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Parantha, Kheer et al At Crystal

Crystal has always been a darling for most old timer town Mumbaite. Am not sure if the Shobha De circle would look down upon. But most unlikely I guess. Because everyone in Mumbai starts off as a wannabe.

And everyone over God knows how many decades, would have been happy to have a paneer bhurji or a baigan bharta or a dal and/or a kheer with roti or parantha. Great location – bang on Girgaum chowpatty, awesome music [oldie goldie melodies], even better service [pretty quick on the take – can be in and out in 30 mins flat with full services stomach]. The only sore point being the long queue on weekends [but that gave it the sheen of exclusivity!!]

This takes me to my first brush with Mumbai about a decade and half-back. With my pigeon hole that gave me the PG status; where my hosts!! [who were the real tenants] charged me 20 times the rent they paid to the landlord for the 1500 sq ft house they occupied. All thanks to the Mumbai’s ill famed ULCRA - my host who was 50 plus old has grown-up in the same building and they apparently paid 1950’s rent in 1996. Awesome!! And there were three other PGs like me. So my hosts made a killing, really. My pigeon hole was a stone’s throw away from Crystal. That’s how Crystal became the vaunted joint. Kinda of a daily ritual on the way back from Express Towers.

Crystal has always been among my all time favourite food joints in Mumbai and have many times preferred it over a bigger name for the roti dal / kheer and the ole time sake. I have gone back to Crystal 4-5 times over the past 13-15 yrs, [when I moved out of my PG in late 1996 or for that matter when I moved out of South Mumbai in 1998.] and loved it every time. However my Crystal trip during my last visit to Mumbai will rank way up there.

We had gone there full house, a total family affair. Nerika, Bhaina/Bhauja, Anu/Dibbanjan, Lara/I. The fun was total. We started off with Coconut water from the shop which is probably as old as Crystal – it certainly was there when I had been there first while we were in the queue. As we went in, after customary weekend wait, we had the tables rearranged to fit the big group. Then we ordered bit of almost everything in the fare – as if I wanted to taste everything and compare the taste with that of yesteryears. We were expectedly delighted with service and the quality of food. Last heard, Anu and Dibbanjan [my sister and bro-in-law, who are civil servants and who stay in neighbouring Malabar Hills] were planning to go there again before the Mooli [Radish] stock get over to savour the Mooli Prantha once again.

Of the whole show the biggest surprise bonus was Bhai Mohan Singh apparently recognizing me and mentioning knowingly Mumbai ‘ghumne aye ho kya’ [he obviously assumed if some didn’t make it to Crystal for about half a dozen yrs, had to be living outside]. I certainly felt pampered by that gesture. However, I did miss the golden melodies which were absent that day as the music system was not operational. Overall it was a fun memory trip. I recollected the whole long list of friends and fancies whom I frequented with and bumped!! into those days.

Before Crystal we did spent a few minutes appreciating and joking the old building where I used to stay. My Journo Bhauja took my interview in preparation of her story and Lara gladly obliged here by filming the building. I also need to mention the wonderful moments by the sea behind Mahalaksmi temple. This place I went to after a gap of almost 15 years and just loved it as much as I loved it the first time. The first time it was on the rocks [it seems they have barricade for safety/security reasons] was an equally enthralling experience. Mumbaikars or possible tourists if you ever visit the Mahalakshmi temple please make it a point to walk down the stairs as you come out of the altar and go to the sea. In addition to the sight and the lovely breeze; the aloo bonda and the gol gapas were la jawab. I cant but mention the two other lovable customary accompaniments the pan and the kulfi at Chowpatty square – which had to have a bite of despite the overstuffed feeling!! post Crystal - to sign off a complete evening.

We heard that Crystal maybe closed down for repairs [was out in the dailies too, it seems], so this piece fascinated you – go get your Parantha/Baigan Bharta/Kheer before it is consigned to the history.

January 30, 2011


  1. yes feel like having the simple but delicious dinner in crystal once again


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