Mondays in a new city can bring about a lot of emotions. A month back, I moved to Mumbai. Different city, different job, different work, almost everything’s new. It’s been crazy, overwhelming, satisfying, frustrating and absolutely amazing. They say, to really enjoy a city, you should talk to the locals. People who’ve lived there all their lives. On Monday morning, I was invited to lunch with two of my colleagues to Sarvi. “Best Seekh Kebabs ever. You will love it.” That was enough for me to agree. Parveez and Ashraf, have lived in Mumbai all their lives. They grew up in South Mumbai and have memories on every street and every lane. Not exaggerating. As we drove towards Nagpada from Lower Parel, there were stories about their school life, college, first fight, Sunday mornings, first job, first girlfriend and the gangsters that once roamed around Nagpada.
Sarvi has been around for almost a century, you can tell with the old rustic feel of the place. “My grandfather used to get me here. Then I’d come with my dad. It is like a tradition. I come here once every couple of weeks.” said Parveez, as he ordered his standard order of Seekh Kebabs, Aab Gosht, Kofta curry and roti.
“Oh, my dad and I would come here a lot when I was a child. The Seekh is to die for. Also, the Butter Chicken is amazing.” I am not really a Butter Chicken person, but the sparkle in Ashraf’s eyes as he ordered his Butter Chicken got me intrigued. All of you who think you’ve eaten the best kebabs in the world, you probably haven’t. The Seekh Kebabs at Sarvi are tender, succulent, perfectly spiced and amazing. We couldn’t stop ordering for more. The Aab Gosht is an Iranian Mutton stock mildly spiced, and the Kofta curry has tender meatballs in a semi thick gravy, both these dishes were comforting and yum. When the Butter Chicken came in, I was pleasantly surprised. It was actually ‘amazing’. It wasn’t sweet and tomatoey, but beautifully cooked chicken in a rich, buttery sauce. Sarvi also compliments your order with fresh mint leaves, onions, lemons and a soupy coriander and mint chutney which goes well with everything.
While Ashraf and I ended our meal with a Caramel Custard, Parveez ordered two really milky and sweet teas. Weird? “It is called Paani-Kam chai. I end my meal here like this. You want to try it?” I did, and it was strangely really great. I kind of wanted to ditch the Caramel Custard and order myself a Paani-kam chai. What made it more exciting was the way he poured the chai in his saucer and drank from it.
When you usually go out with your colleagues, you talk about work – the good and the not so good parts of it, or your clients. Well, that afternoon, all we did was speak about food. I was sitting with two people talking about their favourite food in one of their favourite restaurants. No matter how much life changed, Sarvi still continued serving their favourite food.
As we got out of the restaurant to get ourselves a cab, I asked the both of them to wait, I needed a picture of Sarvi’s board for my blog. “They don’t have a board. They don’t need one” said Parveez. Rightly so.