First morning of the best month of the year and this is what it looks like from the window in my kitchen . Couldn’t ask for a better start .
CST railway station all lit up for Diwali .
If all you want is rolling mist , the trill of birds , green pastures with cattle grazing and if you have a high tolerance for volatile weather , then Malshej is perfect . Most websites suggest a trip to Malshej after the initial monsoon spell has washed the rugged Sahyadris clean and the benevolent mountains ( that is what Sahyadris are called ) wear their prettiest greens .
July is when tourists throng to Malshej to take a dip in one of the innumerable waterfalls that bring this place to life . Since we were travelling with our 16 month old , we thought it better to travel before the peak monsoon season and landed there in the second week of June .
Thankfully , when most places have long lists of things to do and things to see , Malshej is an exception. Do what you want , see what is there to see – the broken ranges , the dark clouds looming over them , trees dancing in the breeze ( it can get extremely windy ) , drive down to the dam at Pimpalgaon ( about 5 km away from MTDC , Malshej ) , sit and feel at peace . These are things that I did , am sure you will find your own sights to see and experiences to have once you get there .
The white particles you see , strewn over the rocky shore, are mollusc shells .
The place behind MTDC , the view from my room.
On the last evening there , I saw one of my favourite images – an old couple walking hand in hand to enjoy a few quiet moments with the mountains. It made me feel happy and hopeful 🙂
For me , Malshej was not about the magic of monsoon , but about my little girl watching the majesty of the mountains in awe , her clapping when she saw a bird fly by and her giggling when the breeze made her curls tickle her cheeks !
Born and bred in Mumbai , vada pav has always been my snack of preference over misal Pav . Vada pav , or the Indian burger , is an ‘ on the go’ snack , whereas misal Pav needs you to sit , soak in the spicy lentil curry and then proceed. It has been my dad’s favourite and the ones I have seen being served in Mumbai are less elaborate than the one in the picture above .
Misal in Marathi means ‘ mixture’ and the dish is just that. A mixture of lentils ( sprouted mothbeans mostly ) curry , spices( Goda masala is used for the curry , a local blend of spices) , topped with farsan ( fried salted snack ) or sev and chopped onions . It’s best to squeeze in a little lime juice to bring out all the favours .
What you see in the picture is what I ordered recently at a dhaba on my way to Malshej Ghat. The man at the counter suggested I try it and I didn’t want to disappoint him , so I agreed . What was suppposed to be breakfast , looked more like lunch !
What you see is the bread ( Pav) , the misal ( spicy curry with lentils ) , some curd ( in this case it plays the fire extinguisher ) , chopped onion and lime , curd , a small bowl of extra curry ( incase you need to dunk your bread in ) and sev ( yellow salty noodle like snack ) .
It was hot but delicious . Nothing like the milder versions I have tasted here in the city ( I haven’t tasted a lot ) . I managed to finish it all and skipped lunch as a result !
I wonder why misal is under rated . It’s healthier than deep fried vadas and packs a punch in terms of proteins . Anyway , am glad I had my first whole meal of misal finally and I know this is the first of many 🙂
It’s unbelievable how I had never heard of this place until a week ago . This one is in Kalina , Santacruz East , a place I go to so often , but Thotrin cafe , tucked in the Koleveri village of Kalina ,remained a well kept secret . My sister’s colleague mentioned it to her and she was so intrigued , she went straight to the place to check it out .
I got a few pictures , a few tips on what to order ( dishes that are on the menu and those that aren’t ) and in about three days after the temptation , I gave in .
A hole in the wall , Thotrin cafe , is a simple place , three tables and a seating capacity of twelve at a time . The service is slow , but it’s worth the wait .
The beef salad , pork momos and snail curry in a potato base are dishes that you must try , none of these feature on their menu , so you’ve just got to let them know that you’ve come for those . Am not sure why they don’t have these delicacies mentioned , but word of mouth publicity has got them famous for the right dishes !
We ordered a Thotrin banana juice ( fermented ) which tasted in between vinegar and toddy ! The husband found it absolutely repulsive and one sip was all he had . I had more than half of the quantity , funnily I was enjoying the mild kick ! The term for virgin drinks in their local language is ‘chirchomri’ .
It was time for the beef salad . The beef is the dried salted version , similar to what I have had in Darjeeling , it tasted like a rubbery version of dried Bombay duck ( A Goan staple ) and I didn’t quite enjoy the texture , but the beans in the salad were yum !
Pork momos in Mumbai ! Yummy pork momos in Mumbai ! Super yummy pork momos in Mumbai ! Voices in my head shouting as I devoured them . The best I’ve had till date . They call momos – kothe 🙂
Finally , the light snail curry cooked with potatoes, mint , ginger etc and sticky rice. Two ways to get the meat out of those shells , suck or use a tooth pick . This dish and the rain outside , perfect 🙂 I didn’t think I’d enjoy snails as much as I did . This is a must try . The snail curry is called ‘ korpungla’.
The pork curry with bamboo shoot is supposed to be a star dish , but we were too full and I was dizzy with that fermented banana juice , so may be next time .
Thotrin cafe definitely packs a punch and is value for money .
The Good Friday service is the longest one of the year ( three hours or more ) in many churches across the city . The church I belong to is one of the oldest in the city and follows many traditions of the East – Indians , who are believed to be the original inhabitants of Mumbai . They speak a dialect of Marathi which is quite different from the state language which is also Marathi . When my grandfather decided to leave Goa and settle in Mumbai , he chose an East – Indian gaothan ( village) in Mumbai to call his home . Here , began our initiation into all things East- Indian , especially their food !
One such snack , if I may call it that , which I associate with the East – Indians , is GOTWAL. Ever since I can remember , this has been a Good Friday special treat sold by vendors outside the church lane exclusively on this one day of the year. Gotwal is what the East – Indians call it and that’s what I have called it all my life , until a few days ago when I read that they are called ‘hyacinth beans’ .
Gotwal is rich in protein and is believed to be the perfect way to nourish those who’ve been fasting the entire day . Sold in paper cones , they used to be a rupee each cone when I was a little girl . Now , they are sold at a much higher price but still remain perfect treats for restless toddlers who cannot keep still through three hours of sermons and silence.
The beans are boiled and salted and that’s about it , but they are always looked forward to . Today , I picked up a few for us at home and my little one had her first taste of Gotwal 🙂 Tradition continues !
An interesting poster at Balaji snack counter , Juhu beach , Mumbai . Any thoughts ?
Sunday morning + visit to Sewri + watching birds = Happiness