Kashmir ki Kali

about Malaji Pada, Vasai, Maharashtra, India

I managed to extricate Sunanda from the clutches of a set design job only minutes before midnight on Valentine’s day, but that did not stop me from taking her to Kashmir.

Driving along the Ahmedabad highway past Dahisar, we were wondering which of the dhabas lining the road were worth stopping when, among village scenes, a castle and some vaguely Keralite structures we caught sight of a houseboat. It turned out to be Poush (whose sibling Kong Poush used to be close to my house in Oshiwara). Apparently, "Poush" in Kashmiri means flower; close enough to kali for me to put on a Shammi Kapoor act. This kali is a large, elaborate affair with multiple houseboatish structures, a lawn and even a section with air conditioning.

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The place is definitely romantic, if noticeably on the cheesy side. divan-style seating that allows you to cuddle up, lots of sheer curtains and bright fabric and fake flowers and other such romantic touches. And its much too brightly lit to be a seedy makeout place. Plenty of women among the patrons, too, not just brooding bunches of half-drunk men.

Kashmiri food is as rare as Kashmiri handicrafts are common. I’ve always wondered where all those people who run the hundreds of Kashmiri emporiums in every corner of Mumbai eat - its unlikely they all make a daily trek to Vasai - but there’s hardly any Kashmiri food to be had anywhere (and that’s not just Mumbai). Poush was, therefore, a bit of a find. The hot saffron kahwa was quite lovely, the Kashmiri classic goshtaba more than passable, especially when combined with the saffron batta – rice. The rather exotic-sounding starter - kokur kanti (apparently chicken pieces flavoured with herbs, roasted and stir fried with onions and tomatoes) - was a disaster of undercooked ingredients; we hope that was merely the cook having a very bad day. Of course, unlike the Goregaon outlet with its pristine Kashmiri menu, this is a highway stop so punjabi items abound and there’s even a peek of the odd chinese.

Poush
Krishna Garden Resort
Maljipada, Vasai
Mumbai, Maharashtra 401210
+91 98 21 213232

Cuddling up on a divan in the curtain-enclosed booth of a fake shikara, looking up at the large white halogen that served as the moon, sipping exotic saffron tea and rolling off names like goshtaba to the turbaned waiter – there are worse ways to spend a Valentine’s

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