There are some multi-cuisine joints in Mumbai that club idli, dosa, uttapam and its ilk under one section vaguely termed as 'South Indian'. And then, there's Gonguura. Named after the sorrel leaf integral to Telugu cuisine, the week-old eatery serves only traditional, pure vegetarian fare from Andhra Pradesh and Telangana. Excited at the thought of gorging on this rarely-savoured fare in Andheri, we couldn't wait to check it out. The well-lit eatery featured seven-odd tables, a couple of wall paintings and a kitschy chimney-like contraption.
Our meal included (from left) buttermilk, Gonguura Special Thali and Pesarattu. Pics/Tushar Satam
Once settled in, we reached out for the menu and were instantly enticed by different varieties of thalis, flavoured rice preparations, medu wadas, dosas, uttappams as well as dishes like Punugulu (an Andhra tea time snack) and Dibba Roti. Though limited, the menu also featured a kids' section with cutesy names like Baby Idlis and Baby Dosas. A basic guide to Telugu flavours — spicy with liberal use of tamarind, tomato and lentils in the curries — also found a mention in the menu.
The interiors of Gonguura
We opted for the Gonguura Special Thali (Rs 350), Pesarattu (Rs 150) and Buttermilk (Rs 70). First up was the Pesarattu. Made from moong dal (split green gram) batter, the thin and crispy crepe-like dosa was laced with chopped onions and chillies. It was accompanied by chutney and sambhar, but tasted much better with the Gonguura Pacchadi — spicy and slightly bitter, gongura leaf chutney that was part of the seasonings placed on the table. It was delish and wholesome too! Garnished with coriander, the buttermilk was a tad sour. The thali, loaded with eight tiny bowls laid on a banana leaf in a plate, arrived next. We needed help from the owner (Srividya, a home-cook hailing from Andhra Pradesh) to figure out the spread.
Our thali featured a brinjal-tomato chutney, Dosa Avakaya pickle, rasam, sambhar, dal, three vegetables — potato fry with peanuts, cabbage and coconut dry veggie as well as one with lauki-chana dal (bottle gourd and Bengal gram) — Pulihora rice, curd, two pooris and Payasam. We were told that the veggies and the sweet dish changed on a day-to-day basis.
We began with a dig into the chutney and pickle. The tangy brinjal-tomato chutney had a hint of mustard while Dosa Avakaya resembled the mango pickle albeit made from a type of cucumber. The fluffy pooris (thankfully, without any dripping oil) tasted best with the spicy potato fry. The tiny potato cubes were fried to perfection and the peanuts added to the crunch. Tempered with curry leaves and mustard, the grated coconut and cabbage vegetable was bursting with flavours.
The dal as well as the lauki-chana dal vegetable was high on salt. Avoidable. Luckily, we could polish off the Pulihora rice, richly flavoured with tamarind and crunchy urad dal (white lentils). The traditional sambhar lacked whole veggies but scored on taste. The highlight of the thali was the tangy tomato and tamarind flavoured rasam, seasoned with cumin and pepper. Pouring it over the piping hot plain rice (served once we were done with the pooris), we gorged on this ultimate comfort food. Much to our delight, the thali offered unlimited servings and we ended up calling for a few more helpings. Satiated, we ended the meal with the thick, not-too-sweet Payasam that was laced with cardamom.
TIME 11 am to 11 pm
AT Juhu Ekta CHS, Juhu Versova Link Road, Andheri (W).
Gonguura didn’t know we were there. the guide reviews anonymously and pays for its meals.