Ten-Second Takeaway

One of Mumbai’s legendary rivalries revolves around two humble yet deliciously popular eateries in Shivaji Park – Aaswad and Prakash. After taking a look at Aaswad, we took a critical look at the misal at Prakash.

Chow Down

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If Bala Saheb’s mural on Shiv Sena Bhavan points directly to the entrance of Aaswad, then Prakash stands diligently by his right side. The line at this eatery is equally long on a Sunday afternoon. The only difference is that you know exactly when a table goes vacant, because unlike Aaswad, there are no air-conditioned walls or VIP partitions closing the establishment. Prakash is a simple, canteen style establishment that’s all about the eating.

Of course we began our lunch with a round of misal. Notice how there’s no mention of the word pav anywhere? That’s because Prakash doesn’t serve them.

29092016_misalprakash01_adThat’s only one of the things that makes their misal deliciously different than Aaswad’s. The biggest difference is spicing. Prakash’s misal has heat {in the garam masala sense, not chilli} that hits you right away. The darker garam masala notes make for far punchier eating, soothed only by the freshness of raw kanda and gravy-soaked potatoes. If you’re a fan of chatpata, this misal is not for you. But, if you like sweating it out occasionally {a bit like when you eat a great Saoji mutton or Kerala beef fry}, then go ahead and order a repeat.

We instead dug into the thalipeeth, batata vadas {sans the pav and signature garlic chutney} and dalambi usal-puri, all accompanied with generous amounts of their signature buttery-white groundnut chutney. The vadas were a pleasant surprise, as without the pav, one really enjoys the wafer-thin crunch of the crispy batter that gives way to reveal a fluffy and gingery potato mix. The usal too is deliciously earthy and perfectly balanced by the greener, sweeter notes of the beans. Unfortunately, our thalipeeth felt a bit overcooked and dried out.

Sip On

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Last but not the least, special mention must go out to Prakash’s beverages and dessert. Most regulars love the piyush, their silken and more liquid version of Shrikhand. But our favourite was the kokam sharbat. Jarringly tart yet deliciously sweet, this was accompanied by just the perfect hint of jeera. For people with even bolder tastes, the solkadhi and amla sharbat are also delightfully refreshing. End your meal with the crème de la creamiest of shrikhands and basundi.

So, We’re Saying…

Ultimately, which misal did we prefer? That’s a tough call as even though the Prakash misal has a punchier masala finish, both dishes have their strengths. But chances are we’ll probably frequent Prakash more, simply because everything else {except the thalipeeth} was equally satisfying, and their drinks just knock that meal straight out of Shivaji Park.

Photos: Aman Deshmukh/LBB