#ChaiPakodaDay: Discovering Mumbai One Pakoda At A Time

Always upbeat about celebrating the international food observance days, it was high time someone took charge and lead the way to celebrate the diversity of Indian cuisine, and who better than Rushina Munshaw Ghildiyal, a food expert who has committed herself to revive the Indian regional cuisine and give it the place it deserves in the hearts of our people. So after a successful ‘aam achaar day’, ‘papad-badi day’, ‘masala day’ and ‘pulao biryani day’, it was time for the much awaited monsoon favourite ‘chai pakoda day.’

Rushina and I (Vernika Awal), at Sodabottleopenerwaala

Rushina called me up and suggested that we collaborate for this day and she invited ideas from my end to promote this and to make it a national level success through social media. So after much brainstorming we mutually decided that a visual medium along with a personal touch is what we needed to ensure an emotional touch that connects with every Indian and their much dear ‘chai ka cup.’ That is when I called up Tiyash Sen, a friend, an exceptionally talented independent filmmaker and the founder of The Pressured Cooker – his food blog. Tiyash walked in with his brilliant ideas and and within a day the teaser for the first ever #ChaiPakodaDay was born, and well, it went viral.

Watch it here:


On #ChaiPakodaDay i.e 30th July, we had planned a food crawl across Mumbai to discover and talk about those delicacies in detail through our social media handles. Thankfully the weather on that day was just perfect with the rain gods being kind to us.

We began our crawl from Sodabottleopenerwaala in Powai where they had a spread of eight different types of pakoras from different communities laid out for us accompanied with hot tea (again, 3 types!). They had been very sporting in celebrating this day and had roped in eight home-chefs to curate their family recipes and showcase those in their outlets across Mumbai. From Saee Khandekar’s methi and banana bhajji, Saher Khanzada’s kaavil che polae, Rushina’s dakor na gota, Anushruti RK’s Mangalorean goli baje to Saumitra Velkar’s Pathare Prabhu classic pangoji, they had it all and had perfected their recipes. We were informed that these have been selling like hot cakes in their outlets, so in case you still wish to taste these, then you know where to head!

The tea-based cocktails at JW Lounge of JW Sahar

From here we proceeded to JW Marriott Mumbai Sahar where Akash Kapadi, the bartender at JW Lounge gave us an insight into the tea-based cocktails that they serve there. Now being teetotaler I couldn’t taste these but Rushina swore by those and in Rushina we trust!

With Shital Kakad at the potluck

The thing that was followed by our second stop was the one we had all eagerly been looking forward to. Thirteen home-chefs and food bloggers had gathered at home-chef Shital Kakad‘s place for a potluck where they all had prepared pakodas from their region. This initiative by them was the biggest validation we could’ve received for our efforts where on a Sunday people prepared food and actively participated in ensuring that this effort was a success. We tasted pakodas from Assam, Bengal, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Jammu and Kashmir, Karnataka and even some schezwan pakodas!

The pakodas by home-chefs at the potluck


From there we proceeded to Laadu Samraat in Parel, an iconic farsaan shop in Mumbai. In the humid and sultry Mumbai weather we qued up with the people to grab hold of some of the hot selling kothambir vadis and batata vadas. We also had a juice called sikander juice , which had me and Rushina wondering what it actually was and then we came to realise that it basically was no juice but just a frozen sugar syrup!

Kothambir vadis and batata vada at Laadu Samrat
The fishy sikandar juice!

Extremely happy and a tad tired we proceeded to Mumbai’s favourite in Babulnath – Soam. Rushina told me how close Soam is to her heart and is a place she’s always called her second home. Rushina and Pinky (owner of Soam) have been great friends and confidants, who’ve always given wings to each other’s ideas – even the most whacky ones! Anyone who’s been to Mumbai or has lived here has heard of Soam or visited it for sure for their Delectable home-like Gujarati-Rajasthani meals. This place has maintained the simplicity and flavours of their food for decades and Pinky informed us that they’ve been able to attain that because from the beginning till now they’ve had the same Maharaj and the same staff. The loyalty and the love has ensured that Soam maintains it’s consistency with flavours.

Pakoda platter at Soam
Faraali menu

We tried their pakoda platter and the farali offerings as well. Faraal is basically the food that is consumed by most communities during the auspicious Hindu month of Shraavan. Some of the food items are avoided during this time, specially grains and mostly only fruit based items are consumed. Soam is one of the few places in Mumbai which caters a wide variety in their faraali menu and attracts a lot of customers who wish to eat out during that time of the year.

Adrak chaai at Soam with pakoda of the day

It was a power packed day for us, or lets say ‘pakoda packed day?’ and by the end of the day we had tasted enough pakodas to last us till next year’s Chai Pakoda Day! It was a day of discovering and rediscovering the city one pakoda at a time and it couldn’t have ended on a better note that we trended on social media for the whole day which was a mark of national level participation. But let’s not miss the main point here, right? The aim was to ensure that people regard our own food and it’s diversity and take pride in showcasing it through different mediums. This was one of the splendid displays of unity in diversity and here’s to the many more food observance days that we will be actively participating in, in the near future.

Watch the video of our food crawl here: 

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