Mumbai’s oldest dining institutions are treated with reverence. There are eateries famed for either mastering a type of cuisine {think Gajalee or Aaswad} or a particular dish {strawberry and cream at Bacchelorr’s}. But over time many of these icons tend to become all about the hype and less about the eating.

Keeping this in mind, every month, we’ll visit a few of these eateries to sample the greatest hits as well as some of their newer fare to save you a trip, or urge you to make one.

Swati Snacks: Why The Hype?

Photo: Athul Prasad/LBB

Photo: Athul Prasad/LBB

The Tardeo outpost of Swati Snacks {SS} is probably the one place that makes everyone’s {carnivore or herbivore} must-eat list in Mumbai, and as legend goes we might even bump into Mukesh Ambani and family on Sunday mornings.

The second reason for the hype is their jalebis. Yes, they’re good, but we’ve eaten jalebis from Chandi Chowk’s Old and Famous Jalebiwala, so we don’t really take well to a downgrade, even if it’s a minor one.

On First Glance

Swati Snacks is both comfortable and disinterested in frills. A canteen-style dining room which also features air-conditioning, clean loos, stainless steel table tops and wooden benches. One thing that immediately lives up to the hype – a long line outside, which keeps us waiting for twenty minutes.

Hype-Worthy: The Sliding Panki

Photo: Athul Prasad/LBB

Photo: Athul Prasad/LBB

First on the ‘must-have’ list is panki and suva panki, the pancake-like preparation that’s pressed between two pieces of banana and grilled on a tawa.

It’s said the mark of a good panki is one that easily slides off the banana leaf in one piece. The SS Panki didn’t disappoint at all in that regard. Equally crucial to a good Panki are the condiments. The SS green chutney and chilli pickle live up to this marker as well.

Hype-Wasting: The Over-Spiced Khichdi

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Photo: Athul Prasad/LBB

Next up is a round of fada-ni-khichdi {made of bulgur wheat, moong dal and vegetables}, satpadi roti { a traditional Gujarati Roti made with seven grains and spices}, and gatta-nu-shak {besan dumplings in a yogurt-based curry}, as well as the seasonal undhiyo {mixed vegetables} and roti. All of these were underwhelming.

The khichdi was over-spiced with a garam masala mix that was harsh and unbalanced, almost akin to a generic Kitchen King masala.

The gatta was on the spicier side and the rotis a bit thick and doughy. As for the undhiyo, usually a rich and indulgent winter preparation {bizarrely in season all-year round at SS} was so bland and flavourless, we wondered if they were using frozen veggies.

Ending On A Sweet Note

Photo: Athul Prasad/LBB

Photo: Athul Prasad/LBB

It helped that they make a great pudina chhaas and nimbu paani to help you wash down the disappointment. It helped even more that their malai malpoa {thin, crepe-like malpoa rolls stuffed with silky and luxurious rabdi} was exceptional.

Yay or Nay?

A bit of both. We’ve eaten better undhiyo in the gallis of Kalbadevi, and the gatta and khichdi are definitely better at Soam. But that being said, would we go back? Definitely, mainly because it’s still one of the most convenient and comfortable ways to sample some of Gujarat’s greatest culinary hits in Mumbai.

Cost: INR 175 upwards

Featured photo: Parikshit Rao