Wednesday, April 11, 2007


When Vivek Prabhu’s grandfather opened Sardar (named after a title which was conferred on his father) in 1932 in the heart of Girangaon to cater to the mill workers little did he know that the fabric of the area would change 75 years later and the mills would be replaced by corporate parks and high rise residential buildings. However painful it might have been Sardar had to keep up to the changing times and adapt to become what Vivek calls a true Bombay restaurant.

Sardar (not to be confused with the Tardeo Pav Bhaji serving namesake) is located at the junction of the Kala Chowki signal near the Voltas building on the main Babasaheb Ambedkar Road at Lalbaug. It is a simple, no frills moderately priced place and is open from 6 am to 9 .30 pm. Like all old restaurants, they too opened a mezzanine section for ladies and family in the sixties.

They have some very good Maharashtrian dishes on their menu. Try the vangi bhajiya (brinjal pakoras), kanda and batata bhajiya, masale bhat, alu (colo leaves) wadi, kothambir wadi, batata wada, sukha usal, batata poha, sheera, bhatsal (a mixture of batata wada and misal) and ofcourse misal. Vivek boasts that he serves the best misal in town. His misal still follows the recipe handed down by his grandfather and its masala consists of a concoction of more than eighteen freshly ground spices, dals and an ingredient that no one else adds to their misal… onion bhajiya that is fried, ground and added to the masala which lends the misal its unique and different flavor.

Modern culinary tastes of executives from neighbouring corporates like Voltas, P.N. Writer, Khandelwal Laboratories, A. C. Nielsen and Tata Tele Services and NGO's like Akanksha who started frequenting Sardar during lunch time compelled Vivek, a chartered accountant by profession to innovate his largely traditional Maharashtrian menu to a broader one. He introduced a range of ‘garlic’ dishes like various Dosa variants with Garlic such as Garlic Sada and Masala and Garlic Rava Sada and Masala. He also introduced Chaats and bread based items like Burgers and Sandwiches. Try the cheese and garlic grilled sandwich named ‘Sania’ and the cheese garlic baked bread named Navin. Their tossed American corn with butter and garlic is also a favorite.

They keep pretty busy during lunch time and sometimes you might have to wait to get a place. Their lunch time mini meals are light and complete. At Rs 25 you will get three chapatis, unlimited dal, one vegetable and chaas. They also have various sabzi’s on the menu. Their just launched next door take-away outlet “Viva Kitchen” will also serve you Oriental and Punjabi cuisine.

Upwas snacks are popular on fasting days and you can have Sabudana wada. Sabudana khichadi, Rajgira Puri Bhaji, Upwas Kachori and Upwas Misal.

You can also beat the heat with the range of fruit juices, faloodas,milk shakes, lassis,chilled fruit milk kokam sharbat, and limbu pani. Vivek will impress upon you to spend only Rs 17 on a similar but more concentrated Iced Tea you would get elsewhere for Rs 50.

Today, Sardar may not get any mill clientele for obvious reasons other than the retired mill hands that still drop in for a misal of nostalgia. But it has still managed to retain the principle of serving food from the heart. You will notice it when you see Vivek wander around chatting with his clientele who he knows on a first name basis. He says “we do not have any customers, only well-wishers”.


Arpan said...

Bahut badhiya Abodh bhai. Accho do write about Kyani's. You introduced me to it and now each time I am in B'bay, I make it a point to visit it. Also perhaps about that south Indian place where we had to con Pradeep into coming.

Abodh said...

Yes Arpan ... both of them are on my list and conning Pradeep again ever is tough. Will do a piece on Pradeep too.

sonali said...

Sonali says
The write-up on Sardar restuarant in Mumbai was mouth watering.
It is truly an amazing place. The misal is to die for!!! I can't wait to go there on my next visit to Mumbai!!!!