadke Ganpati Temple, Girgaum, +91 22 45110898. 7.30 am to 10 pm
SUJATA UPHAR GRIHA (B. TAMBE)
Feeding Mumbai for over 100 years
If rumours and current owners’ calculations are correct, Sujata Uphar Griha ― originally B. Tambe ― is one of Mumbai’s oldest, continuously operating restaurants. This unpretentious Marathi uphar gruh (lunch house) with AC and non AC sections is known for serving the best value for money lunch and dinner thalis. Rs 125 will buy you a steel plate piled high with a snack (farsan), salad, curd, papad, usal, bhaji, bhakri/chapatti/puri, aamti/varan/kadhi and dessert. To pull a local, ask for a portion of their thalipeeth with loni (fresh white hand-churned butter), dalimbi usal (val or field beans curry) and dudhi halwa (dessert made from bottle gourd). In season, go with the aam ras puri.
Sujata Uphar Griha, 277, Mapla House, opposite Magalwadi, Thakurdwar, Girgaum, +91 22 30151461. 8.30 am to 10.30 pm, closed on Wednesdays
VINAY HEALTH HOME
Feeding Mumbai since the 1940s
Serving it straight, Vinay was once the crowning jewel of Maratha cuisine in all of the ‘old’ market area. But these days, the clean, family-run, AC and non AC eatery located on the edge of Kalbadevi and Bhuleshwar is hanging on to their royal status by a thread. We don’t make the rules but the first thing that Marathi cuisine is, is spicy and off late the Tebme family seem to be serving a highly controlled, sweet version of what the locals would usually eat. Sure, it’s still the safest spot you can take visiting friends who prefer a non-spicy introduction to Maharashtrian food but it isn’t what it used be. Visit on Sunday for their daily special: wangi poha, a beaten flat rice snack made with eggplant and side of sabudana wada.
Vinay Health Home, Jawar Mansion, Dr BA Jaikar Marg, Charni Road, +91 22 22081211. 7 am to 10 pm