On Mumbai’s culinary map, the Eastern suburbs remain largely unexplored. Although a multi-ethnic area, Chembur, with its significant Punjabi and Sindhi community, has a number of places that serve finger-licking food at modest prices. From restaurants serving Sindhi breakfast staple Dal pakwan and Sev barfi to Kerala’s fish moily, Meenakshi Iyer walks Chembur’s leafy bylanes to find the best eateries.
THIS 48-year-old restaurant on CG Road opens at the crack of dawn and dishes out crispy pakwan served with spicy and tangy chana dal preparation (Rs 40), which they run out of by noon. Vig is one among many Sindhi joints that dot this arterial road and sees an incessant flow of trucks and tankers. Also famous here are the chhole puri (Rs 60) and chhole-pattice (Rs 60). The cutlet has a delicious stuffing of chana dal. At the lassi counter, its staff is busy churning the creamy lassi, dhaba style, served with a dollop of extra malai. “For the last four decades we have the same suppliers and that’s why you get the same quality of food,” says Pravin Arora, the third generation owner, who swears by his mother’s recipes,
and has added to the
Shop No17, CG Road,
CHEMBUR’S Camp area gets its name from the fact that it was a refugee camp during Partition. Among those who permanently settled in the neighbourhood was Jhamamal Lulla, a halwai. The tiny sweet shop, Jhama, he set up in 1950 is today a landmark on Mumbai’s culinary map. If he found patrons in politicians and Bollywood stars, it was because of his delectable gulab jamuns (Rs 18 a piece) and Sev barfi (Rs 480 per kg), a traditional Sindhi sweet made using mawa and sev cooked over low flame and topped with dry fruits. In winter, the gajar halwa is a hot seller. “In the ’60s, Raj Kapoor bought our gulab jamuns to send to Russia. Even today, the Kapoors place weekly orders,” says Naresh Chawla, who has worked at Jhama for nearly two decades.
Dr Choitram Gidwani Road
EARLIER a caterer to film sets, this restaurant is now a popular joint serving simple Punjabi meals. Known for its Sarson ka saag (Rs 40) and Makai ki roti (Rs 10), Vaishno Punjab has a loyal Jain clientele from across the city. The thick saag is served with a dollop of butter and the roti is made in the phulka style. You could also try their dahi kadhi, available on Thursdays and Sundays, and rajma, on the menu on Fridays and Sundays. “My father started the restaurant when this area was marsh land. There was no electricity and we would use Petromax lanterns,” reminisces Updesh Kumar Sharma, whose family moved to Mumbai from Karachi.
Chembur Colony Signal,
IT’S easy to miss this hole-in-the-wall eatery on CG Road, but the regulars can guide you to the spot. Sainath Kulcha has been dishing out stuffed tandoori kulchas made in a traditional clay oven for the last 20 years and their menu comprising aloo, paneer and cheese variants (Rs 50-Rs65 a piece) hasn’t changed since. The dollop of butter sure adds to the taste of the kulchas but the secret ingredient behind his popular recipe is the spice mix, sprinkled on top.
Near Golf Club, Chembur Camp
Bhatt Vishranti Gruha
THIS unpretentious restaurant near Chembur Naka has been serving chai with vada pav to those travelling on the highway to Pune for the last six decades. However, it’s the spicy missal-pav (Rs 35), served with a slice of lime and chopped raw onion, that patrons keep coming back for. The missal’s gravy is their best-kept secret that the owners encourage their patrons to dunk a potato vada into it for
more flavour. Sion-Trombay Road, Chembur Naka
THE restaurant’s location, next to a country liquor bar, can be discouraging but their thalis, serving Kerala cuisine, on banana leaf should not be missed. Famous for its fish moily (Rs 280) and prawn masala fry (Rs 300) that should be paired with appams (Rs 22) or idiappams (Rs 25), Sunny caters to the large Malayali population residing in Chembur’s Shell Colony. Shop 43, Shell Colony Road