Sunday, February 08, 2015

Gajalee In Pune

Grilled Pomfret at Gajalee PuneMumbai’s popular seafood restaurant Gajalee is now in Pune!  Their raison d’être is simple: turning the freshest catch into sumptuous coastal delicacies with a minimum of fuss.  We turned up a their nicely done up (and large) restaurant next to the Inox multiplex in Camp.  Unlike in Mumbai, where there would be a long line of people waiting for tables at their flagship restaurant during lunchtime especially on a weekend, this restaurant was mostly empty.

The restaurant specialises in Malwani cuisine, even though you can find some influences from other parts of the Malabar coast.  Not many people seem to understand the subtle distinction in Malwani, Konkani, and Gomantak cuisines.  Konkan refers to the entire coastal region covering Goa and Karnataka. Malwan is that sub-region in the southern part of Maharashtra while Gomantak is primarily the Goan coast.  Each of these areas have distinct variations in their local food.

Gajalee Pune

They brought out the catch of the day that included large live crabs and a very large black pomfret.  We decided to go with the pomfret today.  Our waiter was very friendly and helpful - exceptionally so - which I have to highlight.  He recommended grilling the pomfret boneless in two different styles.

Bombil Fry at Gajalee Pune

As we waited for our fish to be grilled, he insisted on serving us a portion of their famous Bombil Fry.  Interestingly, this fish is also called Bombay Duck.  These is interesting speculation on how this fish may have come to be called that here.  Bombil tends to be very delicate and is difficult to cook without messing up.  However, these guys clearly know this fish.  The light and crisp batter-fried fish was a fantastic beginning to our meal.

The Pompfret was now served, grilled two ways.  One had the local red Konkan marinade while the other had a coriander-based green one. Both were sumptuous.  When the fish is excellent, everything else works too!

Pomfret done two ways at Gajalee Pune

For our mains, we had ordered their version of prawns curry (very similar to the Gassi).  They recommended we try this coconut and spice based curry with Ghavan and Amboli (Malvan versions of the more popular Neer Dosa and Appam).  Both breads are rice-based and steamed and balances the spiciness of the prawn dish very nicely when you use them to scoop up the gravy.

Prawns Curry Malwani style at Gajalee Pune

By now, we were quite satiated.  The restaurant had finally begun to fill up too.  We shared a portion of Malai Kulfi while our friendly waiter asked me if we would like a tour of the kitchen after we were done.  Would we?  Of course!

Malai Kulfi at Gajalee Pune

Gajalee Pune Kitchen Tour

Overall, Gajalee has managed to keep their seafood fresh and their food comparable to their Mumbai outlets.  For seafood lovers, it doesn’t get any better than this.  Next time, I am doing crabs here!


Anonymous said...

Konkan refers to the entire coastal region covering some part of Maharashtra, Goa, and Karnataka.

Shantanu said...

@Anon: Thanks. I am always a little confused about the boundaries of this region. :)