If you’ve followed this foodie long enough you’ll know that I’m a little obsessed with Swati Snacks… It simply doesn’t feel like home until I’ve paid a visit to this all-vegetarian Gujarati eatery each time I return to Bombay.
Which is why for a while now, many of my friends in the know have been recommending that I also try Soam, another all-veg eatery specialising in Gujju and Marwari fare.
A bit of Instagram stalking to stake out all the mouthwatering pictures tagged here, and I was swayed.
Situated right opposite Babulnath temple off Chowpatty beach, it’s a cheerfully simple restaurant – no frills, no fuss. The focus is squarely on the food, served on simple brass plates, with pressed banana leaves as mats.
Instead of the usual Swati order of dahi puri, we ordered a “vitamin bhel” – a colourful mix of bean sprouts, chopped tomatoes and potatoes spiked with chillies and a date-based chutney. Despite the pool of yogurt that it arrived swimming in, overall the dish was a tad too spicy for us and we missed the crunch familiar of Indian chaat …
But a refreshing sugarcane juice and coconut water definitely helped us wash it down well!
Continuing on the lighter note, we also went for the jowar pita pockets – as much fun to say out loud as it was to eat!
Instead of the denser pita bread, the restaurant rustled up a weight-loss friendly flatbread made with jowar (sorghum flour), stuffed with a green pea-based pattice (a French concept lovingly embraced and then adapted by Indian cooking) and a coleslaw salad generously dressed with Soam’s homemade mayonnaise – I’m really dying to get my hands on their eggless, yogurt-based recipe.
We couldn’t resist calling for paanki – savoury rice pancakes steamed in banana leaves. Soam delivered well on this favourite… but as was to be expected, it proved no match for its much finer and more delicate counterparts at Swati.
Similarly I found that the moong dal chilla (savoury pancakes made with low-carb and high-protein split green gram) was also much coarser than Swati’s paper-thin version.
But the nachni dosa was the stuff of every healthy foodie’s dreams. An ultra-crisp dosa made with the protein, fibre, iron and calcium-rich red millet! I especially loved the fresh coconut chutney that came alongside – much more flavoursome than what you’ll find on average.
In the words of nutritionist and fit-food guru Khushboo of K Weigh, “… if I was served this same meal in the West, it would likely be referred to as a ‘gluten-free, high-protein, vegan flatbread with a dairy-free, coconut-based coulis’… gotta love marketing buzzwords!“
As you can likely tell, we really relished our meal and all the more because it was so wholesome and relatively guilt-free. There was no trace of excess oil or ghee on our plates and despite having over-eaten, we managed to leave without the dreaded food belly hanging out!
So while I don’t for-see losing my way to Swati Snacks, I don’t doubt I’ll also be revisiting its peer – if not for the panki or chat, then definitely for the delicious wholegrain options here!
Soam, Ground Floor, Sadguru Sadan, Opposite Babulnath Temple, Chowpatty, Mumbai