Power to the pudla

Updated: Oct 14, 2019, 08:06 IST | Krutika Behrawala | Mumbai

The modest Gujarati snack gets a street-style makeover with tomato, bread and cheese, courtesy an over-50-year-old eatery in Zaveri Bazaar

Lala makes pudlas. Pics/Sneha Kharabe
Lala makes pudlas. Pics/Sneha Kharabe

It was 1968 — the year George Harrison recorded music in Fort, MIG Cricket Club was born in Bandra and diamond traders of Zaveri Bazaar got their first taste of pudla on the street. Hailing from Morbi in Gujarat, Mohan set up a modest stall — probably Mumbai's first — serving the piping hot, savoury crêpes in an alley of the bustling jewellery hub.

Having garnered a loyal clientele for over 50 years, he's now synonymous with this Gujarati snack, so much so that he calls himself Mohanbhai Pudlawala and runs a namesake eatery, set up in a shop opposite the spot where his journey began. These pudlas also stand tall in the company of other old-timers such as jalebi, ghee kachori, namkeen and chaat offered in the khau galli.

Moong dal pudla
Moong dal pudla

Pudla punch

Unlike dosas, pudlas are unfermented and made using besan (gram flour). The menu features six permutations and combinations of besan pudlas and two of moong dal (green gram) pudlas. Considering we have access to pesarattu in other parts of the city, we stick to the besan varieties here.

The no-frills eatery houses about eight community-style tables. The 77-year-old owner sits at the cash counter. His son, Lala, 43, usually takes over the sizzling hot tava to rustle up the amber-hued snack for a steady stream of patrons, who visit from the nearby Mangaldas Market and Mulji Jetha Market too.

Bread cheese pudla
Bread cheese pudla

We order the regular pudla ('40), which is their bestseller, and tomato pudla ('40). Each is served with chopped onion, three types of chutneys — red chilli-garlic, mint-coriander, and tamarind — and a slice of bread. Light and fluffy with crisp edges, the regular version tastes best with the sweet-sour imli chutney. The other variety scores for a generous topping of coriander and tomatoes, cooked till tender and lending a delightful acidity to the dish.

Gujju-French connection
The highlight is bread cheese pudla ('50), prepared like a French toast. First, a staffer soaks two slices of bread in the batter and slaps them on the tava. He grates a mound of cheese on one slice and covers it with the other, turning it into a sandwich of sorts. The bread-cheese-besan combo packs a punch with its flavours, reminiscent of bread pakoda. Except, this version isn't deep-fried or stuffed with carb-laden potatoes.

Mohanbhai and his son, Lala outside their over 50-year-old eatery
Mohanbhai and his son, Lala outside their over 50-year-old eatery

The eatery's signboard reads Lala Fast Food because the menu includes ragda pattice, too. But it's the pudlas that are crowd-pullers. "They are healthy and filling," says a patron, who lands up here at least once a month. "I also enjoy them because Lala uncle makes them with a lot of passion."

At Mohanbhai Pudlawala, 3rd Agiary Lane, Nashta Galli, Zaveri Bazaar.
On 11 am to 8.30 pm (closed on Sundays)

Get a taste of innovation

From green pav bhaji to guava-flavoured pani puri, Maa Anjani Pav Bhaji Centre offers innovative fare. The same is the case with their pudlas, introduced on the menu five years ago. Pick from a dozen varieties, including jumbo sandwich pudla, palak corn pudla, paneer pudla or schezwan pudla. Prices range from '50 to '100.

At Maa Anjani Pav Bhaji Centre, Shop 1, Haridas Nagar, Avanti Building, Borivali West.
Time 4 pm to 11.30 pm

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