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Restaurateurs in Mumbai are sporting a glum face these days. Specially those who run non-vegetarian places. From hip burger joints in Bandra to traditional Malvani joints in Dadar, they are all seeing a decrease in footfall.
This is an annual phenomenon. It is the month of Shravan after all.
For many Hindu communities across the country, be it UP in the North, Goa and Gujarat in the West or Mangalore in the South, Shravan is the time for a spiritual detox or cleansing.
Mumbai has representations from all these communities and the local Maharashtrian community observes Shravan too.
One of the key tenets of Shravan is abstinence. Non-vegetarians turn vegetarian. Vegetarians restrict the amount of produce used and avoid onion and garlic. Alcohol is eschewed too.
All of which affects restaurant sales as people cut down on eating out, especially of non-vegetarian food.
This is a good time to explore Maharashtrian vegetarian food options in Mumbai.
Dadar offers a range of popular eateries such as Aaswad (the only air-conditioned one of the lot), Prakash and Gypsy Corner. Then you have Vinay Health Home in Girgaon. I am pretty fond of the variety of snacks here such as the missal, thalipeeth, sabudana vada and kothimbir vadi. The mains in these restaurants tend to be a bit heavy on masala and (occasionally) coconut.
One good option for trying out a Maharashtrian Shravan meal is to head to Vashi. One of the city’s earliest food bloggers, Saee Koranne Khandekar, has curated a Mejwani Thali or vegetarian Maharashtrian meal at the Four Points by Sheraton hotel here.
The food in the thali is pretty light on spices and you can get the individual taste of the dishes, some of which are heritage recipes such as the kheer made with hand rolled pasta.
If Saee is around, she will explain the science of eating the meal to you. You start with a light salad and pickle, then move on to the bhajiyas (fritters), then have the puris with sabzis made with items such as potatoes, colocasia leaves and beans and then move on to rice (masala bhaat) with saar (soup) and end with the desserts.
The festival at Four Points is on till 15th September and only at nights. The thali costs Rs. 375 plus taxes.
Follow him @ Finelychopped
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.