Once the capital of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj and the mighty Peshwas, Pune today maybe burgeoning with IT parks, but it still manages to preserve its old-world charm in its language, in its forts, old bazaars, its Dagdu Sheth and of course, its cuisine. Be it the Irani Goodluck Café’s Bread Pudding, the spicy Kalyan Bhel, Maharashtrian Thali at Shreyas or a sumptuous glass of Mastani, eating in Pune is never disappointing.
To sweetly say it, a Mastani is to Pune what a Falooda is to Mumbai.
A Mastani is a milk-based cold drink, with a thick milkshake base, topped with pieces of cut fruit, dry fruits and whipped cream or ice cream; varying depending on the flavors chosen. It is said that in earlier times when the cold drink was served to people, they used to say that it was ‘Mast’, the hindi word for ‘awesome’. Over time, it went from being described as ‘Mast’, to being called as ‘Mastani’, after the very beautiful and effervescent courtesan – Mastani, who as the legend goes, stole the Mighty Bajirao Bhallal Peshwa’s heart.
On my trip to Pune, I found numerous shops selling Mastanis, but the best Mastanis come from either Sujata Mastani in Sadashiv Peth and Gujjar Cold Drink in Budhwar Peth. Sujata Mastani has over 20 flavors ranging from Rose to Kesar, Chocolate to Mango. They even make their own ice cream in the French Pot style. Sujata has been a huge brand for over 50 years, so I decide to head to Sujata Mastani. They have many branches across Pune, but the best and the oldest is in Sadashiv Peth so that’s where I go.
The best, signature, no frills Mastani is the Mango Mastani, and that’s what I order. A big glass of the delicious Mastani is put before me. It is so full that I am afraid to move it, if I move it I might spill it. So, I sip up some of the drink with the straw and then move it closer to me. It looks awesome. Pieces of mango, a cherry scoop of ice cream and loads of dry fruits on the top – it is a burst of calories.
The mango milk shake is think and chilled. No ice crystallization and it is very smooth. The dry fruits add a crunchy texture to the otherwise smooth texture of the Mastani. It is a burst of Mango flavor in the mouth in every mouthful, with bits of cashews, almonds and pistachio nuts in it. The ice cream adds further creaminess to the drink, while also making cooler and sweeter.
In a lot of ways, it is very similar to the Falooda of Mumbai, however, my experience says Mastanis are a lot thicker than Faloodas, but I could be wrong. No matter what the difference, a trip to Mumbai is definitely incomplete without the super cool, super delicious glass of Mastani.
Across different shops, you will find a lot of variants. I prefer to stick to the no-frills signature dishes, but each one can make their own choices. Mango and custard apple top my list of favorites. The Bajirao Mastani of Gujjar Cold Drinks is also very delicious, I have heard.
So the next time you are in Pune, sip the Mastani and go Mastani…