The big, fat wafer trail

Updated: Dec 14, 2019, 08:58 IST | Krutika Behrawala | Mumbai

Kicking off the festive season with a house party? These old-time shops across the city will sort you out with their varieties of fried-till-crisp and flavour-packed potato wafers

Pankaj Dedhia
Pankaj Dedhia

Vile Parle's hidden gem

It may resemble one of the many farsan shops in the neighbourhood but Pankaj Farsan And Wafer Mart stands out for its small production unit where batches of potato wafers are fried every evening. Piping hot, crisp and adequately salted, the classic variety has been popular among Vile Parle's Gujarati and Maharashtrian residents since Kanti Dedhia launched the shop in 1963. "My father would fry the wafers in a coal bhatti. The aroma made you hungry," says second-generation owner Pankaj Dedhia. He now uses a gas furnace, but sticks to the traditional process. "We don't use a drying machine. Instead, we soak the slices in water to wash off the starch. We use potatoes with less water content to retain the white colour." The flavours includes tomato, peri peri and cream and onion.

At Pankaj Farsan, Shridhar Apartment, Hanuman Road, Vile Parle East.
Time 8.30 am to 10.30 pm (closed on Monday)
Call 26112716
Cost Rs 400 per kg

Usha and Ramesh Chainani
Usha and Ramesh Chainani

Fancy a peri peri or wasabi wafer?

Hindi retro hits welcome customers at A1 Wafers & Namkeen on Grant Road. They have non-greasy, wispy wafers with flavours such as peri peri, tomato, pudina, and a cheese variety, with no pasty aftertaste. "One of our customers packs six kilos of masala wafers for his birthday in the US, every year," says Usha Chainani, who has been managing the business with her son Ramesh, for over 30 years. Her father-in-law Gokuldas Chainani launched A1 Wafers in 1959. with sons Naraindas and Kishanchand. They made the wafers at the shop. In 1980s, the production shifted to Reay Road in Navi Mumbai. "We plan to introduce tadka masala, jalapeño and wasabi flavours," says Ramesh.

At A1 Wafers, Victoria Building, behind Apsara Cinema, Balaram Street, Grant Road.
Time 11.30 am to 7 pm (closed on Sundays)
Call 23077151
COST Rs 350 per kg

Welcome Wafers plant
Welcome Wafers plant

Cycle to success

Hailing from Kutch in Gujarat, Velji Gada launched Welcome Wafers in 1977. "Back then, we had 40 cycles to supply the wafers across Mumbai," he says. Their flavour list, we're told, features 50 varieties, including salsa and American cheese. The products are manufactured in Govandi and retail in Mahim. "You'll also find our wafers at Dreamland and Paradise cinema halls," says second-generation director Sameer Gada.

At Welcome Wafers, Mori Road, opposite railway station, Mahim West.
Time 9 am to 8.15 pm
Call 25512501
Cost Rs 350 per kg

Venkatesh Subbiah
Venkatesh Subbiah

A jali good fellow

A kadhai with 60 litres of boiling Vanaspati ghee sits six inches above the furnace's flame to ensure equal distribution of heat. This contraption was devised by M Subbiah when he took over Ideal Wafers in Khotachiwadi in 1958. "A Catholic resident, who had learnt to make wafers, started this shop in 1942. My father, who supplied potatoes to him, took over once the owner took up a job. Later, he bought this property too," says Venkatesh Subbiah, now in-charge of the family business.

On sale are salted, lime-and-spicy, hot masala and garlic flavoured potato wafers. A highlight is the jali wafer with crisscross patterns created by manually cutting the slices both horizontally and vertically. "It takes 1.5 hours to make a kilo of them," he says. The potato source depends on nature's vagaries, he adds. "We'd get potatoes from Talegaon, Mahabaleshwar and Hubli but the unseasonal rains have affected the crop. We're now procuring supply from Indore and Gujarat. About seven kilos of potatoes will produce less than two kilos of wafers because excess water and starch content is removed."

Dhaval Khakhar
Dhaval Khakhar

At Ideal Wafer House Compound, Khotachiwadi, Girgaum.
Time 9 am to 9 pm (Monday to Saturday), 9 am to 1 pm (Sunday)
Call 23812569
Cost Rs 360 per kg

Frills attached

Located near Malad railway station, Janta Farsan & Sweets is a popular pit-stop for those seeking a quick bite of samosa or vada pav. The shop is also known for its Nadiyadi bhusa (mixed chivda) and potato wafers that find takers from Surat, Delhi and Kolkata. The display shelves feature tomato frill wafers — tangy and spicy with just a hint of sweetness — along with cheese, peri peri and salted ones. While this shop opened in 1964, their practice of making potato wafers dates back a decade to when Dhirubhai Khakhar, a Gujarati businessman from Rajkot, launched Janta Wafers in Malad. The current space is across from the farsan store. "Back then, most wafer-making businesses were in south Mumbai. That's why, he thought of started a wafer store here," says Dhaval Khakhar, son of Janak Dhirubhai Khakhar and third-generation director of the shop.

At Janta Farsan & Sweets, Janta Niwas, near Railway Station, Daftary Road, Malad East.
Time 7.15 am to 10 pm
Call 28890126
Cost Rs 370 per kg

Boman Irani and Kunal Vijayakar

Blast from the past

Did you know that actor Boman Irani's family owned the popular Golden Wafers located behind Novelty Cinema, Grant Road? "Boman says that during the interval, people would rush to the shop to buy wafers," says food writer and TV personality Kunal Vijayakar, adding, "About 40 years ago, my grandmother sent me there. When I asked her for the address, she said, 'Stand outside Novelty Cinema and follow your nose!' Those were the best wafers in the city. After frying them, they would pour butter over them."

Also try

  • Masala jali wafers, green chilli and sweet-and-salty from Camy Wafers. At Outlets in Colaba, Mahim, Khar, Andheri West, Tardeo, Byculla, Santacruz West. Cost Rs 450 per kg
  • Cheese, peri peri or hot-and-spicy or sample kand (purple yam) wafers. At Avarya outlets in Lalbaug, Ghatkopar, Breach Candy and Santacruz West. Cost Rs 85 (200gm)

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