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Clever concoction in Kolkata’s Mumbai Local

WHEN I heard that a very Mumbaiya place had opened up in the southern parts of Kolkata, and that it was called Mumbai Local, the fact that it offered purely vegetarian fare did not put me off at all, though I am a hardcore non-vegetarian Bengali.

The minute you step in, what catches you is the air of openness because of the glass ceiling at the top of the joint that opens the sky for you. At ground level, the colourful walls are choc-a-bloc with phrases and famous one-liners picked from popular Hindi films. Examples are aplenty: vaat lag gayee (I am finished), Load nahin lene ka (Don’t be stressed), shendi mat lagaa (Don’t try to fool me), waanda ho gaya (Oh, this is too much), Fultoo tight (fully sloshed) and many more. The music is kept low-key so that the Y-generation that crowds this place all the time, can keep their chatter going. The songs are from Hindi film hits, old and new that carry nostalgia along with entertainment.

One section of the wall is painted to look like the platform of a Mumbai local train again, with lovely slogans and one that catches my eye is — Darr Ke Aage Jeet Hai, Dadar Ke Aage Seat Hai which is hilarious for those who know that Dadar is the most middle-class and cosmopolitan location in the city and the first sentence is borrowed from an ad while the second one is a clever concoction of words put together to mean undiluted fun. One section of the ceiling has a long bar with strap handles hanging for ‘passengers’ to hold on to while the imaginary train moves. “Loo” outside the washroom spelt out in Hindi script while when you are inside, you cannot avoid the writing on the wall that goes, “If there is a fire, don’t wait for a selfie.”

The menu is very interestingly curated and each dish is named after a famous Mumbai joint or area, adding to the colloquial touch. The way the dishes are served is a treat as it teaches one about the aesthetics of food décor. The Dhobi Ghat Chana Bhatura, for example, is served on a wooden square piece covered with grass. Above this, is a tiny clothesline that has puris/bhaturas hanging from tiny clothes-pegs. The chana is served in a small, brass saucepan while a tiny, aluminum bucket is used for the small helpings of pickled onions and tomatoes for salad.

Dedh Phootiya Aloo is baby potatoes grilled over a charcoal fire and served to tantalise your taste-buds brought to the table on a one-and-a-half foot skewer. Khao Gali Dosa is dosa smeared with truffle oil and cheese, served with mushroom truffle sauce. The tastes of the dishes are typically Mumbaiyya with touches of green coriander and chutneys which make all the difference between other regional street food items and the Mumbaiya items.

The founder-owner of this wonderful eating joint is Harsh Sonthalia and his decision to open a food place that specialises in Mumbaiya fare including improvised traditional Parsi dishes like Rustom’s Dhansak, served in a vegetarian variation. But once you have taken a bite, you want to lick your fingers and do not care if anyone is watching. Dhansak is served here in a little dabba with fried okra as a side dish.

Let us not forget the drinks — the way they are concocted, named and served and I do not think it has competition anywhere in the city. Raapchik Raspberry is soda flavoured with raspberry and served in a Banta bottle; Chowpatty Gola, a childhood memory taboo to small kids by their worried mothers, is made up of crushed ice topped with diverse choices.

Then there are the desserts, especially Madh Island which is the name of a famous Mumbai beach considered dangerous for swimmers. Madh Island is a chocolate garden where you can lose yourself forever and throw your calorie count right out of the small and sweet entrance of Mumbai Local.

So, get on that local train to wait till Dadar because you will get a seat afterwards.

—The Statesman / India

courtesy : dawn news

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