Dal Pakwan is typically a Sindhi breakfast delicacy.
There are a few suburbs in and around Mumbai, such as Ulhasnagar and Chembur, that boast of restaurants serving some lip-smacking Sindhi food. You will find several places at the crack of dawn enveloped with the aromas of freshly-made Dal Pakwan and Chole Tikki, dishes that every Sindhi love.
Sindhi restaurants in the city were primarily started by refugees who came to India after the Partition. Since they are not very popular, I decided to go town hopping to find some interesting restaurants serving Sindhi food and their stories. These are some of my favourite haunts.
1. Vig Refreshment, Chembur
Third generation owner Pravin Arora with his cousin.
This 50-year-old restaurant in Chembur dishes out some crispy pakwan along with spicy and sour dal. Every morning, people queue up for almost half an hour to grab a plate of this delicious Dal Pakwan.
Pravin Arora, the third generation owner of the restaurant, swears by his mother’s recipes. “Vig was originally owned by my maternal family, and it took a lot of effort over the years to give it the popularity it deserves. We make everything from masalas to pakwan ourselves. That is the reason behind the never-changing food quality at Vig,” he says.
Vig is among those few eateries in Mumbai that serve original Sindhi dishes. Pravin boasts of satisfied customers, and says, “There are people who sit and eat here, but don't complain about the ambience or don’t mind sweating it out. This is because they expect the taste they have grown up with and we have been successful in fulfilling this expectation over the last five decades. We try to make sure that there are no complaints.”
Show stoppers: Apart from the dal pakwan (Rs. 45), which is served till 2 pm, you can try the chhole pattice (Rs. 60), chhaas (Rs. 35), and samosa (Rs. 40).
Guru Kripa serves one of the most delicious chhole tikki in Mumbai. Photo: Navin Chandwani
Started in 1975, Guru Kripa is now a popular eatery at Sion, serving simple Sindhi meals, tangy chaat and delicious sweets. Known for its chhole tikki and chhole samosa, Guru Kripa has a loyal band of local customers as well as patrons from across the city. The owner Gobind Wadhwa says, “It was named Guru Kripa because our saint recommended this name. We have a separate lunchbox menu and serve lunchboxes to around hundreds of corporates, hospitals and organisations.”
Guru Kripa also has South Indian dishes on its menu, but is most popular for its North Indian and Sindhi items.
Show stoppers: You must try the chhole tikki (Rs. 42) and chhole samosas (Rs. 42) here. Tikkis, samosas or pattice are topped with spicy Punjabi chhole, green chutney and sev. You can also try the gulab jamuns (Rs. 30).
Where: 40, Guru Kripa Building, Road 24, Near SIES College, Sion, Mumbai
3. Jhama Sweets, Chembur
Jhama Sweets is renowned for its Gulab Jamun.
Jhama gets its name from its first owner, Jhamamal Lulla. “It was set up by a Sindhi refugee from Karachi. Our families lived in refugee camps in Mumbai then. We started with a small shop and today are seen to have a monopoly in selling authentic Sindhi sweets and chaat,” says Ravi, a third generation Lulla. Jhama has seven branches in Mumbai, but the one in Chembur is frequented the most.
The gulab jamuns at Jhama are enjoyed by B-town celebrities too like Amitabh Bachchan and Salman Khan, says Ravi Lulla.
Being a sweet shop, snack and chaat outlet all rolled in one, Jhama boasts of a variety of food items. However, the sweets are the real winners here.
Show stoppers: The sev barfi (Rs. 540 per kg) and gulab jamuns (Rs. 20 per piece) of course!
Where: 2, Atur Park, Sion Trombay Road, Chembur, Mumbai
4.Doli Nasta House, Ulhasnagar
Doli Nasta house serves delicious dal pakwan, kokis etc early in the morning.
Doli Nasta house got its name from its owner Daulatram Talreja. Located near Ulhasnagar station, the 20-year-old Doli Nasta House dishes out tangy and spicy dal pakwan, dal moong and kokis to patrons in and around Ulhasnagar. The food here gets over within 3 to 4 hours from the time it opens.
“My mother used to cook dal pakwan very often and I learned how to make it from her. One fine day, I decided to have a handcart that served only dal pakwans, and today we own a shop dishing out thousands of plates of dal pakwan, kokis, samosa each day,” says the shy entrepreneur, Daulatram Talreja.
The simply prepared dal is perked up with green chillies, secret spice powders and cumin seeds. It is served along with the crispy pakwan that is similar to a deep fried puri made with plain flour dough. The crispy samosa is mercilessly crushed and put in to chana dal making it a comfort food. Keep the ambience aside and expect your taste-buds to dance in Doli Nasta House.
Show stoppers: You must try dal pakwan (Rs. 25), dal moong (Rs 15), Kokis (Rs. 10) and samosas (Rs. 12).
Where: Railway Station Road, Ramayan Nagar, Ulhasnagar, Maharashtra - 421003
5. A1 Pani Puri House, Ulhasnagar
Batan papdi is a lesser-known chaat delicacy.
A1 Pani Puri House, located in camp 3 of Ulhasnagar, is popular for its chaats. The outlet serves mouth-watering pani puri and batan papdi. Batan is a smaller version of the regular pav (bread). They are initially soaked in spicy water (so that they absorb maximum water to acquire a unique flavour and at the same time they don’t get soggy). The batans are then served with chutney, papdi, onions and some spices.
Show stoppers: The batan papdi (Rs. 25) obviously!
Where: Gol Maidan, Ulhasnagar, Maharashtra - 421003
A few other places in Mumbai where you can find some Sindhi grub.