Back on the bicycle after ages (and still on my goodboy diet) I find myself speeding through the non-veg dens of Mahim towards safer vegetarian territory in the heart of Sena land - Dadar Shivaji Park - and a break at one of those rare places in Mumbai to serve Maharastrian food. Stuffed into a corner beside better-known, branch-in-dubai oriental sibling Gypsy Chinese is tiny Gypsy Corner.
Unlike the average misal-vada-poabhaji place that passes for Maharashtrian food in the city, Gypsy serves full meals with names properly ending in "chi" or "li" (nope, still no chinese). Malvan fish restraurants abound in Mumbai and Kolis have their Festivals but the Ghatis, prevented from lounging on the beach by the Western Ghats, have their own vegetable, mutton, chicken choices all spiced up with loads of coconut and some very nice local chillies. While Mumbai pretends that all of Kolhapur cooks only one kind of vegetable, the Marathas tickle their tastebuds with quite an array of dishes. Only four places in the city, as far as I know, allow you to indulge ala Shivaji - Purepur Kolhapur, Diva Maharashtracha, Aaswad and my current location - Gypsy. The last two are pure vegetarian and all are short walks from each other (though Purepur has a branch in Vile Parle and Diva Maharashtracha apparently in Andheri). Thane has some options, and there's the strip of roadside stalls between Kamala and Todi mills on Tulsi Pipe if you're willing to look past the beaten path.
Gypsy has a small but frequently changing menu with lots of exotic-sounding daily specials (I suspect they sound more pedestrian if you speak Marathi). This is the tale of me giving up the Sunday special batata patalchi bhaji (which violated my dietary sensibilities) in favour of bhareli vangi; it combined diet-friendliness with my love for brinjal. Three stuffed baby versions in a thick coconut gravy that just could not have been good for me soon landed up, accompanied by two fat gravy-soaking bhakris. The bhakris gave me a moment of guilt (partly rice, after all) but by the time my mind had played out the debate the bhakris were - well - gone. The man at the counter wanted to tempt me with a modak and tup (apparently that's a dollop of ghee on top) but I stood strong and hightailed it out of there.