Usal Misal

Prakash

Panduram Jadhav has been a part of Prakash for 20 years and he tells us he owns a part of this establishment that is over 35 years old. He is also our server today at this Maharashtrian Cooperative restaurant.

Most of the servers and cooks at Prakash own a stake in the restaurant and maybe I imagined this but that ownership came through in the speed, efficiency and taste as we ordered our lunch and watched the packed place hum away busily.

Prakash is a no-nonsense little eatery specialising in Maharashtrian breakfast fare and at lunchtime on a weekday, the place is full. There is an easy, no-fuss communal feel as people share tables at this busy spot in Dadar and order, eat and leave satisfied. The place buzzes with sounds but nearly all the noise is from the staff. The patrons are too busy eating.

‘Thalipeeth…lifted from a passable dish to something phenomenal by serving it with that delicious Dahi Chutney.’

With a very succinct menu, we make our choices easily and order 4 different dishes. The dishes come in adorable portions and the small plate sizes means if you want fill up, you order a variety. What could be bad about that.

Our spread starts with Misal, spicy and crunchy. The garnish of raw onions and coriander on this dish is a fresh and crisp counterpoint to the smooth, soft taste of the beans cooked in the misal.

Our Thikhat Sheera, a smooth upma like dish is savory and brightly colored with turmeric. Peas, onions and green chillies make this a delightful burst of flavor with every mouthful.

The order of Thalipeeth comes with a dip which is like a kadhi. Tempered curd with turmeric, mustard seed and vinegared green chilli, it’s called Dahi chutney. The brown discs of thalipeeth are made of a combination of rice flour, gram flour, ground urad dal, run through with fried onions and coriander seeds and spiced with Cumin, Coriander powder and Turmeric.  They are a deep fried, crisp and thick pancake which is lifted from a passable dish to something phenomenal by serving it with that delicious Dahi Chutney.

Rounding out our surprisingly wholesome feeling lunch is a Sabudana khichdi. Light and fluffy sabudana with hardly any oil, the dish is tempered with cumin seeds and green chilies. Incredibly flavorful for simple fasting food.

We select a Dink Ladu and Kharwas for dessert. Dink Ladu is a small sweetmeat made of dry dates, dink/gond, coconut, cashews, jaggery, cardamom and raisins rolled together in a tasty little ball. Kharwas, a really unexpected dish, is a steamed pudding made of the milk that comes from cows within a day of calving. Both were fun endings to a meal that was already a delight.

This entire spread cost us an unbelievable Rs.176.

Near Shiv Sena Bhavan, Gokhale Road, Dadar West, Mumbai

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