My Gastronomic Journey to Dapoli in the Konkan
It was my mom's idea that we spend a long weekend at Dapoli in the summer.I have been to other parts of Konkan earlier...Tarkarli,Malvan,Amboli,Vengurla,Ratnagiri,Ganapatipule,Chiplun and Murud Janjira. Each had its own flavor,unique stories and landmarks.Take for instance the Marleshwar temple which is housed in a cave and has snakes.Then was the Diveagar Temple which had a Ganpati made of solid gold which a farmer found in a field.This was kept for public viewing and unfortunately stolen recently and the gold melted.
Our first stop was ahead of Panvel,just before Karnala sanctuary....Kshanbhar Vishranti.Ordered Misal and Poha for breakfast.Misal is available in Mumbai and is a spicy sprouts dish served with dahi at times.It was different in taste from the city version.Must be the Agri version.Agri food is the local food in the area.The Agri are people whose occupations include farming and fishing.The red masala is distinctive.
After a long drive we reached Mangaon.I frantically contacted my friends Rhea and Kurush Dalal as I remembered them posting a picture of Mango Mastani on Facebook on their last visit to this place.This is Mango Milkshake with Mango Icecream and with the scorching heat,one could not think of a better solace.I first saw this on "The Foodie" where Kunal had it at Pune.I think it was at Sujata Mastani.My trips to Pune have been hurried,either to meet elderly relatives or to attend weddings so this has eluded me.
Mastani is named after Bajirao Peshwa's Queen Mastani,now subject of the next Ranveer-Deepika starrer.It is made from fresh mango pulp and is oh so refreshing! Not overtly sweet.
There was also Tender Coconut Icecream
The place is owned by Mr Sunkersett who is a Gujarati who has lived there for many years and also owns the chemist shop next door.His Marathi is impeccable!He told us about a Mr Sawant who has started a parlor serving Mastani in New Jersey,Connecticut! Spotted a Gujarati Thali place near Mangaon!
We drove past rivers and hills
We passed through the picturesque village of Ambet and turned towards Dapoli
We travelled by a hired cab from EmBee Travels and their driver Narayan was from that area and narrated many anecdotes.He showed us the simply gorgeous "Deshmukh Baug".Fell in love with this place.Set on a mountain,this little eatery overlooks coconut,mango ,kokum and jackfruit trees.In the middle of the afternoon birds were twittering! The place is owned by Mr Deshmukh who told us he has partners.....200 monkeys who refuse to share the fruits with him! Hahaha! Mrs Deshmukh makes sublime food
The seasonal Panha made from raw mangoes was delicious! We also tried the Karvanda Sarbat....a drink made from Karonda berries which we used to eat as children when we travelled by train to Pune and the villagers sold on railway platforms.
People from the Konkan are simple at heart.They have brilliant ideas but usually no great financial backing to carry out their ideas on a large scale.Spotted the Kokum Soda,made by Mr Deshmukh's son-in-law.Now if this were to be available in Mumbai,it would be a big hit!
The garden had Stevia plant which is a natural sugar substitute.
Cashew trees bore cashew fruits.These can be used to make Tender Coconut Bhaaji which is delectable.When ripe,the cashews are dried and roasted and then we buy them.
The view from the sitting area was so beautiful that one of the customers asked Mr Deshmukh if he could go to sleep in the evening under the pepper vines.Mr Deshmukh then reminded him about the snakes and monkeys.
What a pleasant break of journey! Gawked at the magazines on the Konkan and bought cinnamon and pepper from his garden.There was kokum from Rajapur,This is a souring agent used in fish curries and also used to make the famous drink Sol Kadi.He was selling the Karvanda Sarbat too!
Mrs Deshmukh's food was simply spiced but oh so good!
Loved the place so much that we made it a point to stop by,on our return.Sometimes people touch your life so.....you can't wait to see them again!