Although I am not such a big fan of restaurant food or even to that extent a frequent visitor of restaurants, I do like to try out different tastes from different parts of the world. The name Gajalee has been around my ears for some time now and had heard a lot of good things about it. Now since I am writing about it, you guyz probably would have guessed that, I have finally earned the privilege of being Gajalee’s customer as well as admirer. Well, I might not be the first person to admire about Gajalee, but then the experience is so exquisite, it compels me to share my "opinions".
You can find that typical konkani-marathi hospitality out here and atmosphere is quite casual, as if you are at home. The location is again a typical Parle locality, with lot of people on the streets probably because of Sunday evening, few youngsters grouping around on the footpath and enjoying the evening. Parle being a cultural centre of Mumbai especially for Marathi speaking community, this gives that typical marathi touch to the whole scene. The restaurant is quite spacious, well lit with few antique lamps hanging over each table.
Out full course meal started with a crab soup. This hot soup, much thinner, as it should be, with tender pieces of crab meat, no extra frills and additives and just a few spices to add that extra taste, beating all the starchy thickness of those Chinese soups. May be I am little biased over here, but then I did like it more. After activating your taste buds for something nice, this soup leaves you with a raised appetite and ample digestive fluids activated around your digestive pathway just waiting for more to come.
The fish tikka, garnished with a thin layer of spices, (not deeded in spices as in most other cases), keeps lingering on you tongue. When these soft pieces of "Surmai" fish grilled to the perfection arrive on your table, in a banana leaf, with the mouth watering aroma, it just starts giving a tinkling sensation at your tongue, going down the stomach, serves to be real appetizers. As you relish small pieces of this delicacy and it starts melting down your gastric passage, you are sure there is more to come and you are in right place for sure.
I am not going to use the word authentic over here. This word is quite overused and lost its meaning long back. It’s even difficult for the original community who invented the dish and who cook that food in their kitchens, to say what is authentic. The word authentic is quite subjective and I strongly believe that consistent taste is what matters more, than going down the roots of where the dish has come from or whether its been recommended by some expert. Real experts are the people and the people flocking around any restaurant can give you a genuine opinion rather then the news paper and magazine articles.
We had Ghavane, Amboli and a tangy fish curry for our next course. Although the Ghavane and Amboli have similar looks and taste to their South-Indian cousins like "Neer dosa " and "Uppam", their combination with a coconut rich "Malvani" fish curry is unique. The perfect blend of spices, just enough to give that little sour and tempting taste. We had to order more Ghavane and ended up eating more than usual. Well, again my wife pulling my legs on, how my appetite suddenly doubles, when I see such exquisite delicacies in front of me.
Just to divert a little from all fish meal, we opted for mutton dum biryan and it came as a sweet surprise. Dum biryani is speciality of hydrabad, but gajalee has got its own innovation in this area. The mutton dum biryain cooked in a earthan pot called as "Handi", has its catchy flavour and added more variety to our dinner.
The "Sole Kadhi" is the best digestive and has that unique tangy taste of "Kokkam" and thickness of coconut. So after stuffing yourself with all the delicacies, make sure to have a glass of "Sole kadhi". I found the "Sole Kadhi" in "Malvan Haiser" to be more interesting than this, but then, that’s again a personal opinion.
One more uniqueness of this restaurant is that, the prawns, pomfrets and lobsters and crabs are available for your selection, before they go to the kitchen and cooked for you. We got little disappointed when we didn’t get baby lobsters, but then they are quite seasonal and you got to be lucky to get them. So for the Connoisseurs of good food go ahead and add this experience of "Malvani Coastal Food" to your list.