There is so much history in Parel located in Central Mumbai and with this nostalgia comes good food. There is one inverted pizza shaped city block which is outlined with a string of ultra famous restaurants. Those kind where you will see people patiently waiting in a queue during meal times. One more thing which come to mind as soon as you think about Lalbaug is Malvani cuisine.
Location of Hotel Mast Malvani
If you want to reach Hotel Mast Malvani by the local train you have to get down at Lower Parel which is on the Western Line or Curry Road on Central Line which is a bit closer. Nearest landmark is Bharatmata Cinema which the BEST bus stop.
It is on the same road as Parel Post Office and it is so tiny that you blink and you can miss. Thankfully that is the only restaurant in the lane and precisely marked on Google Maps.
History of Malvan
This sections is devoted to the history of Malvan which is quite interesting. But those who want to read about the restaurant can skip this part.
In the good old days, Malvan was mostly marshy with lots of salt pans. Some people believe that due to the coconut (mad) plantations (wan) it was called Madwan and later Malvan. Other say that it was a port where best stuff used to be traded. In Marathi goods means maal and A-1 is ofter referred to as best quality and hence mal-van.
British always eyed this area to secure a foothold for their trading. Portuguese who ruled Goa also wanted to expand northwards into this marshy region. But it was Adil Shah of Bijapur who held sway here with the help of Khem Sawant of Sawantwadi. Khem Sawant was originally from the Sisodiya family of Udaipur who was brought here by Adil Shah in 1627. So he was constantly in friction with the local Maratha sardars. In 1664, Shivaji Maharaj decided to take control of this region. Shivaji for the first king who realised the importance of amphibious operations. He began construction of Sindhudurg fort on 10th November 1664. The fort was completed in 1667. He later constructed many smaller forts in the vicinity. This led to the creation of many roads in the Malvan region and a market place. The town came up in the area surrounding the market.
The next few years, Shivaji focussed on building a formidable navy with marine warfare strategy. Chatrapati Shivaji Maharaj is rightly known as the Father of Indian Navy. At its peak, Shivaji’s navy had close to 500 battle ships. Like true guerrillas, the Maratha marines never ventured out for battle in the open seas. They formed small squadrons and restricted themselves to shore battles. He set the stage for a navy to be taken over by a young Kanhoji Angre. Rani Tarabai, wife of Rajaram handed over the responsibility of Konkan coast to Angre. For 30 years (1700 to 1729), Kanhoji ruled the sea from Surat to Konkan fighting many sea battles and won all of them. Sindhudurg was the headquarters of the Maratha Navy and the fort could only be captured many years after his death in 1765. By then the British had their own powerful navy and gradually took control of the complete costal belt in 1818. Malvan came into its own by having its own judicial court in 1822 and a port in 1850. But with Ratnagiri becoming the district headquarters, development moved away from Malvan.
Malvan has a confluence of food cultures from Goa, Konkan and the Maratha heartland. Local people are either fishermen or farmers. Main attraction of Malvan is still the local fish auction which happens everyday in morning and evening. Coconut is liberally used in Malvani cooking.
Malvani masala is the most popular export outside this region. It is mostly used for cooking non veg. The burst of flavours exploding in your mouth with a typical smokey burnt edge is unforgettable. The masala is prepared by roasting spices on a low flame and then grounding them. 15 different spices go in the making of Malvani masala.
About the menu at Mast Malvani
Standard Malvani food here. There is a wide range of thalis most of which are mutton, chicken and fish. There is just one veg thali here. Next comes the mutton and chicken dishes. Finally there is fried fish and other non veg dishes. There is also a section in the menu for regular Indian dishes both veg and non veg.
Some interesting dishes on the menu are vajari which are goat intestines. Very tasty and healthy option. Then there is mutton suka and mutton kolhapuri which has the signature taste of malvani masala. In bread we have chapati, wade, rice bhakri, ghavne and amboli. To finish off your meal there is buttermilk and solkadi.
The preparation is top notch especially the mutton and fish dishes. Meat is tender and fish is fresh. Spicy is the norm here so be ready for an assault. Food usually arrives quickly but some fish dishes might take time for the preparations. The tiny kitchen is a buzz of activity during meal times.
You will get the most comfortable food vibes here having a meal. Prices are reasonable with the most expensive dish of course the pomfret.
The seating is basic and frugal. The main focus remains service and food.
Hotel Mast Malvani is basic and simple. Despite the fact that it is famous and has top reviews in this category, it has not forgotten its roots. What you get here is not just food but a delightful experience of life.