This rail gaadi serves more than thepla
Being a Kathiyawadi Gujarati married to a Surati, we come from a household where mothers create magic with leelu lasan (green garlic), dhana-jeeru, heeng, khaand and dahi. So, our preview of Pravas, Kamala Mill's latest offering of vegetarian Gujarati cuisine, began with raised eyebrows. Will it pass the 'mummy' test?
The interiors remind us of the iconic Palace on Wheels and are designed like three interconnected rail cars. The last one is a private room for a large group. We fancy the gold brocade on the ceiling, from which hang yellow lamps, and a rustic ceiling fan. The cars feature rows of table-and-chair seating on one side, and wooden benches on the other. The feeling of a train journey sets in when you sight the windows with light pink and golden curtains. Step out of the cars and you approach the outside seating, done up with colourful Kutch patchwork hangings (the full-fledged bar area will be functional in April).
We begin our gastronomical journey led by executive chef Siddharth Parab — who toured Ahmedabad, Kutch, Bhavnagar and Surat for three months to create the menu — with a Masala Chaas (Rs 120). The touch of green chillies opens up the throat, but the overdose of chaat masala makes it too salty.
We munch on Bhungra (fryums) with Lasaniya Bateka (Rs 220), a semi-dry potato sabzi with onion, garlic and a mix of khajoor and green chilli chutney, which is a famous dish from the streets of Kutch. We peel the Plain Panki (Rs 170) off the banana leaves and dunk the flavoured rice batter in the two chutneys. It is as good as what Swati Snacks offers.
The menu comprises dishes from Maharashtra and South India, too, like the light Vegetable Moong Dal Chila (Rs 250), which is lightly spiced with onion, tomato, coriander, and the Poha Dhokla (Rs 180). The latter has a beautiful pungent flavour of curry leaves and mustard seeds, but not enough to dull the strong taste of soda.
The Misal Pav (Rs 200), though, doesn't make our eyes water, the sign of a good preparation. The Thalipeeth (R300) is of a spicy biscuit consistency elevated by the garlic raita. We wash it down with Damru Paan (Rs 210). The mocktail, garnished with a paan and betelnut leaves, has a cooling effect.
Parab has outdone himself with the Gujarati dishes. Two dishes stand out. Sev Tomato Shaak (Rs 280) is a simple preparation of pan-seared tomato and sev with garam masala, turmeric powder, salt and a pinch of sugar. The watery broth evokes nostalgia and gets our thumbs up. The Dal Dhokli (Rs 300) has the tangy punch of kokum, the sweetness of jaggery and the crunch of cashewnut and peanuts. The dhokli is wafer thin, which feeds on the thick toor (pigeon pea) dal and shapes up.
We end the meal on a sweet note with Mohanthal (Rs 240), a besan barfi made of sugar, nutmeg, dry fruit and cardamom. Parab confesses there's one dish he is still in two minds about introducing. "I tried a nutella sandwich stuffed with vanilla ice-cream. I think I'll take feedback from a few people before adding it to the menu," he shares. We are ready to be scapegoats, we tell him. Gujarati moms, you have competition.
Opens February 5, 12 pm to 12 am
AT: Pravas, Gate No 4, next to Smaaash, Kamala Mills, Lower Parel.