“What do you guys eat?” I would ask vegetarians through mouthfuls of chicken frankie. Yes, I’ve been a jerk and I’m not ashamed of it. For the most part, I’ve been pretty sensitive and respectful towards people’s dietary choices. But I’m also among those who cackled diabolically watching ‘paneer samajh ke kha ja’. Ergo, #MeatlessMondays is not something I would choose without being convinced about the reasons 100 per cent. ‘Meatless Mondays’ began during World War I when the U.S. Food Administration urged families to reduce their consumption of key staples to aid the war effort. More than 13 million families signed a pledge to observe the national conservation days. The campaign was relaunched by President Franklin D. Roosevelt during World War II. In the immediate post-war years, President Harry S. Truman continued the campaign to help feed war-ravaged Europe. It was finally revived in 2003 by health advocate Sid Lerner in association with the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health’s Center for a Livable Future.
Meatless Monday is now embraced in more than 40 countries and has been shown to benefit our health, animals and the environment.
Why Mondays, you might ask? Because God chose it as the day we atone for our sins by leaving the weekend and the good food behind. Or because it is typically the beginning of the work week, so you can trade in your weekend habits for healthier choices to begin the week well. The Monday I began though, the skies were visibly darker, the air around was gloomy and I was snappy. As if Monday blues weren’t enough, the serious lack of protein (deep-fried or beautifully marinated) was adding to the gloom. That’s when a foodie friend scoffed at me, urged me to focus on flavours and asked me to begin the experiment on a high note.
So I did exactly that, with a celebratory lunch at Vedge in Andheri West. Climb the stairs of Fun Republic, and there it was, right in front of me. I had walked right past it to McDonald’s and KFC a million times without ever noticing it. The nice lighting, elegant interiors, spaciousness and plush comfortable couches make it the kind of place you would want to bring your mother to, come on a date or even choose for a family celebration. What I was happy to see: unlike most veg restaurants, this one didn’t have the usual idli, dosa, pav bhaji, grilled sandwich and vegetarian Chinese fare.
The pani puri shots are a good place to start. The crunch of a puri in your mouth and the subsequent burst of tangy flavours is something you would never want to change. But this experience challenges your perception of a dish that much of the country associates with childhood by making it a little bit more grown up. I was hooked. The menu is global with classic as well as quirky dishes. I’ve never seen a Khow Suey share a menu card with a masoor dal and cauliflower slider before. I played it safe with a huge plate of loaded nachos. Struggling to remain crisp under the weight of cheese, bell peppers and jalapenos, they lived up to their name.
Following up quickly with a more daring plate of paneer, corn and mushroom dumplings and a huge bowl of burnt chilli noodles, I unknowingly played with as many flavors and textures as I could.
Maybe the next time around, I’ll give the masoor dal and cauliflower slider a try. Make it like that and watch me eat, Mom! What the place lacks in alcohol, it more than makes up for with its wide range of innovative mocktails and local beverages with signature twists. By the time I was done with my third glass of Paan Supari Martini, I was scribbling introducing James Bond to it on my bucket-list. The Manglorean Gadbad Falooda is highly recommended as is the Oreo Churros with Vanilla Crème Sauce; but I ended the meal with the ultimate – their Magic Chocolate Pot. It left me with an even goofier smile on my face than when I’m in love. Going to work starry-eyed about what to try on the coming Monday is something that I never anticipated. I’m not going to give up my carnivorous ways but vedging out on Mondays doesn’t seem all that bad anymore.
How to Get There:
Where: Ground Floor, Fun Republic Mall, New Link Road, Veera Desai Area, Mumbai
Contact: 022 61668906 | +91 8976042312
Timings: 11:30 AM to 11:30 PM
Cost: ₹1,000 for two people (VAT & service charges extra)