Vegetarianism seems to be the flavour of the Indian food media right now.
First the BBC Good Food magazine turned vegetarian. Then Master Chef India struck a strident vegetarian note.
When it comes to vegetarian food places in Mumbai one immediately thinks of the Gujarati thali places and the Shetty-run Udipi South Indian dosa joints.
What often gets overlooked is the rich range of Maharashtrian vegetarian food on offer. And we are not just talking of vada pav and pav bhaji here.
The best place to try this genre out is in Marathi-dominated area of Dadar Shivaji Park.
Places like Mama Kane and Prakash here are heritage joints. Old-timers swear by the missal (served without pav) and piyush (a sweet drink) at Prakash and a table is always hard to score here.
Then there is Aaswad, a rare air-conditioned place in this genre. It was set up by its owner as a place where one can enjoy Maharashtrian vegetarian food in a hygienic and comfortable setting. You have to queue up to get in and might have to share a table with cramped seating. Rest assured that you will enjoy the Maharashtrian snacky delights on offer here. Do order the thali peeth, pohe, kothambir vade and sabudana vada. For mains it is difficult to beat the vadan bhaat toop (dal rice with ghee).
Gypsy Corner, in the lane opposite Aaswad, is popular with Maharashtrian families for its range of Marathi vegetarian main dishes on offer. Dishes here include Maharashtrian culinary heirlooms such as sadha varan bhaat toop, aluchi patal bhaji, jackfruit bhaji, tikhat mithache sanza, dadpe pohe, pohe with poha papad, khapoli styled vada pao and fasting food such as sabudana khichdi, shingdana sheera and wadi with aamti.
For a taste of sweet do go to Panshikar and try the array of pedas there. The shrikhand peda is a particular delight.
Kalyan Karmakar authors the popular award winning blog, Finely Chopped and is an authority on the food of Mumbai. His extensive knowledge of the city's food scene has been featured in publications such as Femina, Mumbai Mirror and BCC Good Food. He was one of the founding critics of EazyDiner's Mumbai team.
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