The small port town of Mandvi, famous for its beach, is also the birthplace of the Dabeli. A gentleman called Keshav Malam first invented and started selling the Dabeli in this little town. We discovered Dabeli early in college when younger siblings swore by how nutritious and filling and how complete a meal a Dabeli was. A story we’re happy to tell ourselves even today.
Dabeli, literally means sandwiched or pressed. The Dabeli is a Pav, a soft little bun, crusty on top, fluffy on the inside, filled with boiled, mashed and spiced potato. When you bite into a Dabeli, you bite through the crusty pav, cooked on a griddle in so much butter, your tastebuds sing hallelujah. The buttery pav and the fluffy spiced potato mash are sprinkled through with ruby beads of pomegranate that fairly explode in your mouth, adding their tart sweetness to the crunchy, savory sev and onion. This tiny little sandwich has a beautiful, tangy & sweet date and tamarind chutney smeared inside it and all that filling is sprinkled with fresh coriander and Dabeli Masala, a spice mix of cinnamon, red chilli powder, cumin, clove and whatever else each Dabeli maker might like to add to it.
If you’re in Bombay or travelling through Maharashtra, keep an eye out for a Dabeli vendor. It is a snack to be reckoned with.
A Dabeli spot we can recommend is a stall at Santacruz station on the west side opposite a restaurant called Shabri.