Misal impossible: Dadar eatery's offbeat versions of Mumbai's popular dish is irresistable
Smoky black, contemporary and green versions of the popular dish star at an ongoing misal mahotsav
In 2015, Dadar restaurant Aaswad's misal pav won international acclaim after Foodie Hub Global Awards held in London deemed it the World's Tastiest Vegetarian Snack. Owner Suryakant Sarjoshi says his version is a Mumbai version that uses Gujarati and Marathi chivda as topping. "But, we have so many other versions. Pune has a poha version, Nashik has black misal, while Malvan has its own Konkan-inspired flavour."
Get a taste of 18 different misals at the ongoing Mega Misal Mahotsav in Dadar, which concludes on Sunday. Organiser Nitesh Pawar says, "Every region in the state and every household has a distinct style of making misal. Most chefs have brought along the water from their hometown because it makes all the difference." If you can't make it this time, head to Thane's Talao Pali from November 16 to 18. We survived a fiery tasting spree to recommend five must-visit stalls.
Till November 4, 10 am to 10 pm
At Bhavani Mata Kridangan, Dada Saheb Phalke Marg, Hindmata, Gautam Nagar, Dadar East.
Sujata Achrekar and husband Vithal Belekar's most famous dish back home in the Malvan region of Konkan is the chicken gravy and vade. Last year, they made a tweak to their misal accompaniment, and served the vade made from jowar, rice and wheat instead of bread.
Sujata Achrekar and husband Vithal Belekar
It was a hit at Achrekar Misal. The thick puri-like vade go well with their seven-mix Malvani misal made from vatana, chana, moong, matki and masoor. The gravy is a watery broth that celebrates the flavours of dry and fresh coconut, even as a gentle kick from roasted masalas warms the throat.
Smoked to perfection
Vidya Bapte, owner of Mauli Misal, points to the tagline on the board: Naad Nashikcha (which loosely translates to the madness of Nashik). On offer are kaala (black) rasa and laal (red) rasa misal made with matki or moth beans.
Red and black misal from Nashik
"The black rasa masala is hand-pounded and smoked on the chulha. The beans are all boiled in the same pot.
Vidya Bapte and husband Avinash
We cook the dish in rice bran. Our misal will not hurt your throat but has the right firecrackers for the palate," she promises.
Mild and flavourful
Prabhakar Magar has a full-time job with a software giant in Hinjewadi on the outskirts of Pune. He clocks in his shift timings and then heads over to his family's Vidhyashree Misal in Dehugaon to man the stall. "We are three cousins and all of us are working professionals.
We work our shifts accordingly to ensure one of us is at the counter. My father is there every morning," he tells us, pouring a mildly coloured misal and topping it with garlic sev, plain sev and other crunchies, all made in-house.
Ramesh and Prabhakar Magar
"Our village has a Sant Tukaram shrine, and we have more bullock carts than cars," he says, pointing to a bullock cart centrepiece that holds a misal plate for show. This one doesn't burn our palate and is for all the mild-hearted foodies out there.
Shades of flavour
The Kolhapuris have the tamda and pandra rasa. Kirti Patil, owner of Chavdaar Misal from the city, gets innovative with the green gravy misal, concocted with green chillies, coriander and fresh coconut.
Red and green misal
We taste a spoonful, and surprisingly, it is only medium spicy.
Kirti Patil. Pics/Bipin Kokate
It instantly reminds us of our mother-in-law's Surti undhiyu that uses the same masala for stuffing.
A touch of modern
This is the busiest of all stalls. A Navvari saree-clad woman requests for extra tamarind chutney, while another man enquires about misal patty. The Murdeshwars from Thane are used to the queries, and introduce their fusion dishes to hungry patrons.
Garlic pav with misal and French fries
Owner Shreyas Mundeshwar says, "Ours is a Karwar-inspired home recipe, but we want to take it international, and even compete with McDonald's." One of their dishes is garlic pav with misal. Served with French fries, it adds to the dish's character, but retains the desi, tikhat swaad.
Shreyas Murdeshwar and sister Meghana Godse
Our favourite is the ragda pattice-style misal patty, which is marinated with potato pieces, oregano and basil. It comes on a bed of matki misal and a side of warm rasa. "Misal is looked down upon, but we want to give it its deserved mantle," says Murdeshwar.
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