|Punjabi Moti Halwai Karachiwala|
Chances are that Punjabi Moti Halwai Karachiwala has not made it to any of the recent 'where to eat in Mumbai' lists. Not that this piece of news would bother its many loyal customers who throng this restaurant located in Fort, the original CBD of Mumbai.
You might be a bit hard pressed to find a table at this rather spartan though spacious eatery at lunchtime on weekdays, but you are guaranteed to be engulfed by a sense of serenity when you walk in. The place is not air-conditioned but its high ceilings and thick walls ensure that it is always pleasant inside, even when the sun is at its fiercest. You might see many lawyers standing outside the shop, chatting with each other at lunch time. They work in the legal offices nearby and come here to cool down over a refreshing glass of thick lassi. If they have won a case, then they might even ask for a special lassi which comes topped with a layers of malai (clotted cream) and dry fruits.
The restaurant is a vegetarian one and at lunch time thalis loaded with soulful Punjabi food go whizzing from the kitchen to the many tables at the restaurant. Carried by waiters who have done this with practised ease for decades.
My top picks apart from the 'elixir of life' lassi here would be the freshly fried samosa with channa, the very home-like channa bhatoora and the Sindhi breakfast delight of dal pakwan.
If you spot a bespectacled avuncular gentleman with a genial smile, then go and say hi to him. It is most likely to be the second generation owner of the place, Mr Sunil Saigal. The eatery was set up by his forefathers who had come to Mumbai from Karachi after the partition. "They had lost everything," Mr Saigal once told me with not a touch of rancour. "The city has been kind to us and we have been able to rebuild our lives. We have nothing to complain."
You will find this compassionate spirit reflected in the simple and yet unforgettable taste of the food here. That is legacy left behind by the man known as Moti Halwai after the sweetshop that he had started in his adopted home of Mumbai.
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Address: Cawasji Patel Rd, Kala Ghoda, Fort, Mumbai, Maharashtra 400001
Opposite Yazdani Bakery