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Sachin's fried prawns: Mumbai's number one prawn dish?
This small 40-year-old Mumbai seafood bhojanalay serves substance over style
Sachin serves mostly things that swim in the sea. Treasures like prawns, fish and crab. Actually, mostly prawns and fish.
First and foremost, their prawns. Fried prawns, in particular. I can't stop eating them, one by one, nor can I stop raving about them. For me, it's undoubtedly the undisputed number one prawn dish in Mumbai, in the Indian food category.
What makes Sachin's fried prawns a winner is the use of a light batter that doesn't overpower the taste of the prawn, and yes, you can actually taste the delicious sweetness of fresh prawns come through. The sweet and succulent story continues with their prawn sukha -- a hot, tangy and spicy dish.
Sachin's fish menu offers only two variations: a light coconut based hot curry, and fried fish. The waiter will reel out the catch of the day and the choice is usually between pomfret (butterfish), surmai (kingfish), ravas (Indian salmon), bangda (mackerel) and bombil (Bombay duck).
The curry is sophisticated, they've got the balance of masalas right I think and the perfectly cooked fish, firm yet yielding to your fingers, is best eaten with rice though you could mop it all up with a few chapattis too.
The fried fish (catch of the day) is outstanding, the light batter doing the trick again. The waiters use an ingenious method to coax you into that extra slice of fried fish, the slice that’s going to tip you over into the zone of gluttony -- they come around with platefuls of hot, just-fried fish, often seemingly deliberately carrying it close to your nose. Clever little fellows, I am the first to succumb to their wiles.
Sachin's not all about seafood though
They do some mean chicken and mutton dishes too, with that awesome and fiery thing called mutton sukha topping the list of must-dos.
For vegetarians there's ... bad news. There's only a dal and a vegetable of the day on offer.
The thing about Sachin that makes me go back is its no fuss, no frills, wholesome home cooking that's both tasty and down to earth. A style that showcases all the intricate nuances of Gomantak cooking, the food of the Hindu Saraswat community who have their roots in the coastal regions of southern Maharashtra and Goa. (Don't be fooled by the romantic sounding name, Gomantak food borders on the devilishly hot.)
Being a frequent visitor to Sachin (15 years and counting) has its privileges -- you never have to share a table, a rarity in this cramped 10 table, 42 pax humble bhojanalay eating house. Started 40 years ago by Sanjiva Balaji Shetty, it's now run by his wife Padmaja, who continues the tradition of substance over style.
Sachin Corner View Building, Gokhale Road (North), Dadar; tel. +91 (22) 24466625. Open 11.30 a.m. – 3.30 p.m., 7p.m. – 10.30 p.m. Thursday closed. No credit cards.