3 September 2007

Eating out - Diva Maharashtracha

WBB News
Glenna has posted the round up of WBB # 14- Ethnic breakfasts. Check out breakfasts from the world here. WBB comes back to Saffron Trail this month, I shall be posting the theme tomorrow. We have a couple of hosts lined up for the next two months. If you are interested in hosting WBB, please write to me at saffrontrail@gmail.com.

Check the viral ad for Orbit White chewing gum below based on Sholay! You'll laugh your guts out!

You must have heard of Goa Portugesa and Culture Curry, two popular theme restaurants in Mumbai / Bombay. I believe these even have mention in the Lonely Planet's guide to the city of Bombay. Goa Portugesa as the name suggests specialised in Goan food and Culture curry serves up a melange from the South Indian states. I have been to neither. The restaurants are run by a couple, Dr. Suhas & Deepa Awchat. It was announced in the papers that their new and third restaurant Diva Maharashtracha -specializing in authentic Maharashtrian cuisine had a vegetarian food festival on for the month of Shravan, Sumanth and I decided to give it a go. Besides, we had never dined in an authentic Marathi restaurant, despite living in Bombay.

After a heavy duty Sunday late afternoon workout in our gym, we felt we had earned ourself a good meal. Having made reservations, we landed there 15 minutes before time. All 3 restaurants are located next to each other near Hinduja Hospital or the Shivaji Park area in central Bombay.

The outside is done up like a Maharashtrian fort, albeit a bit too shiny for a fort! After a short wait and a glass of complementary Kokum Sharbat, we were shown inside to the tunes of the traditional Peshwa style announcing trumpet. It was only later I realised that everytime someone opened the door, the recorded music played automatically, and after hearing the long drawn trumpet screech around 5 times, I was quite sick of that sound ;)
[Update: This instrument is called Tutari, credit to this enlightenment goes to our Maharashtrian friend, Kedar]

Made to sit in one of the corner tables, I did not get a view of the entire place but there was live music playing within...from popular Marathi songs to Bollywood and even ghazals.

We ordered the Solkadhi, a coastal drink made using coconut milk, kokum extract. This was too thick and milkshake-like for my liking. Having spoilt by the coastal restaurant opposite Ogilvy in Lower Parel, I was expecting that kind of a taste. They were nice enough to replace it but still the taste wasn't the same. Hubby had a Shahaleche Limbu Sharbat, which is nothing but a lime squeezed inside coconut water, served in the shell.

Mango pickle - Green chilli thecha - Garlic coconut red chilli dry chutney

For starters we decided to go with steamed savoury modak filled with mushrooms cooked in milk. While the filling was creamy and full of flavour, the outer cover of the modak made with rice flour was made out of a press (not handmade), hence quite thick and kinda under cooked. This was served with a green coriander chutney and we also had the option of eating it with the red garlic powder or the green chilli thecha, as you can see from the picture above.

For the main course, we ordered a Paneer-Makai in hirwa rassa (Paneer & corn in green spinach-coriander gravy), Chaulicha usal (small black eyed peas sprouted and dry sauteed with spices and coconut) and Khamang Kakdi (read more below). From a choice of breads available, I chose the simple poli (a larger sized phulka made with whole wheat flour) and Sumanth had one each of the Jowar and Rice Bhakri. The rice bhakri came in by mistake instead of the jowar and he decided to try it anyway.

The sprouts usal as delicately flavoured and garnished generously with coconut. The lentils were cooked just right and not mushed up, each grain having its own identity and flavour.

The green gravy did not find much acceptance with me, may be it was great but somehow I did not love its flavours much. The paneer was soft and fresh in it though.

The Khamang Kakdi was the star of the evening. Well, how much can you expect from a simple cucumber salad anyway, right? But this one was rich in flavours in an unusual (for me) peanut-coconut dressing was the surprise of the evening. I fell so much in love with this diced cucumber salad, dressed in coconut, bit of yogurt, green chillies, curry leaves and peanut - tempered with potent hing (asafoeida), cumin and mustard seeds. And I can announce that I have already tried making it for our lunch, with the omission of peanuts as its out of stock at home. You can eat it as it is, or as a sandwich filling or with some masala rice. Stuff like this inspires quite some creativity. I'm going to be making this again and again and again. And I promise I shall posting a recipe of this one in the next few days. Let me stop gushing here.

They serve the rotis hot and fresh from steel casseroles. Sumanth downed some two glasses of Matha - plain and simple salted buttermilk along with the meal.

Remembering how much we had to run to burn a few hundred calories, we decided to give the desserts a skip. There were some special desserts from the Sravan Menu, sounded interesting but not tempting enough for us to break our resolve.

Except for the disappointment with the solkadhi and the modak covers being somewhat undercooked, the main course was a pleasure to eat. Having eaten quite some times in my Marathi friends' homes, I know that the tastes and flavours were authentic without adding the ubiquitous ginger-garlic paste and garam masala in everything.

