This is what a typical Sindhi home looks/feels/smells like on a Sunday: the tang of tamarind and the sizzle of besan is a promise of all good things to come to the table at lunch (read Sindhi curry). Generosity of spirit is best expressed with the amount of spices you sprinkle on the aloo tuk (twice-deep-fried potatoes). Meethi boondi comes in modest packets, dripping with oil. In the late ’80s, of course, there was that slightly religious aftertaste left by morning telecast of Mahabharata.
This is why the Royal Sindh has a lot to match up to, we think as we enter the rather no-frills premises of the month-old Versova eatery. Could it possibly beat an experience fostered by Mom, meethi boondi and the Mahabharata?
But Royal Sindh had us at Koki. We doubt even Mom would find fault with the perfectly cooked, thick roti-like dish containing onion. Koki is the perfect start to a Sindhi’s morning—the stuff good schooldays and sometimes tiffin lunches are made of. Like most Indian dishes, the more it is laden with ghee, the more delicious it is, no doubt, but one bite of Royal Sindh’s version might make you reconsider that stance.
Next comes their Aloo Tikki, and we are glad to note that it leaves no oil stains on the plate either, and tastes quite spectacular — happy with its bits of aam chur, lemon and coriander mashed with potatoes. One of us, who is not a Sindhi, now gets why we go on and on about how Sindhis are not all about papads and blingy weddings (we are that too, and we aren’t in denial).
Next, we call for the Sindhi Curry served with rice, aloo tuk, wondering whether Royal Sindh will manage to appease something Sindhis are fussiest about. Our waiter also suggests Paneer Mutter Bhuga and Sindhi Chicken Bhuga with gravy. Who are we to refuse?
It all arrives, looking quite sure of itself and accompanied by its trusted ally—simple, no-frills rice. Now, any will tell you that though most homes make Sindhi Curry by adding besan, there are a few others who prefer their base of tomatoes. Royal Sindh, of course, serves the more popular version (the one with besan) and has a smooth, deep yellow colour.
The verdict is out at first bite: Royal Sindh knows its Sindhi food and knows it is catering to finicky Sindhis who roam streets out of Khar and Chembur) and are searching for great Sindhi food. And it delivers. The curry has got its tang right, its drumsticks, potataoes and bhindi are cooked just right and float away generously.
The Aloo Tuk are crispy, tangy and soft at heart.
The Sindhi Chicken Bhuga with gravy is worth trying, too. Tender pieces of chicken acquire their taste from a good mix of spices in the gravy. The Paneer in the Paneer Mutter Bhuga is surprisingly soft.
Royal Sindh is great if you’re a Sindhi and miss home food. If you’re not one, go there to find out what the cuisine is really all about, and how Sindhi homes serve it without going to town with spices, oil and embellishments.
At: 2, Ground Floor, Opposite Jewel Shopping Centre, JP Road, Versova
Food: Home-like, delicious