Eating Out at Panchavati Gaurav

It’s back!!! The restaurant that defined the ‘thali’ experience for me is back and now when an irrationally insatiable appetite shows up in my stomach, I don’t have to traverse halfway across the city to satisfy it.

Panchavati Gaurav, the thali restaurant that occupied a corner opposite Bombay Hospital is now up and running after an ‘open-today-shut-tomorrow’ experience. Hopefully, for good this time.

Be warned – this is not a place for people with bird-like appetites. You are encouraged, sometimes coerced into eating what normally accounts for three full meals at one sitting and it is only once you’re done, and you can’t quite get out of your chair, that you realise the enormity of what you’ve just eaten.

This was our meal last night:
– 2 types of farsan (snacks)
– 4 types of vegetables – bhindi (okra), mattar paneer (cottage cheese with veggies in an awesomely garlicky gravy), Moong dal (lentils in a thick spicy gravy) and Aloo Shaak (potato in thin gravy).
Gujarati kadhi (it’s sweeter than the other north Indian versions)
– Sweet dal
– Spicy dal
– 1 Bengali Malai Sweet (it’s the first thing that lands on your plate)
– Strawberry Shrikhand (it was actually just a thicker version of strawberry yoghurt with huge chunks of fruit in it. Yum!)
– 4 chapattis + 1 mini puranpoli
– 1 serving of khichdi, with generous helpings of ghee.

As if that weren’t enough, it must be mentioned here that every dish on the plate was unlimited.

When I was a child, eating at Panchavati Gaurav was a very important part of the Sunday ritual – outing, movie and then dinner. When it shut down, the only other thali option was Rajdhaani at Opera House, which has also shut down. Now, if you want a Rajdhaani meal, you have to go into a mall. Pfft (even though it’s the uber-swanky Palladium, it still doesn’t feel right, somehow).

The manager told us the place had been closed for renovation, but a glance at the place told us that wasn’t really the case. The furniture and decor has stayed the same, including the peeling paint. Fortunately, food and service have stayed the same too. The thali was as delicious as I remember. Panchavati Gaurav was the first place where I ate Gatte ki Sabji, a Rajasthani preparation. Gatta is nothing but small balls of dough made from chick pea flour. This simple ingredient is amazingly vertile and fits into anything from a dry preparation to kadhi.

I really regret not having a better mobile phone camera, or there would have been pictures of the ‘How clean was my thali’ version. And yes, like I said earlier, don’t head to this place if you have a small appetite. It’s a place that demands you do justice to the food that is set before you (and you’ll have a mighty good time doing so). To prepare yourself for the dinner, you may also want to try eating light 24 hours before the actual meal. It’s a marathon, you see, of a very different kind.

Panchavati Gaurav

7, Chernox House, Opp. Bombay Hospital, Marine Lines, Mumbai.
Tel: 22084877.
A full, unlimited thali costs Rs. 320 and there are other options available as well.

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