Mumbai Food: Savour pav-filled delicacies, Maharashtrian delights at these two pop-ups
Attend two pop-ups, where one focuses on hidden gems from Maharashtra while the other packs the world in a pav
The pav goes global
Pack-A-Pav is one place that has turned the humble vada pav on its head, giving the Mumbai staple a makeover with quirky fillings. And every few months, the restaurant hosts an event called Pav With Friends, where worthy home cooks and chefs are invited to take over the menu. This time, the invitation has been extended to Danda Food Project. Pack-A-Pav founder Rohan Mangalorkar reveals, "The reason is that they do refreshingly different cuisine without compromising on quality." And having accepted his proposal, Aditya Raghavan and Anandita Kamani, the brains behind the pop-up dinner series, promise to take guests on a culinary trip around the world, with the pav being the chosen vehicle.
The first destination is Vietnam, with a banh mi-inspired dish. "Just like the Portuguese gave us the pav, banh is a bread that came to Vietnam with the French, who filled it with things like pork terrine and liver mousse. But the Vietnamese then gave it their own flavour, with sriracha and pickled carrots," Raghavan informs.
The culinary journey then proceeds to Korea, with a pav filled with bulgogi, a classic barbecue recipe usually made with beef. This version, though, is with mutton. "It will also have a lot of mushrooms, with a spicy in-house kimchi balancing out the sweetness that comes from the brown sugar and apples in the sauce," Raghavan tells us.
He adds that the next stop, Mexico, is meant for vegetarians. This pav is a take on a popular staple called rajaf con crema. "Instead of Mexican peppers, we have added spicier Bhavnagari chillies. It's blended with goat cheese and hung yogurt, and it all comes together with a roasted corn and potato patty," Raghavan says, adding, "And then we come to the US of A. Excessive, delicious, cheesy — whatever the adjective you choose, it applies to the chilli hot dog we will add to this pav, along with a cheddar cheese sauce that has a hint of beer in it."
What a load of bulgogi
The final destination is the UK, with a dessert that is a cross between bread pudding and an apple pie. But Raghavan also adds that he is a big fan of the plain and simple vada pav, indicating that even if you have travelled across seven seas, sometimes, there is no place like home to come back to in the end.
ON May 12 and 13, 12 pm to 1 pm
AT Pack-A-Pav, Pali Hill, Bandra West. CALL 9920230240
COST Rs 100 to Rs 180 for each
The spread at the Maharashtrian pop-up
Lost and found
It would be a mistake to assume that the culinary map of Maharashtra is restricted to places like the Konkan, Kolhapur and Nagpur, and the ubiquitous roadside stalls in cities like Mumbai and Pune sustaining the masses with vada pav and misal. That's because the tribal belt in Gadchiroli and the saatvik-dominated areas of Solapur, for example, contain hidden gems, which make them equally important landmarks when it comes to food in the state. And now, a pop-up this weekend is highlighting these places to alter common percetion about what constitutes typical Maharashtrian dishes.
A mother-daughter duo, Sugandha and Vaishali Polke, is hosting it. They are part of the think-tank behind Being Marathi, a YouTube channel that aims to shine a light on the cuisine that tends to get lost in the state's hinterland. The menu thus contains something called kadaknath chicken. It's a black fowl in which the meat — believe it or not — is also black in colour. "When we had first cooked it, even we were taken aback," Vaishali tells us, adding that the bird — which is found mainly near the Madhya Pradesh-Maharashtra border — is prohibitively expensive, with the prices for one rising up to as high as Rs 2,000.
Then, there is chandkyachi daal. It's a family recipe rooted in religion. "There is a highly pious community in Pandharpur, the Vitthals, who go on a pilgrimage during ekadashi every year. And this daal is part of the food that's made for their journey. But we have given it a twist by adding balls of flour shaped like the moon — be it a crescent or fully round shape — into it. Hence the name chandkyachi," Vaishali explains.
The rest of the dishes feature equally lesser-known food, such as olya shengdanyachi chutney, made with peanuts, garlic and red chillies. But some of the items, such as bharli khadi vangi and saoji mutton, have made their way into the menus of some Mumbai eateries. "Even then, you are unlikely to find authentic versions because the restaurants commericialise the food to suit people's palates. If you want the real deal, you will have to actually travel to the places where these dishes originated. Or, you can come for our pop-up, since my mother doesn't mess around with the recipes," Vaishali signs off.
ON May 12, 7.30 pm AT Navi Mumbai (the exact address will be shared on signing up). LOG ON TO authenticook.com cost Rs 1,150
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