If you visit a Sindhi household on a Sunday afternoon, chances are that the whiff of steaming Sindhi Curry and Aloo Tuk — crisp, twice-fried potatoes sprinkled with amchur, coriander powder, chilli powder and black salt — will entice you.
But, how does one taste these dishes if one doesn’t know anyone from the community? That was the thought that prompted corporate worker Sannat Ahuja and his mother Kanchan Ahuja to start a delivery service called Sindhful. “Apart from Kailash Parbat, Tharu Sweets Mukhi Bhandar and Sindhu Sweets (in Khar West), there are barely any places that serve authentic Sindhi cuisine,” says Sannat, adding, “We wanted to focus on Sindhi fare because we feel people have forgotten our roots.”
The duo began catering to people through Holachef, an online delivery service in July last year. “We got 500 orders daily,” he says. But due to glitches, they quit the portal in January this year and started a business of their own. The three-month-old service receives over 65 orders daily. They delivery from Khar to Andheri and Juhu. The menu comprises traditional Sindhi dishes such as Sai Bhaji (a curry made of spinach, dal and other vegetables) with Bhuga Chawal (rice prepared with caramelised onions), Koki (crisp roti made with onions), Sindhi Curry Chawal (vegetables cooked in a tomato besan curry) with Aloo Tuk and Dal Pakwan (chana dal served with a crunchy Sindhi flatbread), among other dishes.
Sindhi food trail
Meanwhile, the culinary group Wandering Foodie has regularly been organising food camps in Chembur, where the Sindhi refugees settled when they fled from Pakistan. On August 10, they conducted a food crawl around the area. “Originally, Sindhi fare was bland. Over a period of time, due to Arab influences, the community began adding garam masala, imli chutney and other ingredients to make it flavourful. Today, the food is extremely rich,” says Jatin Khanna, the host of this crawl.
As part of the crawl, participants were taken to Vig Refreshment. “People enjoyed the Chola Pattice and Dal Pakwan here. The Sindhi pattice is made of channa and potato,” says Vinod Sarma, organiser, Wandering Foodie. They also visited a stall called Lakhumal Kundanmal Farsan Mart. “The Sanna Pakodas here are twice-deep-fried and served with lentil chutney,” he adds. At Gopals Mutton and Chicken, the group tried the Keema Pattice and the Bheja Keema Pattice. The trail ended on a sweet note with the Singhar ji Mithai (made of mawa or khoya), served at Jhama Sweets.
It doesn’t end there. Turns out, apart from the century-old places, restaurants in the city have also begun serving traditional Sindhi fare. 29 in Kemps Corner serves Sindhi Koki. Founder Nishek Jain points out that the food varies vastly among the different sub-castes. “While one sub-caste prepares Seyel Bread, which is bread cooked with masalas and tomatoes, another community may make it with naan,” he says.
The food, however, is a smart mix of ingredients, adds Jain. “Sai Bhaji, for instance, is made with spinach and dal. Sindhi Curry, too, uses both vegetables and pulses. It has everything — fibre, carbohydrate, proteins and fats,” he says, adding, “Sindhi Koki is the most sold dish on the menu.”
Restobars such as Dishkiyaaon (Bandra East) and Bar Bar (Kurla West) are spinning off Aloo Tuk as a bar snack. “Aloo Tuk is crisp and spicy, making it an ideal bar nibble,” says Paul Kinny, culinary director, Bar Bar. Bite-sized versions of Dal Pakwan are also served at Monkey Bar in Bandra (W). It is topped with amchur powder, chutney and radish slaw.