Mumbai's immigrants during the textile boom came from Malvan, Kokan. They came to the city in hordes to work in the textile mills. Most mills were located in the Parel, Lalbaug and BhaikhaLa/ Byculla areas. That is where the chawl culture came into being. Pigeon holes for living, cramping groups of 10 men in the kholis. The Malvani workers came to Mumbai as bachelors or left behind their families in the villages if they were married. The Chakarmaani as the workers were known earned meager wages for back breaking work of 12 hours in the mills. At the end of the day making their own meals was a huge task. So women who had accompanied their Chakarmaani to Mumbai came up with an enterprising idea of feeding these workers in their own homes. Thus Parel, Lalbaug and BhaikhaLa saw the mushrooming of Khanavali, simply put places to eat.
The Khanaval was a blessing for the workers, for a small sum paid monthly, they got good home cooked food to sustain them in this city. The women who ran them were loving called Kaku/ Maushi/ Vahini by these men. The atmosphere was homely and men were made to sit in rows on the floor or pangats just like in joint families and served lovingly. There would be a fixed menu each day rotating through the weeks. The workers could request for a certain dish of their liking and depending on the majority vote it would be made for them mostly on Sundays. Oh yes and like any family Sunday meals were special in the Khanaval. The Khanavalwali Kaku would ensure that there was mutton or chicken cooked in onion coconut masala in the traditional Malvani style. These had to be accompanied by a fried bread made from rice and lentils and made aromatic with spices, the Vade. The combo of Kombdi Vade were bliss for the Chakarmaani, after which I am sure he went back to his kholi and had a siesta dreaming about life back home in Malvan and even doing a Pandu Hawaldar sequence with his wife.
Later these same areas saw the rising of little Malvani eateries and Kombi vade became popular beyond the Chakarmaani. People from other communities started patronizing these places too. This combo became so famous that many people who had not tasted it wondered what Kombdi Vade was? Is it a single dish? Are the Vade stuffed with chicken? So let me deconstruct it for you, the Kombdi in the name stands for the chicken gravy which is mopped up with the fried bread or Vade, which is the second part of the name.
Many a times I received requests from readers for a recipe of Malvani Vade and I have taken it a step further to give you a wonderful product from AnnaParaBrahma. So here's to the launch of Malvani Vade peeth!
- All you have to do is snip the packet open.
- For 1 cup of Peeth/ Flour add 3/4 cup of boiling water to it.
- Knead the dough.
- Cover and keep aside for 30 mins.
- After this oil your palm and fingers.
- Pinch out lemon sized balls of the dough and make a smooth one.
- Pat out the dough ball into a round disc thicker than you would for a puri. You can also use a plastic paper to pat out the vade if you find the dough is sticking to your hands.
- Heat oil and on medium heat fry until golden.
- Remove and drain on a paper napkin.
Serve the Vade with a chicken curry in the traditional Malvani style or for the vegetarians like me any gravy dish with your favorite veggies. I made Suran bhaaji on this day as a mock chicken curry that works really well with the Vade.
A self respecting Malvani swears by Kombi Vade his Mum makes. Now you can have the same magic in your own hands too. It's on the E-shop check it out. Send me a mail to firstname.lastname@example.org to buy it now.