Sometime back, I had booked tickets to a Jazz concert at NCPA on BookMyShow. As was the promotion going on at the time, I had to choose two food vouchers that I would receive free with it. Well, I chose Soda Bottle Opener Wala (SBOW) for one. And the other, I chose something I hadn’t heard before then – Paratha Mantra. Like a lot of people, I too have a weakness for good parathas (don’t forget the big chunk of butter on top, its a sin to have parathas without that). And then a simple Google search revealed that I could choose what filling I wanted, how I wanted them cooked, and it was close to the place I was put up at. Choice made, Paratha Mantra it will be, and I decided it would be a convenient place to have dinner at after the concert.
Well, it was a Saturday night, the concert ended around 9:15 PM. I was out the NCPA gate in minutes. And as it very often happens in Mumbai, no taxis were ready to take me to Flora Fountain, where the Paratha Mantra restaurant is located. Taxis generally don’t want to take such short rides, especially so late in the night, so after asking 5-6 taxis, I gave up hope and trusted my feet to step up and take the responsibility of ferrying me there.
Paratha Mantra serves good old simple desi parathas – aloo, gobi, mooli, mutter, paneer, and the like, and also innovative fusions, what they call the New World Parathas like pesto paratha, vada pav paratha, paneer chili parathas, lonavala fudge parathas and the like.
Finally, I reached the restaurant pretty late. The crowd had thinned out, the neighboring Cafe Military had downed its shutters. Since I mentioned Cafe Military, head down for a chilled beer and some great Irani snacks there. And then finish it up with the parathas at Paratha Mantra. This sounds like a perfect evening plan for me. Anyways, back to Parathas.
I settled in at a corner table. Traveling solo, I generally prefer a corner table, away from the action and attention (that’s a myth, if you are a female plus eating alone at a table, there will be no way you can avoid that). But corner tables are nice, they feel good to me.
I am someone who doesn’t like her parathas to be messed with, and there’s only so much innovation I will take to such desi classics close to my heart (and stomach and palate). So, it was clear to me the fusion menu wasn’t for me. Thalis weren’t available that day (thalis are only available during specific hours, and I was already toeing the line for closing hours) otherwise thalis are generally my first option – no hassle, no choosing what to order, and yet get to sample so much that you’re full, satisfied and happy.
Finally I settled in for two ‘old-world’ parathas – aloo mutter and aloo gobhi, both made parathe-galli wali style. That style is their specialty. The other options you have here mom-style on a tawa, tandoori style in a tandoor, and pizzeria style in a pizza oven. You also have options about the flour you would like used in your parathas – standard flour (maida), whole wheat flour, and multigrain. I let mine be the standard ones. Let my parathas be as they are, don’t judge – them or me!
The service is quick, the staff is nice and warm. The place has cool interiors. It is fun to be here, really. They have a really good selection of parathas. Chances are you will be spoilt for options, but the staff is really very helpful, they will assist you in choosing what you would like to have, and trust me, you won’t be disappointed. The menu is innovative, and refreshing. Some parathas seem a little OTT to me but then there are loyalists and lovers of those versions too, its just not my style. As I said, I like my parathas the classic way, I don’t get to experimentative there, but there are gastrophilists and taste-chasers who would love trying fusions and innovations. (Or maybe I am just getting old, you know!)
You can check out their menu here –
Soon, my parathas arrived.
The parathas were served with a bowl of dahi, and a bowl of the most delicious pickled chutney I have ever eaten. I could just call it a pickle, but it is so much more than that, almost like an amritsari chutney. And it makes eating the paratha so much more amazing, in fact, these days I visit the place again just to eat that chutney, the parathas are a super bonus.
The biggest thing about these parathas I had was that they were not doughy. So often, we encounter stuffed parathas that are slim on the stuffing, as a result giving a very doughy feel, because all you are then eating is the dough. And Paratha Mantra does not serve you parathas like that. The parathas are loaded with stuffing and you can feel it in every bite, be the centre or the edge. Each bite is really delicious and worth your time and taste. The parathas are steaming hot, freshly made. Even at such a late hour, when just about the time I was half done with my first paratha I was politely asked if I would like to order anything else since they were going to close the kitchen soon, I knew it was a little past their closing hours, so I finished my order and made sure to eat a little quickly.
As I was leaving the staff not only wished me good night (simple polite habits, but not many do it now, but I like it when somebody greets me like that, feels kind and nice), and asked me if I would like to call a cab or need any assistance, since it was quite late. I only had to go until CST, which is like a 5 minute walk from Flora Fountain. The restaurant is in a small by-lane in the area, and with the Metro work going on, the main road on that side is cordoned off, as is the footpath in some areas, so it tends to get really lonely and dark. The staff was really nice, and suggested that I take the residential area bylanes rather than the main road, because the footpath lights would be out, plus there were big metal partitions up there, so the bylanes would be safer and quicker. They even guided me for the route all the way to CST, I needed the guidance to reach the ghanta ghar near the bazaar gully, from there its a straight walk, I knew. It feels good when someone greets you well, and ensures you have a good experience of dining at the place and also reach back home safely.
Since then, I have visited the place almost every time I am in the area, which is a lot and loved relishing their parathas. Anytime I have some time, I just pop in here, and have some me-time with the parathas and chutney (did I tell you how delicious that chutney is?)
One of the biggest plus here is, the place is very economic and will definitely not burn a hole in your pocket. Pay day or month end, you can come here anytime and have a really hearty meal, and you will go back, happy, satisfied and full. Throw in some delicious desserts and you might feel like asking if you can just lie down on the couch for a while because you are so full. For me, I end my meal here with a lick of that chutney, again, if I haven’t mentioned before how amazingly delicious pickled chutney that one is, I am telling you now.
So, here’s my Food Card:
Taste – 9/10
Ambience – 8/10
Service – 9/10
Value for Money – 10/10