Driving through the madness of Fergusson College Road, where half the road is taken up by parked cars and two wheelers, I caught sight of a little restaurant, behind the temple that has been built plumb on the corner of F.C. road and Ghole Road.It was two in the afternoon and we were starving.The best time to tackle a thali meal.
Cutting across the road in time honoured Poona fashion, through the intertwining traffic made up of vehicles of all shapes and sizes, we found a place to park. What an achievement. Worthy of self congratulation.This was done loudly and with great satisfaction. Lunch loomed appetizingly large on the horizon.
Drenched in perspiration,( with the high humidity levels one swims through the day) we made our way to Shabree.
I like the name so here is the story behind it-Shabree was a tribal devotee of Rama who waited her entire life to meet him. Everyday she picks fruits from the forest and waits for him. Year after year, when all have abandoned the ashram, Shabree waits for Ram to grace her with his presence. When he finally comes , she is old and blind, but still full of devotion . She feeds him berries picked that morning and tasted by her in case they prove to be bitter. Ram eats the berries and by doing so blesses her as a true "Bhakt". (one who reaches God through unwavering love)
It was a quiet day for them or we were very late. In any case, attention was showered upon us by a group of waiters, all dressed like the Peshwa's. There is no menu as they only serve a Maharashtrian thali meal here , with typical Pune cooking. It is an 'unlimited' thali and the sweet is included in the price of the meal on Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays.
We got a typical toor dal / lentil soup made with kala masala, a kadhi / yogurt based soup, a matki usal, / a vegetable curry made with sprouts, palak paneer / spinach and cottage cheese, beetroot raita beetroot in yogurt, Pitle bhaji / a dish made of gram flour with onions and other spices, alu bhaji , kothimbir vadi's /deep fried coriander and gram flour slices , alu pakora / potato dipped in gram flour and fried, a katori of dahi / a small bowl of curd AND 3 types of chapathies PLUS 2 types of rice . I forgot to give a mention to the choice of four pickles.
The matki usal was very chilli hot which led to another outbreak of perspiration, but the rest were a mix of tastes, slightly sweet (kadhi and raita) and slightly spicy.Home cooked pitle and matki is somehat different but what they served was a good approximation.The dal and kadhi were very authentically Pune.
We loved the bhakri/flat breads, one made of jowar and the other made of bajra. The wheat chapathies just about melted in the mouth. The result of eating all the chapathies made it impossible to even taste the masala rice. We were stuffed to the gills.
On the whole a very filling experience..the food was produced the moment we sat down, with no waiting at all. And it kept coming till we had to throw up our hands in weak protest.
Do not plan on eating for the next 24 hours.
1199/1A F.C. Road
Thali meals- Rs 70-80( $1.75-$2) per person.