Friday, April 30, 2010

Bedekar Tea Stall - Legendary food places of Pune

Bedekar Tea Stall, popularly referred to as Bedekar Misal has been the mainstay of Pune’s Misal aficionados for more than six decades. Established in 1948 by Dattatrey Bedekar, this quaint little establishment has withstood the passage of time and changing tastes of new generations. In its 62nd year it’s being managed by a duo of third generation Bedekar’s.

Located in the busy environs of old city at Narayan Peth, reaching it is akin to a pilgrimage with lot of penance and pain on the way but a desired and pleasant objective at the end. Yet, if one expected place with such history to be old & musty with an aura of nostalgia around it you couldn’t be farther from the truth. Apart from a small Marathi paper clipping adorning the wall, the establishment gives nothing away about the fan following it demands. To the casual visitor it might be just one of those random Amrutalays dotting the cityscape. One could come in have a meal and get out without ever realizing that we were one of those footfalls that have been coming to this place for more than half a century. The interiors are modern, functional and Spartan. The entire premises consist of a small hallway with tables on either sides, the serving/billing counter at the end, a board announcing the menu items on top and kitchen at the back.

On to the food then. Those accustomed to ordering Misal Pav everywhere else, don’t be perturbed by the missing Pav. Bedekar take their Misal very seriously and serve it as they have always done, with sliced bread. The bread soaks up the Tari better and offers a unique experience with focus completely on the Misal. As the bread soaked with Misal hits your tongue already salivating at the wait, the bread lets go as easily as it absorbed, the juice breaks out and assaults the taste buds with its medley of spices. The crunchy onion and Farsan sprinkled with lemon juice adds the tangy crunch and texture. That’s when you lose track of your surroundings and every bite becomes a step towards food nirvana. Bedekar’s Misal is not the hottest Misal around but still ranks up there with the rest. A word of advice? When the tongue starts burning, cool it down with a bowl of fresh curd (it still doesn’t stop the nose from flowing though).

Some purists argue that, the Misal not being fiery enough which traditionally seems to be the standard measure of a Misal’s quality, and consequently Bedekar does not deserve the accolades reserved for it. Historically, hotness is attributed to its Kolhapuri cousin. What Bedekar has succeeded in doing is to put Pune on the Misal map with its own unique taste and characteristics. The repeat visitors and the very fact that Bedekar is still around after 60 years is a testament to the fact that they are good in what they do and deserve every adulation that their fans afford.

Having Misal at Bedekar befits the image of a traditional Puneri Manus relaxing with a soul satisfying cup of tea after a plate of his favorite Misal, an ideal culmination to a slow day at work before he heads home to be with the family.

They do a mean Kharwas too but hold off ordering any of the cooler drinks there. Bedekar’s Misal is best washed down with flavored sugarcane juice at ‘Cool Cane’ on Laxmi Road a minute’s walk from Bedekar. Cool Cane offers cold sugarcane juice without ice in 9 different flavors with or without ice cream and is a treat for the taste buds. I would recommend mixing them up and found the Mint, Lemon, Ginger and Chat masala combination to be very refreshing.

Food - 3.5/5
Value For Money - 4/5
Ambiance - 2.5/5
Service - 3/5
Hygiene - 3/5

Overall - 3.2/5

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