Gharghutti jevan – homemade food
That’s what he promised. My man Homi and me had scoped the place the day before. Asked the man what time we would get the mutton thaali the next day. He was taken aback by the question. But he told us the next day after 12:00 anytime. Added they opened up by 11:00. Then added best to make it by 14:00. Told him we would be there.
Next day 14:30 – wanna write, so we gave him more time, but truth is we were just late. Shucks! My head had that nagging fear – what if they’re out of mutton? I mean it’s a mutton thali at 200 bucks. Today, mutton is the new gold in regular meats – pricey. So if this guy offers me mutton thaali with proper Maharastrian Bhaakri, rasaa and mutton at 200, i’ll try it.
We are in luck. Not many people there. In fact, there’s more people preparing the stuff than customers! It’s a garage shop that’s converted into this fly in the wall hotel. 3 tables, long chairs on either sides of them, a makeshift kitchen counter, an old stuffed fridge, another table with a music system occupying unwanted space – a fight of stairs going who knows where and you have (hotel’s name).
Homi didn’t want to try anything heavy since he was travelling to another part of town – he ordered the andaa thaali and, as promised, I the mutton thaali. Then we waited. The fun began in a minute.
It was a homemade meal as promised – an entire family was making it. A man in his thirties, his wife, a 20-something girl, and the young man, in his 20’s, we had met yesterday. All four of them were at it – on the same counter that’s barely 10 feet in length! There were two gas stoves, one of them already had some meat being cooked on it. Chicken. From the angle that I sat, I could only see working hands – on the gas, rolling out bhakri, stirring the meat, handling pots. It was magic.
“Get me the food now – or else.”
It was the guy in the bandana, who had grumbled out of the blue. Looks like he had been waiting for some time. The young man pacified him signalling “one minute” – he wasn’t convinced. But he knew that if he left now, he was not getting such cheap prices or food any quicker anyways. He stayed.
That’s when the Uncle came in. He was well inti his 60’s – what a guy. He started, “So much has changed here”. They stared hard at him, when he again piped up, “Please don’t suggest anything, let me decide”. Well no one was able to or could interrupt him. After a detailed study of the menu that would make a PhD student proud, he questioned the main guy what type of bhurji do they served. “Dry,” the main man answered. The old man didn’t like that. “I used to come here a lot before. For the bhaakri. A lot has changed now,” The main man nodded – he clearly had no clue. He was talking to the old man, but one part of his mind was preoccupied with the bandana guy, who kept looking up from his mobile from time to time. Luckily his wife drained the contents of one cooker into a dish.
The bandana guy’s thaali and ours was ready. Wonder if he too ordered the same. I saw the contents – nope. Different meat – chicken. The old man settled for a rice plate – no bhaakri, no bhurji, nothing. We were served the thaali. The mutton was decent – neither tough nor rubbery. A little too pungent for my liking – but yeah the locals would love it – so am guessing local tastes win.
Homi left before me. I paid up – all of 300 for 2 meals – and felt good. Nothing extravagant, but good food – the bhaakri was the bonus. The mutton was okay and the rice – well, hmmn.
As I was leaving, the family was missing. I found them eating lunch at another table just outside the restaurant. The lady of the house was agitated about something, the young girl was busy eating, while the young man looked at me and nodded. My lips burned from the spice – but yeah for 200 bucks it was a feast.