Service was attentive and quick. But alas, there was a hair in one of the small bowls and the waiter without noticing continued to pour a gravy into it - resulting in wasting a whole portion of the gravy, realising only after I pointed it out to him. The restaurant was pretty crowded and bustling, mostly a Maharashtrian crowd as I understood.

I would like to point out that the damages indicated in the Times Food Guide 2007 are not at all accurate and the actual rates exclusive of desserts and alcohol is just about double that, with almost a 25% tax levied (this includes VAT plus service charges).

While the food was good, the ambience is too noisy and music a tad loud for our liking, it is surely worth a one time visit to sample authentic Maharashtrian food, both for the non-Marathi Bombayite and people visiting from around the country.

Please check out their menu on the website to know more about the chicken / meat / fish dishes served.

Ambience - 2.5/5
Service - 3.5/5
Food - 3.5/5
VFM- 3.5/5

Diva Maharashtracha
Marathi Cuisine Unlimited
Near Hinduja Hospital, Shivaji Park,
Tel- +91-22-24440202/0707
Website: http://www.divamarashtracha.com/

Useful Links:
-Check out some Malwani Recipes (coastal Maharashtra) here, including one for Sol Kadhi
- Malwani cuisine on Wiki

On the occasion of the super-flop movie - Ram Gopal Varma's Aag - here's an ad -spoofed from the original Sholay :

For more such superb viral ads, check out here.


Raaga said...

Doesn't look like the two of you're going there again... or will you be? but its good to note that the flavours are autehntic.

Nandita said...

Umm you read my mind Raaga...and there are so many to choose from...went to a new Italian place on Saturday..will post that soon, was waiting for my friend to send me all the names of dishes we ate (he copied them out from the bill)

Happy cook said...

Agree with raaga and nandita,
Waiting for Khamang .... recipe.

Jyothsna said...

After coming to Dubai, I've been to so many restaurants here, I'm wondering why I didn't do that in Bombay... There scene there seems to have changed a lot.

Anita said...

Paneer and authentic Maharashtrian?! LOL! I guess they gave in to the North there!

Anonymous said...

hi nandita,
love your blog and your write ups...i have been to goa portuguesa and culture curry ( not tried diva yet tho as it hadn't opened during my last visit to my hometown mumbai(mahim)..wud like to say that the food in the two outlets was good but thot there was an unnecessary hype abt the whole thing...what with so many celebrities thronging the place all the time !!??didn't u see any?? well of course u were one !! also agree abt the solkadi bit...even Goa P serve it extra thick..cud be coz of thick coconut cream ...


Swapna said...

This place falls on the way from my home in Mahim to the library. Alas,I didn't visit it during my recent India trip. I doubt if paneer is authentic Maharashtrian..ditto for Anita's thot:))Have not been to Goa Portugese coz I am a vegetarian. I doubt if I will get any veggie dishes there.
I know what u mean by falling in love with khamang kakdi. My mom used to make it often w/o the coconut.
The Sholay ad is hilarious. Thank God we didn't waste money in seing Aag..Did u?:)

Sig said...

You didn't like solkadhi? My Maharashtrian friend makes an amazing solkadhi... and it is not too thick, so I'm sure these guys screwed it up... that cucmber salad sounds amazing, glad u could recreate it at home...
I've been too busy lately... will catch up with u soon... hugs.

Radman said...

nice review. in future, would you consider posting the price per person and if that includes cocktails prior and wine with dinner? thanks

Anjali said...

Nandita all those three restraunts are for just the ambience for the true taste of maharashtra it has to be eateries in Dadar or Girgaon like Prakash, Aswad etc.

The Khamanga kakdi has to be with roasted peanuts that is what makes it Khamanga which means toasted. It is a must in Shravan in our home too.

I actually feel the recipes are adapted for the cosmopolitan culture. Whoever has heard of Paneer-Makai in hirwa rassa in marathi homes?

Yet I like their attitude in multiplying these restraunts beacause Mumbai does not have too many Marathi ones in the first place.

chikna said...

I read about this restaurant in delta airlines sky magazine. And since that time wanted to try it. So got a perfect opportunity to take my parents over there for dinner for their anniversary. And i have to say, i was pretty dissapointed. I am a hardcore maharashtrian living in US from the past 6 years. But everytime i come home, me and my dad go for a trip all around Maharashtra trying all the different varieties of maharashtrian food..We have been to nashik, satara, nagpur, ratnagiri and sindhudurg asking people where they can find authentic maharashtrian fare....and we found some amazing places...but Diva Maharashtrachawas nothing like that...i guess because of the upscale style of restaurant it is, this people try to complicate dishes...none of the dishes we ordered had any originality to it..The Tambda Rassa(Red Curry) had such a different profile. We even talked to the manager around and he was adament enough to tell us tht he is sure all this dishes are authentic..i thnk the only authentic thing in that place is the thecha, which is very easy to make. But looking at the amount of people that frequent that place, i guess i went the wrong day and the wrong time to eat..well in the future, i might give it another chance...

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