New Bawa on the block
A Grant Road takeaway is serving common and lesser-known Parsi eats. Situated around established competitors, with a mix of hits and misses, it has us say, the more the merrier
People will tell you Mumbai is too fast-paced but there are a few places where time continues to stand still. You'll notice it only if you are not in a rush yourself. A few yards off the west exit of Grant Road Railway Station, a neighbourhood exists in a happy lull. The air is brimming with aromas of freshly made farsan, flowers in full bloom and the tender perfume (perhaps Tabu or Shalimar) of grandmas clad in cute dresses, heading to the peculiarly organised bhaaji market.
Egg and chutney pattice
This is the Bombay of yore where cacophony becomes humdrum, and it is also where, a few strides away from the station, a small takeaway popped up two months ago. Helmed by Dilshad Karnade, Parsilicious is the quintessential mohalla go-to for sudden cravings. And you'd really have to set out looking for the place to be able to spot it; chances are that it will slip the naked eye.
It is tiny, primarily like a deli, with a few snacks on offer through the course of the week, and the mains available on rotation as daily specials. You'd do well to call up in advance and place your order, even more so if you're looking to try the dhansak, a Sunday treat, on say, a Tuesday. The nibbles seem to run out rather quickly — at 1 pm the counter already looks sparse.
For this trial, we pick an assortment of offerings — Russian pattice (R55), mutton kheema cutlets (R60), kheema pattice (R60), chicken cutlet (R55) and chicken farcha (R110), and papeta ni marghi (R150) for the mains. An hour later, a call from Karande clarifies that our order has been botched up, for her staffer forgot to pack the chicken and Russian cutlets and the farcha, and that she's sending someone over with the same.
Meanwhile, we tuck into the fare, beginning with the mutton kheema cutlets. The 'lace' on an authentic Parsi version is as precious a trimming as the real deal on a Christmas mass dress. Unfortunately, on Karande's kheema cutlet, the lace is droopy and scant. And while the filling is tasty, the cutlet itself is flat. Parsi cutlets are typically robust. You plough through one of them with garam rotli, and you shouldn't want to transition to the mains, is the idea. The same fate meets the chicken farcha, with a thicker-than-usual egg batter and a willowy lace that is practically non-existent. It's our least favourite dish here.
The Russian pattice, on the other hand, is roly-poly perfect. There's a hit of spice each time you bite into the chopped chillies making the creamy potato, white sauce and cheese filling come alive. It's gooey, without being icky, and the coalition of otherwise opposing flavours makes this a star.
The kheema filling in the papeta kheema pattice is khattu-mitthu (sweet-sour) and generous, but we would have liked the chutney in the eeda (egg) chutney pattice to have been piquant and spicy. It is palatable still, for you can enjoy the filling, which is stuffed in copiously before you actually reach the egg.
The papeta ni marghi, an everyday chicken-potato gravy, can be made in multiple ways. A coconut milk version made famous by Katy Dalal, is oh-so-delicious. Karande's dish chose the masala-tomato route to offer a runny gravy that's tangy and would have gone well with white rice. Rice wasn't available so we tried it with laadi pav. Competent in taste, we think. Interestingly, it tastes similar to the home-style chicken and aloo korma that is ubiquitous in Bengali Muslim homes, which has the same aromatic and shorba-like gravy, often enjoyed with short-grain rice polao.
Karande has chosen to set up shop in what was once a bawa bastion. Next door to Grant Road Station, Nana Chowk already has the legendary takeaways Belgaum Ghee Depot (we love your daal ni pori, Farrokh Workingboxwalla) and PAC (survive the snappy women at the counter and the universe gifts you a delicious plate of dhansak and tikkha kavab, and chicken patty — smaller than the competition's but of melt-in-the-mouth variety). They will keep her on her toes. And while the whole point of starting a community food outlet should be to have everyone get a taste of another cuisine, the real test is when your food can gather a crowd of bawas themselves, waiting patiently to pick up their grub from the kitchen at the rear of the counter, despite a matron telling them off, "Time laagse!"
At Parsilicious, Naushir Barucha Marg, Grant Road West.
Time10 am to 8 pm; 10 am to 2 pm (on Sundays)
4/4 EXCEPTIONAL, 3/4 EXCELLENT, 2/4 VERY GOOD, 1/4 GOOD, 0.5/4 AVERAGE
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