This month has been great in terms for travelling. After food coma in Kolkata (my fave currently), a cooking workshop and the launch of the Kaff store in Bundh Gardens in Pune, it was that time again to eat, eat and, I guess, eat. I have been quite a sucker or bhukkad for "everthing in pav", be it bhajjias of all kinds, kebabs, samosas and of the ethereal Vada Pav. Since the late 80s, I have been visiting the garden vada pao, just off MG road in Pune. It use to be a small cart where the frying, serving et al was done but now there is a small shop where all the frying is done and a point of sale as well. Always crowded but so clean and well managed besides being swift in service. I have to admit, it is the crunchiest Vada I have ever eaten.
The pav is layerd first with a sweet chutney, then a mat of dried chutney (sookha), followed by thevada crumbs like bhoondi which add that extra texture and an orgasm in the mouth. Adding to the pleasure is a couple of fried green chillies and a slice of lime pickle. I eat two of them and wash them down with a glass of a lip-smacking masala chaas. A must-do when you are in Pune. The JJ or the Garden Vada pav stall, as it is popularly known in Pune, is located behind Clover center near Aurora Towers. This is undoubtedly the most famous of all the vada pav outlets in Pune. Started by the Kashinath family in 1972, the quality of the vada pav (the sole item on their menu) has been retained for decades. And what sets them apart is the really hot green chutney smeared between the vada and the pav. It is prepared with ginger, garlic and chilies that add a delicious flavour to the spicy vada.
Dorabjee & Sons, established in 1878, has the most delectable Parsi cuisine. Having grown up with my Bawa friends, Parsi food is very close to my heart. This bastion of culinary hipness is a stone's throw away from The garden vada pao. An old world charm, a rustic kitchen and memorablias like the menus from 50s and 70s make it quite a trip in itself. Uncle Neville, who sits on the gallah or cash counter told me that everything is still cooked on charcoal and the flavour is something else! Even after 120 years, portions are generous. I tried some usual chicken farchaa (egg fried chicken, chicken dal, mutton biryani). The biryani is still cooked over charcoal and I witness the pot of love being dummo-fied, sealed with dough with embers of charcoal on the lid! Scientifically like an oven. The biryani was very light but delish.
I think by the time you read this, hopefully the rain gods shall be kind. Rain is the best time to binge on bhajjias and vadas. Add some delectable biryani, a chilled beer and relish the wicked Worldcup football… Game on! Have a cool wet weekend…