In the past few days, we have managed to eat a lot of food. While we have yet to consume anything that has not been downright delectable, some foods are even better than others. And some places are famous for their specialties, for a reason. This would be the case with Sardar Pav Bhaji in Mumbai’s Tardeo Circle.
According to Wikipedia, Pav Bhaji (pronounced “pow-bah-jee”) originated in Mumbai as a fast food lunch dish for mill workers. It consists of a flavorful vegetable curry with potatoes, tomatoes, onions and spices that you dip soft buttered bread rolls into. This dish is very buttery…I would say there was a quarter stick on each plate of bhaji. While not gluten-free or vegan, it is vegetarian, and quite delicious.
Last night we met up with some old friends of Ryan’s from his Mumbai days. They suggested that we eat at Sardar, the most famous joint in the city for this ubiquitous dish. Even though we already had a plate of the stuff at Chowpatti Beach that afternoon (good, but not as good as Sardar), we readily agreed, as A) we are quite keen on the dish, and B) how do you pass up anything that comes from an eatery universally agreed upon as “famous” by the local population? The place opens at 7pm, and we arrived at 7:05. All the tables already full, we were second in line of the queue that formed immediately, curving around the corner and down the street.
Serving up only one thing, Sardar is in the business of selling pav bhaji not only to the sit down clientele but also to an endless stream of to-go customers on foot and in car, which does not let up until closing time at 2am. It was fascinating to watch the cooks mashing up huge pans of butter, spices and vegetables into the famous red colored curry that we would be sopping up with hot, buttery rolls. The sheer volume of food that this place churns out is formidable, ensuring fresh, delicious fare from opening time until closing.
This restaurant is all about the food. Bright lights, stark decor and fast service are what you get. If you need more bread, simply get the waiter’s attention and he will toss another couple of rolls down on your plate. When you are finished, pay up and get out of there as there are dozens, if not hundreds, of others waiting to take your place.
When I get home I might experiment with a vegan GF version, which will certainly not taste the same, but hopefully will evoke some of the sensations that I have experienced while eating the pav bhaji here. Coconut oil, maybe? I probably shouldn’t mess with something so iconic but we’ll see…
Sardar Pav Bhaji
166b M Malviya Marg, Tardeo-tulsiwadi, Mumbai, Maharashtra 400034, India
+91 22 2494 0208
Published by kirstingreen
professional mosaic artist, jewelry designer, cook, expressive arts therapy graduate student & teacher
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