Mumbai Food: The Dara Singh Thali at this eatery can't be finished single-handedly
Don't bet on single-handedly finishing an eatery's newly launched Dara Singh Thali
Start of the meal
It feels a bit ridiculous to sit alone at a table in a restaurant full of people, with a thali before you that's so humongous that even Obelix, the famously gluttonous comic character, would gawk at the sight of it. The waiters have already done a double take earlier when you tell them you plan to have it all by yourself. And now that it's been served, fellow diners throw disbelieving glances in your direction, wearing smiles tinged with a sense of pity that says, "Someone please put this poor fellow in a mental asylum." In fact, one person crossing your table even vocalises his incredulity with the line, "Yeh kya hai, bhai?" But you plough on with your food regardless of all the attention, trying to muster up non-verbal signals to explain, "Listen everyone, I'd like to assure you that I'm not a lunatic, and there is a jolly good reason why I'm putting myself through this."
End of the meal
That reason, for us, is to review the Dara Singh Thali, which Mini Punjab's has introduced on their menu recently. We travel to their Powai outlet on Monday night to find a thriving eatery buzzing with the hum of families chatting over their meals. And unfortunately, the only table free for us is bang in the middle of the dining area, where there is no way to dispel the inevitable sympathetic looks we are about to be assaulted with.
The desserts that accompanied the thali
The staff is prompt in taking our order, and even more prompt in confirming that we will actually be dining alone when we tell the person, "One veg Dara Singh Thali, please." With a silent response of, "As long as you know what you are doing, sir," he retreats to the kitchen, only to return moments later with a plate of paani puris and the information that if we are indeed able to finish our meal, the restaurant won't charge us for it. Now, we know ourselves. It's not that we don't have a healthy appetite. But for us to polish off the thali that we have heard about is unlikely. So, we cautiously try one of the paani puris, with no illusions of scoring a free meal.
The reporter with the Dara Singh Thali
And sure enough, our heart skips a beat when the thali is placed on our table after 10 minutes. To start with, the circumference of the plate is such that we feel as if we are shrinking in size just by staring at it. And on top of that, the array of soups, snacks, main dishes, pickles, drinks, parathas and rice items it's loaded with is enough to give us the sort of trepidation we felt when we once walked in for our mathematics exam in school, having skipped studying three entire sections.
Nonetheless, we pick up a lachha paratha and try it with the mostly Rajasthani curries, like gatta and kadhi. The flavours vary, though on the whole, the thali holds its own when it comes to a taste test, which is saying a lot because when we count, we find 33 different items for us to finish.
But, even as we nibble away at the food, we rapidly feel our hunger slipping away like a high-profile bank-loan defaulter fleeing the country. And our sense of physical uneasiness only grows when a waiter brings us a plate with six different sweet dishes on it. Eventually, the final nail in the coffin of our appetite is hammered in by a group of six khaata-peeta-looking men who sit at the table next to us, and order for only two Dara Singh Thalis. And at the end of the day, even after we have stuffed ourselves silly, our plate shows no noticeable difference from what it looked like when first served.
So much so, that you might as well play a game of spot the difference with the "before" and "after" pictures accompanying this article.
TIMINGS: 12 pm to 3.30 pm, 6 pm to 1.30 am
AT: Mini Punjab's, Powai. Also at Thane.
COST: Rs 1,154
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