Mumbai’s best Gujarati thali

Mumbai’s best Gujarati thali

India's signature all-you-can-eat vegetarian meal -- for those who enjoy mixing sweet and spicy on the same plate

Mumbai’s best Gujarati thali -- Recommended: Golden Star

Golden Star thaliJust looking at all the food on the Golden Star thali exhausts you. And inspires you."At Golden Star, they really pack it in the large thali,” says Sanjiv Khamgaonkar, Best Eats judge and food blogger. “Just looking at all the food on the plate exhausts you."

Three farsans, four vegetables, Gujarati dal, dal bati, dahi kadhi, dahi, four kinds of rotis, rice, pulao or masala khichdi, chutneys, papads, raitas and chaas. And endless refills by waiters who pride themselves on their ability to cajole you into excess. Not that you need the pressure.

The restaurant's maharaj or chef, who goes by the name of Mularam, likes to juggle his menu around seasons and festivals. Come winter its undhiya, a mix of fresh winter vegetables.

Yes, they follow tradition here and this means that the food does tend to be heavy on the oil and ghee. But it’s all top quality.

330, Raja Ram Mohan Roy Road, opposite Charni Road Station; +91 (22) 2363 1983. Open daily 11:30 a.m. – 3:30 p.m., 7 –10:30 p.m.;

Mumbai’s best Gujarati thali -- Recommended: Shree Thakker Bhojanalay

Shree Thakker Bhojanalay Shree Thakker Bhojanalay -- long queues but worth the wait.After you brave traffic-choked streets, sleeping cows and stray dogs, long queues at lunchtime greet you here. But don't worry, everyone is patient and orderly. Regular customers know the wait will be worth it.

Once you’re in, the well-oiled serving machine takes over and delicious thing after delicious is served on your plate -- before you know it you’ve started eating.

Shanky, Best Eats judge and food blogger, is a fan.

The vegetables are tasty and not too oily, the dal is excellent, the farsans crunchy and the airy, soft and moist dhoklas are outstanding.

Sjree Thakker Bhojanalay's kadhi is almost silken in texture and feel. Depending on the menu of the day and the season, hot chapattis, bajra roti, jowar roti, shrikhand and moong dal halwa, as well as puran poli and mango aamras, are served.

“But it's the khichdi here that I like the most,” says Best Eats judge and food blogger Sanjiv Khamgaonkar. “It’s soft and gooey and with a generous helping of ghee on it. Very difficult to resist."

That's the problem of serving the khichdi last at places like this -- you’re full by the time it arrives. And the waiters here actually ignore your protests and put an extra serving on your plate. Which you can't ignore.

31, Dadyseth Agiary Marg, opposite GT High School, Kalbadevi; +91 (22) 2201 1232. Open daily 11 a.m.-3 p.m., 7-10:30 p.m.

Mumbai’s best Gujarati thali -- Winner: Friends Union Joshi Club

Friends Union Joshi Club Friends Union Joshi Club -- a simple yet satisfying thali. If you are going to be daunted by an old decrepit building with a dodgy staircase, don't come here.

But that would be a huge mistake.

At Friends Union Joshi Club, you’ll discover one of the most simple, light and basic thalis -- it comes closest to home-cooked soul food.

This historic place, which is more 100 years old, is called a khanaval in local parlance -- a place that serves home-cooked food for the men who leave their villages in Gujarat to find work in Mumbai.

Its large thalis have four vegetables, one dal, one farsan, phulkas and bhakris, a salad and a sweet dish.

Best Eats judge Vikram Doctor, journalist and food writer, finds it “simple, yet satisfying and doesn't overload with richness the way other places have started doing."

Doctor also loves khanaval because it’s “another old-fashioned, simple eating place on the Kalbadevi road where you can still buy monthly meal tickets if you want." Very Mumbai.

381 A Narottam Wadi, Kalbadevi Road; +91 (22) 2205 8089. Open daily 11 a.m.-3 p.m., 7-10 p.m.

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