The magicians of Bandra East
A crawl space tucked in the khao galli near Chetna College is helmed by a husband-wife duo. They are dishing up fun, cheap fast food that's just perfect for end-of-the-month indulgence
Best budget-friendly haunts of Mumbai
Less than a year old, Saavi's Magic Kitchen is a dinky space in the middle-class neighbourhood of Kherwadi in Bandra East, helmed by husband-wife duo, Pranali and Swapnil Shirdke. They offer a miscellany of street-style fast food that epitomises the Indian understanding of fusion food, which basically translates to crossing all culinary boundaries and logic. So, let's get one thing out of the way first — if "eww" is a frequent word in your lexicon and you prefer quinoa over qorma, this place is not for you.
Anda ghotala frankie
It's a little like famous Bengali writer Sukumar Ray's nonsense rhymes from the 1923 collection of children's poems called Abol Tabol; it makes no sense, but works. Like, the white sauce pasta, which is anything but. Odd ingredients like mayo and green chilli sauce find their way into this version. Yet, when it comes together with a stored, home-made white sauce and low-quality penne for a pocket pinch of R50 (for veg; and R80 for chicken), the dish tastes inexplicably satisfying. It's much the same case with their frankies, which are like a cross between the Bombay rasta staple and North India's rolls.
The veg magic frankie (R45) is a little bit of a downer. The paratha is hard at the edges and the cold, sapid potato and veggies mash along with a mound of grated local-variety cheese is a combination that just doesn't add up. The anda ghotala frankie (R30) on the other hand, hits all the right spots. The paratha is soft and the fluffy egg has been smeared generously with Mumbai's favourite side — schezwan sauce. The egg chicken roll (R55), too, is yummy and filling and an enjoyable mix of things that would leave well-bred chefs rolling their eyes uncontrollably. Like, a chatpata schezwan sauce with a pickle-like flavour and refrigerated chicken tossed around in the same sauce rolled into a paratha along with onion and cabbage.
Chicken white sauce pasta
The hole-in-the-wall joint also offers fun versions of Maggi. The chicken Maggi (R60) here tastes palatable, if not perfect. It has a fiery red colour and comes with chopped veggies and chunks of pre-cooked chicken. Perhaps the overdose of their achaari, thick red sauce masks the instant noodle's natural flavour successfully enough to make the packaged food bearable.
Whatever it is though, with all of the spurious discounts where food delivery apps promise 50 per cent but offer no more than a concession of R75, Saavi's Magic Kitchen can very well become a saving grace during the end of the month. In the evenings, when Mr and Mrs Shirdke take over the kitchen, the food tastes better by a notch. And so, at a time when restaurants and delivery kitchens are clandestinely replacing onion with lacklustre alternatives like carrot and cabbage, the Shirdes' offerings seem magically low-priced and value for money. Do drop in when you can, unless you're on a keto diet, of course.
Pics/Suman Mahfuz Quazi
At Saavi's Magic Kitchen, next to Ribbons and Balloons, Bandra East.
Time 10 am to 10 pm
4/4 Exceptional, 3/4 Excellent, 2/4 very Good, 1/4 Good, 0.5/4 Average. Saavi's Magic Kitchen didn't know we were there. The Guide reviews anonymously and pays for meals
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