Sadashiv Peth is a quarter in the old city, which was, and still is, the heartland of the Pune blue-eyed Brahmin. Govitrikars, Paranjpes and Agashes abound here. Keepers of the keys to knowledge, education, and information. Traditionally staunch vegetarians, meat would be anathema in their homes.
Non Veg is a euphemism for many unappetising things in India. You can let your imagination go wild here.
So when ye olde Punekar goes out for a hearty meal of mutton or chicken a la Kolhapur, where do you think he heads? Why, Sadashiv Peth, naturally.
As I walked down the street looking out for one of the famed Kolhapuri restaurants, a shady gentleman beckoned to me as if he was about to offer me some hashish or stronger stuff, and, as I approached rather nervously, said in an undertone,"You want to eat non-hvej ?" I almost burst out laughing in relief.
As it happens, the place which he pointed out to me was next door and, belying the small and dark entrance, had a pleasant garden in the back with about ten tables set out under the lemon trees and flowering bushes. The garden was dominated by a tall date palm and ten waiters with little to do. A couple of tables were taken and with the sun overhead we had to find a shady spot.
The menu was in Marathi, and they offered thali meals, a 'Plate System', and single dishes. The thali came in two types: sorted by ingredient (Chicken and Mutton), by amount (Unlimited and Limited), and by degree of heat generated (Masala and Fry).
Do NOT let any misguided hungry soul order the unlimited, "eat till you drop" type of thali. Some people take this as a challenge which it is not meant to be. After an Unlimited thali the afternoon is shot to pieces. You can do nothing but lie down, flake out and recall that old Noel Coward saying with deep understanding : "Only mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the mid-day sun".
Ignoring other delicacies such as country chicken, which is free range (and tough as leather), or pomfret and surmai (king fish) fry, which is excellent, we ordered a limited mutton masala thali and chicken masala thali.
Now, when they say Non-veg, they really mean it. Nothing vegetarian about it except for a few chopped raw onions.
Every vati (bowl) was filled with a meaty something. This is food for those souls who are suffering from real non-veg withdrawal symptoms. 1 Mutton masala plate, 1 kheema vati,1 pandra rasa( a white mutton curry) and 1 tambda rasa( a red mutton curry), 3 wheat chapathis or 2 bhakri, 1 plate of rice. Ditto on the the chicken thali.
Though authentic kolhapuri cuisine, we did not find it as chilli hot as Kolhapuri food is famed for, but then we all eat a lot of chillies, both red and green. Be warned, it might be hair-raising for others less used to chillies in their food.
The place was clean and the service prompt.It was a nice relaxing place to eat in , quite quiet considering it was in the middle of the city.
The prices were laudable. Just cannot figure out how they manage to produce such good food for so little.Everyone I have told about it is planning a visit ...real soon.
from Rs 40-Rs 90 per person.
Sugrans Dining House,
2293, A Sadashiv Peth, Shedge Vadi,
For super Kolhapuri Mutton recipe click here.