Thursday, December 16, 2010

EATING OUT in MUMBAI - Mouthwatering Memories - KHICHDI SAMRAT


From my Foodie Archives: 
Memories of a Lip-Smacking Nourishing Vegetarian Meal I relished in the heart of Mumbai more than six years ago.

I have just had some Khichdi. No, it is not the yummy lip smacking sabudanya chi khichadi my wife gorges and devours by the plateful whenever she is “fasting” – but the Khichdi one is given to eat when one is convalescing. It’s supposed to be light on the stomach, yet it nourishes you and gives you strength and helps you recuperate. 

The other day someone fell ill, so they gave the patient Khichdi. So I had to perforce eat the Khichdi too, just to cheer up the sick patient by giving him company while eating. 

The Khichdi prepared for the convalescing is quite bland – it is fatless; there is no pure ghee in it, which is good for the ill but certainly not for the hale and hearty. In fact, the Khichdi given to me that day was so tasteless and insipid that it brought back nostalgic mouthwatering memories of wholesome Khichdi I had savored at Khichdi Samrat near CP Tank in Mumbai long ago.  

I wonder if the place still exists, so if you want to find out and get there, 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 it’s 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 have 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 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 staright down Thakurdwar Road, cross Girgaum (JSS) Road, continue past Vinay Lunch Home (you’ll be tempted to hop in for a Misal...!), then 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, 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 day will build up in you a voracious appetite – a good appetite is a must as it is quite conducive, in fact sine qua non, for total enjoyment of good food and will enable you to do full justice to the delicious nourishing fare you are going to savour in Khichdi Samrat. 

Besides, your march through the crowded gritty bustling streets will prepare you for the gastronomic adventure.  

You’ll be surprised, but the first time I went to Khichdi Samrat, one Sunday evening, I didn’t have Khichdi. 

Maybe it 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. 

Dal Bati - Tasty wheat flour balls in scrumptious dal with plenty of pure ghee – it was indeed a delicious and satiating meal. 

The next time I visited, I made sure I had Khichdi. 

There are ten varieties of Khichdi, ranging from the bland plain khichdi to the special dry fruit kichdi, and I have tried all of them, one on each visit, and and my favourites are the Masala, Hariyali and Special Vrindavan Khichdis. Do embellish your khichdi with a masala papad of your choice. There is an impressive array of papads to choose from.  

To my delight, I found the other dishes on the menu like the Methi Malai Mutter, Koftas, Kurmas (especially the sweetish Navratan Kurma) and Paneer gravies very delicious too, and so is the excellent satisfying Thali meal 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 to stimulate your insides and have cool soothing chaas (buttermilk) 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 rasagullas. Yes, Rasagullas are a perfect end to this wholesome vegetarian meal.

So Dear Fellow Foodie, the next time you’re in the heart of Mumbai, search for Khichdi Samrat. I wonder if the place still exists and the food is still as good as it was back then, more than six years ago.

If you find the place, do have a meal at Khichdi Samrat, and do tell us all about it. 

Happy Eating 

Copyright © Vikram Karve 2010
Vikram Karve has asserted his right under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 to be identified as the author of this work 
© vikram karve., all rights reserved.

An excerpt from my Foodie Adventures Book  Appetite for a Stroll
If you enjoyed reading this, and want to relish more such delicious foodie adventures, do get a copy of APPETITE FOR A STROLL:

VIKRAM KARVE educated at IIT Delhi, ITBHU, The Lawrence School Lovedale, and Bishop's School Pune, is an Electronics and Communications Engineer by profession, a Human Resource Manager and Trainer by occupation, a Teacher by vocation, a Creative Writer by inclination and a Foodie by passion. An avid blogger, he has written a number of fiction short stories and creative non-fiction articles in magazines and journals for many years before the advent of blogging. His delicious foodie blogs have been compiled in a book "Appetite for a Stroll". Vikram lives in Pune with his family and pet Doberman girl Sherry, with whom he takes long walks thinking creative thoughts.
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