Recently, book shops and I have become really good friends. I try not to buy too many books at a time. But, if some shop is selling good old books for Rs. 20 or 50 per copy, then how can I stop myself? I am referring to the book shop across Babulnath temple, Chowpatty from where I picked half a dozen books few days back. One of the books which I picked, is a very old second impression of “Jataka Tales” (1970), which was selling for Rupees 4.50 then (originally published in 1957). This compilation of short stories of previous lives of Gautama Buddha, in both human and animal form are food for thought! Each story of wisdom and moral is a veritable treasure of Indian folklore.
Right next to this bookstore, there is an authentic vegetarian restaurant “Soam”, famous for Gujarati and Rajasthani dishes. The food here is served in vintage style dull golden colour plates and bowls, placed on mats made of dried leaves.
My favourite snack here is Bhajia, fried nuggets of moong dal and onions which is served in bowls made of dried leaves just like the way we find it on roadside stalls. For starters, do try Handvo chutney, a baked rice and lentil cake served with coriander chutney.
As the quantity of food is rich, you may consider going there with a group or you could also take multiple rounds individually. For main course, I ordered Masala Fada Khichdi with Kadhi, a nutritious preparation made with cracked wheat, yellow moong dal, vegetables and spices, complemented with homemade clarified butter (ghee) and served with a delicately spiced savoury yoghurt curry.
Some of other delicacies which I relish are seasonal Aamras Puri (mango puree served with deep fried bread), Dal Dhokli (made by boiling thick wheat flour noodles in a pigeon pea stew) and the one meal dish Gatte ki Sabzi with masala Satpadi (gram flour dumplings flavoured with dry spices, steamed and dunked into a yoghurt based curry).
Many a times, I go to restaurants just for desserts as my twinnie has a sweet tooth! Kesar Jalebi, a deep fried wheat flour batter in pretzel or circular shapes, which are then soaked in sugar syrup, is an all-time favourite! For me, Malai Malpua is something to die for! It is a pan cake made using dollops of pure ghee and stuffed with soft mawa (milk solids). This is the best Malpua I have ever had and it leaves me with paroxysms of pleasure! I prefer this over the very famous Malpua at Mohammad Ali road.
After intake of this calorie bomb, my muscles do not support any movement. So, after eating, reading is the best activity and these parables of Jataka Tales are sure to entertain and elate!
Cheers – Lubna