Persian Dabar (Andheri, Mumbai)

After a gruelling 18 hour day of work and dealing with the mindless bureaucrats, gaping inefficiencies and capricious “businessmen” that the city plays host to, I was on my way home. At close to midnight, completely deprived of all energy and with an empty stomach, I’m sure you’ll forgive me for searching for “outside food” for satiation and a place for temporary refuge.

I came across a late night joint, Persian Dabar, near Marol metro station. First appearances were not too bad , until I saw the waiter putting a knife, which he had just dropped on the floor, into the clean serving drawer for customers’ use. I must concede little shocks me these days in Bombay. Despite my indignant stares, the waiter carried on oblivious. I was left ringing with those prophetic words of Plato on ignorance being the root and stem of all evil.

Just to get a coke to drink took several conversations with different waiters and finally the manager, who eventually managed to deal with my request. Clearly this start to my dining experience did not bode well. It’s amazing how such simple requests turn into a merry-go-round of whisperings and questions amongst the staff.

The malai kofta came with a vile grey metallic slurry; this really was for want of a better phrase, the Chernobyl disaster of a main course. I must add that I did use my glass of water as a pre-soak to clean those dirty knives I had been handed from that suspect cutlery drawer. The onion kulcha was definitely burnt and resembled a papad style pizza rather than a serious attempt at a kulcha.

The only half decent dish was the Paneer from the tandoor, but even in that dish I pulled out a raw onion skin and the green chutney had clearly been sent out to hundreds of diners previously. Half way through the meal I had to aggressively use my napkin to go after a lice-like insect found darting around the table. Oh why couldn’t the restaurant have given the table a wipe when I sat down?

By the end of this, I was exasperated and couldn’t wait to stand up and pay the bill in a a hurry (“Sir, please take a seat” the staff insisted). At INR 900, without alcoholic drinks, there are many better (and cheaper) places to explore. Whilst I’m in love with the city, Persian Dabar is a microcosm of everything that’s wrong with it. The service is unbearably slow and not free from mishaps, the food is ghastly and the other diners, well, let’s not even go there.

My standards might be set very high and my words might be rather inflammatory but if not me…who?

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