Thane's famous Mamledar Misal is still going strong

Nov 04, 2017, 18:36 IST | Dhara Vora Sabhnani

It is 11.30 am, and a simple eatery at the Tahsildar Office complex in Thane is packed with patrons. There's no signboard but everyone around, from the autowallah who drops us to the traffic cop, knows where Mamledar Misal stands. For 65 years since opening, Mamledar has managed to pull in an envious list of known faces, from politician Raj Thackeray to actor Mahesh Manjrekar.

Mamledar's misal is known for its spice levels. Pics/Datta Kumbhar
Mamledar's misal is known for its spice levels. Pics/Datta Kumbhar

Masala maar ke
"My grandfather Narsinha Murdeshwar arrived in Thane from Karwar and started a 50-sq ft snack joint. We sold all kinds of items, including vada, but the popularity of misal increased and people started calling us Mamledar Misal, as the Tahsildar was earlier called Mamledar," says Damodar Murdeshwar, who is now in the midst of expanding the brand. Currently, they boast of 14 outposts across Mumbai and Navi Mumbai. These include standalone outlets and offerings at separate entities, the latest being at Vile Parle. The original joint remains without any signboard, as it's a government canteen leased out for 99 years to the family.

Damodar and Laxman Murdeshwar
Damodar and Laxman Murdeshwar

Started in 1952, it is still run by the Murdeshwar family. Damodar's 80-year-old father, Laxman, still mans the counter at the original outlet. He prefers that his son do the talking, as he continues to hand out change to customers. "Since it was a small property, my father would wait tables too. Even today, he is at the counter from 11 am to 4 pm. Both my sons are studying hotel management, and will enter the family business," he adds, when we meet him at Hotel Amantran, another restaurant owned by the family.

The new outlet at Vile Parle
The new outlet at Vile Parle

All in the family
Thane remains their main fortress which controls the food operations across all outlets. Food is prepared in their central kitchen, and is transported to its outposts. We asked if we could be given a kitchen tour, only to be informed that it is out of bounds to outsiders. Damodar tells us that having a central kitchen ensures they are able to maintain their signature taste across every branch. The menu remains the same everywhere, but for the addition of Jain misal at outlets in Gujarati dominated Kandivali and Vile Parle says Anand Ralegankar from HCSI, the hospitality advisors to the new-age Mamledar.

The cramped interiors don't stop hordes from dropping in
The cramped interiors don't stop hordes from dropping in

The recipe is a family secret. The farsan used in the misal is made in-house too. "My grandmother would blend all the spices for the misal masala by hand. Her recipe is used till today, and remains within the family," he reveals as servers mill around us serving dosas and sandwiches at other tables at Amantran.

What makes Mamledar's misal extra special is the three varieties, categorised according to the levels of heat — light, medium and very spicy; each level is adjusted using the special tari (a spice-laden watery gravy) on the side.

The delicious glasses of buttermilk have become a must for a post-meal cool down. Such is the fandom that several plates are packed off to Mantralaya in SoBo, for babus who yearn for it after having sampled it on visits to the Tahsildar and Thane Zilla Parishad office. Damodar tells us that regulars also include theatrewallahs, who frequent the popular Gadkari Rangyatan. "Some of our loyal customers who have moved abroad return after decades and insist on dropping by for our misal," Damodar says with pride.

The family now has plans to open a branch in Pune. But will misal from Mumbai be able to please Punekaris? "Puneri misal is made with moong and matki; ours is cooked with green peas and potato. So it tastes different, and is certainly spicier," Damodar assures. "Besides, Pune has grown into a cosmopolitan city, so today's Punekars are open to change," concludes Ralegankar.

At: Opposite Zilla Parishad, Talav Pali, Thane West. Newest outlet at Chittranjan Road, Vile Parle.
Call: 9702108035 (Thane)

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