-By Ameeta Agnihotri
Yes, it's on a one way street and yes, it is a blink-and-you-can miss it place, complete with narrow entrance lane. Try parking your car in their compound and chances are a whole team of righteous people will descend on you and shoo your car away to the neighbouring compound, wherever that may be.
“You cannot park here,” they tell me gleefully. “This is a hospital.” They add, just to make sure I'm totally confused. My stomach growls as if on cue. “All our valet drivers are on leave.” They say, so if I'm uncomfortable, I may as well go home while my 'acting' chauffer for the day is still around.
Finally things get sorted out and I'm allowed to enter.
Bright and beautiful spaces with lots of greenery steal my heart. And when they are coupled with brilliant lighting it all adds up making me want to stay there forever. Starting with the beautiful Gujju jaali-jarokha work at the entrance right behind the god and goddess sculptures, I'm captivated. Then through the arched white brick entrance, I walk up the garden path into this beautiful wood and glass space with a huge smile, all parking problems forgotten. Because one wall holds a large hauntingly captivating image of a typically rural young Gujarati girl has me looking at it again and again as I sit on a wooden chair with a marble topped table, clicking pictures on my phone. Being Gujju has its advantages. I know my favourites and what to order but simply go with the flow, letting the enthusiastic manager tell me what their best dishes are. I begin with a typically sweet, salty and nutty kachumber (salad) of raw papaya and pomegranate. Just for fun, I even opt for a taste of the spinach and date salad, again indulging in my salty sweet tooth.
My eyes widen at the sight of the methi gota with green chutney and I polish off every morsel of the two placed on my plate. They are perfect orbs, crispy on the outside and soft on the inside and come accompanied by glistening, salted green chillies. Before I could finish them, my palak muthia are laid out in front of me. I'm overwhelmed. But what the heck, they are steamed and I have a thing about muthias, besides, this is lunch, for God’s sake. So in they go, sesame seeds and all, dipped in the sweet and green chutney in turns. But, wait! There’s more. sona mohare. Deep fried kachoris stuffed with a mix of onions.
“Just half of one!” I warn my misbehaving taste buds, till another steamed treat - panki comes my way. An irresistible aroma of desi ghee floats up my nostrils. I’m more than ready to peel off those banana leaves. Thin and soft, the pankis, dipped in chutney, slide down my throat. Wish I hadn’t ordered the disappointing theplas with jamphal shak (guava curry). But, hey! There's dessert. I happily bite into sukhadi made with wheat flour and jaggery with generous amounts of ghee, delighted to be eating this childhood favourite again.
Plus & Minus:Beautiful space, affordable prices, delicious food, except when the chef is having a rough time getting the thepla dough right.
Must Try:Papaya and pomegranate kachumber, palak muthiya, panki and dukhadi.
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