Taste Test: Dal Pakwan
A popular Sunday morning fixture at most Sindhi households, dal pakwan is made up of simple cumin, chilli and coriander flavoured chana dal and crisp, deep-fried maida pakwans, a kind of flatbread that is slightly thinner than a puri. We sampled the dish at four establishments across the city to find out who makes the freshest, most filling dal pakwan in Mumbai:
Shop No.17, C. G. Road, Chembur Camp, Chembur (East). Tel: 022 2553 1032.
This 62-year-old restaurant is located smack in the centre of a Sindhi neighbourhood in Chembur East. They serve the breakfast staple until 2pm, by which time the pakwans, which are prepared in the morning, become hard. We got there at noon and were served a piping hot bowl of the most non-traditional dal among the four we tried. As opposed to just chana dal, theirs was an interesting combination of moong and chana dal to which they added a spoonful of achaar and a spicy aloo gravy. The dal was heaped with finely sliced onions, which lent a desirable sharpness to the dish. By noon sadly, Vig’s pakwans had crossed over to dentally vexing territory. ★★☆☆☆
Luis Belle Building, corner of 16th Road and 30th Road, opposite Shiv Sagar, Pali Naka, Bandra (West). Tel: 022 2648 0080. See here for more locations.
The only complaint we had with the chain’s excellent dal pakwan, which is available throughout the day, was that their deliciously flaky pakwan (like a khari biscuit in texture but thicker) disintegrated too quickly thus leaving us with pakwan crumbs rather than solid pieces to dip into the dal. If you like a bit of spice, we recommend pouring their mint and green chilli chutney over the simple, cumin-flecked dal. ★★★★☆
Guru Kripa Building, Road No.24, Sion (West). Tel: 022 2407 1237.
If we were picking winners for just the best pakwan, Sion’s popular chaat house Guru Kripa would score a 5 out of 5 for their fresh-out-of-the fryer and audibly crisp pakwans, which are neither too thick nor too thin. The shortcoming was in the dal, which was a tad bland and accompanied by a tamarind chutney that was more sweet than tangy. The Sindhi delicacy is a bestseller, even though it’s only available between 8am and 9am daily. ★★★☆☆
THARU’S MUKHI BHANDAR WINNER
Shops No.7 and 8, Madhuban Building, opposite Canara Bank, P. D. Hinduja Marg, Khar. Tel: 022 2646 2882.
Expect to jostle through a ravenous crowd that is there for the same reason you are, the mithai shop’s freshly-made dal pakwan. To the owners of Tharu’s Mukhi Bhandar, dal pakwan is a dish worthy of Sundays, which is the only day they sell it, from 8am until stocks last. The key ingredient in their rich and flavourful dal pakwan is pure ghee, which is used to fry the pakwan, as well as to cook the dal. The perfect way to eat it is to spoon the red chilli powder and cumin-seasoned dal over the thick but easy-to-snap pakwan. Generously drizzle their tamarind chutney over each crispy bite for a deliciously tangy flavour. ★★★★1/2