Saturday, October 10, 2015

“Khichdi” Memories

This morning I went to watch the Movie Talvar at City Pride Multiplex Cinema at Kothrud in Pune.

After watching the engrossing film  it was lunchtime and I felt hungry – so I went down to the solitary restaurant in the Multiplex called Cafe VegEatarian”.

I saw an item on the menu: DAL KHICHDI

Since I am dieting” – I ordered Dal Khichdi” – though I was tempted to order the more richer dishes like Pav Bhaji Shahi Paneer/Naan” etc

I am glad I made this choice – the DAL KHICHDI was very tasty and fulfilling – and here is a picture of the Dal Khichdi I ate for lunch this afternoon (first helping)

DAL KHICHDI
  
This Dal Khichdi evoked in my mind nostalgic mouthwatering memories of my favourite Khichdi Restaurant in Mumbai called Khichdi Samrat located in the heart of Mumbai.

So – I decided to delve deep into my foodie writing archives and pull out an foodie story I wrote after my first visit to Khichdi Samrat” around 15 years ago in the year 2000, I think.

This story also features in my Foodie Book APPETITE FOR A STROLL (pp 38 - 40).

I wonder whether this delightful eatery in the heart of Mumbai still exists – and if so – is Khichdi Samrat still the same unpretentious eatery  or has it changed and become a highfalutin restaurant.

So – Dear Reader and Fellow Foodie – here is the “memoir  suitably abridged and revised  for you to savour.

Happy Eating !!!

MOUTHWATERING MUMBAI MEMORIES

I Spent the Six Best Years of My Life in Mumbai – 6 glorious years from the years 2000 to 2006.

During these six best years of my life, I lived in EMPRESS COURT  my all time favourite home – the best house I have ever lived in during my entire life.

I wish I could have had my retirement home in that lovely neighbourhood  or nearby  but then  can any honest naval officer afford a house in South Mumbai?

Maybe a Merchant Navy Officer can afford a house in So Bo (South Bombay) – but if you have spent your life honestly serving the nation in the “Fauji Indian Navy  forget about Mumbai  you will not be able to afford a home in the heart of Pune  and you would probably have to settle down in some faraway suburb like Wakad or Baner or Kharadi  or in one of those military veteran “fauji ghettos” like Mundhwa, Kondhwa or Mohammadwadi where most retired service officers have settled down.

But in your mind’s eye  you can always hark back  and relive your “good old days” with nostalgia. 

That is what I did on this afternoon after relishing the delicious Dal Khichdi – I reminisced about my glorious evening “Food Walk” in Mumbai to Khichdi Samrat”.

Eating Out in Mumbai

KHICHDI SAMRAT
Mouthwatering Memories of a Food Walk
By
VIKRAM KARVE

(This an abridged/revised version of a foodie “memoir” written by me 15 years ago in the year 2000)

I have just had some Khichdi – no, not the yummy lip smacking sabudanya chi khichadi my wife gorges and devours by the plateful whenever she is “fasting” – but the bland Khichdi made of rice and dal that you are given to eat when you are convalescing. 

It’s supposed to be light on the stomach – it gives you strength  and it helps you recuperate. 

My daughter is ill  hence the Khichdi. 

The Khichdi I ate was awful – it was fatless  there was no pure ghee in it  as desired by my darling daughter. 

In fact  it was so tasteless and insipid that it brought back nostalgic mouthwatering memories of wholesome Khichdi I had savoured at Khichdi Samrat on near CP Tank in Mumbai.
 
To reach Khichdi Samrat  walk up Kalbadevi Road from Metro  turn left at the Cotton Exchange  walk past Panjrapole towards Bhuleshwar  turn right on VP Road towards CP Tank  and soon  on your right  you will see Khichdi Samrat – an unpretentious down-to-earth eatery. 

In fact the restaurant is so humble and modest that make sure you don’t miss it and walk on to CP Tank! 

It is a small place  but I always found a seat. 

Maybe they send out more parcels than have patrons eating in situ.
 
You can also walk up from Crawford Market  through Zaveri Bazar  past the Gold Exchange and Mumbadevi Temple  to Cotton Exchange.

Or – you can come down from Bhendi Bazar via Pydhonie down Kalbadevi Road  and turn right at the Cotton Exchange. 

In case you live in the western suburbs  take a train  and get down at Charni Road station  climb the overbridge at southern [Churchgate] end  turn left  walk straight down Thakurdwar Road  cross Girgaum (JSS) Road  continue past Vinay Lunch Home (you’ll be tempted to hop in for a Misal)  turn left at Bhuleshwar on VP Road towards CP tank.
 
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 – and walk briskly on to my destination. 

Don’t try to drive down – you’ll go crazy negotiating your way – and besides a brisk walk on a hot and humid Mumbai evening will build up in you a voracious appetite – quite conducive  in fact sine qua non for total enjoyment of  and to do full justice to  the delicious nourishing food you are going to partake of in Khichdi Samrat. 

Besides  your march through the crowded gritty bustling streets of Mumbai will prepare you for the gastronomic adventure.
 
You will be surprised  but the first time I went to Khichdi Samrat  one Sunday evening  I did not eat Khichdi.

Maybe this was because of my mental map associating Khichdi as convalescence-food.

Or  maybe because “Dal Bati” was listed on the menu board as a Sunday Special – and I was curious to sample this dish which I had never tasted till that day – tasty wheat flour balls in scrumptious dal with plenty of pure ghee – it was indeed delicious and satiating.

But – on my subsequent visits – I tried all the varieties of Khichdi.
 
There are 10 varieties of Khichdi  ranging from the bland Plain Khichdi to the Special Dry Fruit Khichdi  and I have tried all of them  one on each visit  and I especially liked the Masala and Vrindavan Khichdis. 

Do embellish your Khichdi with a Papad of your choice – there is an impressive array of 10 types of Papads to choose from – and I particularly liked the Masala Papad.
 
To my delight  I found the other dishes on the menu like the Methi Malai Mutter, Koftas, Kurmas and Paneer gravies very delicious too  and so is the excellent satisfying Thali with a medley of dishes. 

So  if you go there in a group  don’t restrict yourself to Khichdi. 

And don’t forget to try different rotis and parathas including those made of maka (corn), bajra and the delicious stuffed versions.
 
Start off with a jal jeera  have chaas to accompany your meal  and end with a Gulab Jamun or Rabdi.

Or  better still  walk down to Bhaishankar Gaurishankar nearby to end your repast with some chilled soothingly-sweet Rasgullas.
 
The next time you are in the heart of Mumbai – do have some Khichdi at Khichdi Samrat – or – if you prefer – have a full-fledged meal  – and do tell us all about it.

And – will some fellow Foodie from Mumbai please tell us whether this delightful eatery still exists and is going strong.

Happy Eating.

VIKRAM KARVE
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