Have you ever had a craving? That too, at an odd hour or when you are feeling sleepy? Most of us will waste hours thinking what to eat and then eventually have something nonsensical like chips, maggie, biscuits or perhaps a glass of milk and go back to sleep. But what if this request comes from your spouse, and what if she’s the adamant types? Then there is nothing you can do and you simply have to accept your fate. Imagine yourself, idly sitting and watching the Sunday evening IPL match. Only 10 crucial overs left to decide the winner and you’ve waited since morning to watch this match. Then suddenly your wife gets up and looks at you with a sorry face and tells you ‘I am hungry and I want to eat Missal pav’. Its 11.00 pm in the night? Who the hell would be selling Missal Pav that late in Mumbai? There is no logic with matter of the heart and sometime even with the matter of your salivary glands.
For a few women like my wife, if they want something, they have to get it and you better get it for them otherwise you’d just waste hours dilly dallying the whole matter and when you least expect it, it’ll come back again to haunt you that too at an odd hour. She could have mentioned earlier but no, weekend evening time is for mundane tasks, killing time on the tablet, socializing on facebook, uploading pictures and writing silly comments on the walls of unimportant people. Prima facie you are perplexed about how to react to such a demand? Whatever you say or do, can or will be used again you for the rest of your life. Sorry, it will definitely be used against you for the rest of your married life. The lazy Sunday evening which was otherwise, about to end in half hour, had just begun and in the next instant I was wide and awake; torturing my brain about 100 reasons why it is such a bad idea. She too knows it’s a bad idea. But when a women’s gotta eat, she’s gotta eat dude or else she’ll chew your brains out. So I began cracking quickly, putting the pants on the boxers, combed my unruly hair and was ready in two seconds. We had to move fast before the last eatery in my neighbourhood pulled down shutters
Missal Pav is a Maharashtrian dish, best served when it is fresh, hot and spicy. We started our adventurous patrolling pure vegetarian restaurants and a few Udipi’s, close to our house in Andheri West and then to Lokhandwala. After about 25 minutes of cruising on the empty streets, my wife had given up on the idea and was ready to settle for anything that is extra spicy and in the category of fast food. Around that time we had already reached Goregaon and decided to give one last try and drive towards the S.V road, since there are quite of few restaurants around the station area.
So we took a right turn from the Bangurnagar signal and while I was driving through the narrow lane that lead to the station, I suddenly noticed, crowd waiting outside of a restaurant – ‘Shabri’. This one seemed like a simple, traditional and economical Udipi restaurant, presumable serving some awesome food, coz people waited patiently on a Sunday late evening for their turn. I parked our car, and decided to scrutinize the place and to try our luck. I was greeted by the sumptuous smell of the tasty dishes; Pav Bhaji’s. sambhar’s, cheese grill sandwiches, oozing out and making me feel even more hungry. I walked up to the waiter in-charge of assigning tables to the waiting patrons. To my surprise when I asked him if they have Missal Pav, he said yes. I couldn’t believe my ears so I asked again specifying that ‘will I get at this hour’. To that he said ‘yes’ again I was almost jubilant. But we were asked to wait for 10 mintues.
During those 10 minutes waiting outside the restaurant, right next to the Pav Bhaji stall, I and my wife couldn’t stop drooling over the Pav Bhaji. The aroma was that of a yummy, spicy – ‘bhaji’ and top it all, the fresh coriander garnished over it and the melting butter made that dish to die for. And then, we decided that we’d have one Pav Bhaji too after Misal. Soon we got our chance to sit, since we were only two, they made us sit right at the entrance table, which had only two seats. Even though I had confirmed twice before entering, I still squeamishly asked the serving waiter again ‘will I get Missal at this time’, he said ‘yes’ again. We ordered for one plate first, and had decided to order Pav Bhaji later, coz we won’t be able to do just to both of them together. The fun was eating both these dishes when they are super hot.
When I got up to wash my hands, I noticed a waiter bringing out two thali’s for some other customer and it looked delicious, but sadly I wasn’t that hungry. Maybe next time I’ll try the thali here. After about 5 minutes our Missal arrived in a small steel ‘katori’ kind of bowl and honestly the quantity seemed a little disappointing. The waiter was smart to notice our shattered hopes, and gently moved forward to pour the gravy out on the plate. Now it didn’t seem that less, but the essence of the Missal is in the watery gravy. Only when you dip the pav in that, you’d get a taste of spicy masala’s. So we asked for more of the gravy. Seconds later he appeared with the extra watery gravy. It was a well prepared dish, but not freshly made. They must’ve made it in the morning and now they just heated it slightly before serving it to us. And that’s the reason the gravy had dried a little. But then again, we were the fools asking for the wrong kind of food at the wrong hour.
We had made a wise decision, ordering Pav Bhaji later, for it was indeed one of the best Pav Bhaji;s we had eaten and trust me we have eaten a lot of Pav Bhaji’s at different locations during different time zones. I was impressed with the food and the service and would definitely be visiting again to try the other dishes but the only problem was it shuts too early in the night.
I presume there are a lot of people out there, looking for a late evening taste quenchers. I know you’re thinking; I would never need to run out and search for a place like this or my spouse would never ask me to do something like this. But what if you have to? And ‘What if’ is a very dangerous feeling, my friend but at the same time is also the germ of an idea, an opportunity waiting to be tapped upon. Think about it and keep a look out for your immediate eating abodes in the neighbourhood. Till then…keep it simple…keep it stupid!