Vantage point

Friday, June 09, 2006

Misal Pav

Just like bhel in Mumbai and bhel in Pune are two different animals, and vadapav in mumbai and vadapav in Pune are two different animals, it has also been seen that misals in the two cities have little in common as well.

In Pune the misal is matki-based, i.e sprouts-based. The farsaan also tends to be crunchier in Pune. In Mumbai the misal is white-peas-based. Now imagine yourself with a piece of pav. If you want to scoop up misal, the matki-based one will form a much more compact, and broadbased alliance with the pav than a white-peas-based one. The matki stays on the pav, grips it, lends it character through osmosis of the gravy. The farsaan pieces attach themselves to the pav, and yet maintain a semblence of their crunchiness. When it is white-peas, the spherical things tend to roll off the pav and you have to make extra efforts to keep the morsel intact. The farsaan too in general tends to be slightly softer, maybe due to the humidity in the air. It becomes totally soggy, and might as well be wet besan.

Hwoever, much like the Mumbai vadapav, the Mumbai misalpav also scores in the pav department. The pav is so much softer, juicier, and yet crisper. So just like the ideal vadapav, the ideal misalpav would have misal from Pune and pav from Mumbai.

Fortunately, unlike the vadapav, where such a combination is a topic for fantasies, such a combination does exist for the misalpav. There is a small shack right outside the station at Santacruz West where you get Puneri misal with Bombay pav. Dee-vaa-een.

The most interesting misalpav I had in Pune was at the VIT canteen. This bloke would fill up the matki usal, then plunge his hand into a box of farsaan, take out a massive handful, and deposit it on top of the matki. Then he would eye the mound of farsaan philosophically, contemplate the meaning of life, and then again reach into the box and pile up more farsaan. It is the most farsaan-rich misal you have ever seen. The dish literally challenges gravity and succeeds. And if you are the types who enjoys the farsaan component of the misal more, it is the best sample around, if you will pardon the pun.

Update: Kunal informs me that the VIT misal does not even use matki. It just has sambhar topped with a mountain of farsaan. And chopped onions of course.