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Comfort Food Recipe: Zelda's Lachko

June 13, 2023 12:55 IST
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One of the most sumptuous and tastiest Gujarati thalis to sample, the best across the length and breadth of Mumbai, is Shree Thaker Bhojanalay's.

Located only at Kalbadevi, the bustling, crowded business district of the southern part of the city, it is ideally negotiated on foot or by taxi, since parking is a problem. An old, old eatery, started up in 1945, situated on the first floor of a narrow, shabby building in a bylane, it has some pretty famous clientele, as the pictures on the wall testify.

Shree Thaker Bhojanalaya

IMAGE: My grandson, all of 7 months and fresh off the plane from Ireland, eagerly awaits the fare at Shree Thaker Bhojanalay. Photograph: Kshamaya Daniel

In very clean, pristine and welcoming environs, you are served such a head-spinningly delicious selection of Gujarati food you are likely to remember all your life.

On offer are several types of vegetables, awesome chulha-wallah hot ghee rotis, bajra bhakris, batis, puris, chutneys, salad, pickles, many varieties of farsan, dal sweet or unsweetened, kadhi sweet or unsweetened, papads, kheechiyas, chaas, dahi, aamras in season, various khichdis, lachko, pulau, seasonal specials, and three or four sweets, one of them usually that typical Indian fruit custard that you probably ate in boarding school.

Their preparation of vegetables is unique and different each time, always lightly spiced with new ingredients like lentil dumplings, or an interesting medley you had not thought of making. And a simple raseela alu dish is always on the menu.

Shree Thaker Bhojanalaya

Photograph: Kind courtesy Zomato

Excess food is never slopped onto your thali and the servers are always careful to listen to your instructions and serve in moderation. And the food is not sweet. But it is almost impossible to not over-eat, the meal is that wonderful and a food coma is the likely end-result as you heave and roll your over-stuffed, movement-resistant body out of the restauarant, good for only a long, long nap.

Rice-lovers like myself really enjoy that final rice-ghee-lachko course. The heavily ghee-and-asafoetida-laced lachko, also called lachka, the Gujarati variation of Maharashtrian varan, is complete comfort food.


Photograph: Zelda Pande

I had to master making this simple recipe at home to have on the off days when lentil-rice khana is a mood booster. Here is my version of lachko.


Photograph: Zelda Pande


Serves: 2


  • ½ cup toor dal or split yellow lentils, soaked
  • Water
  • Pinch haldi or turmeric
  • Salt to taste, about 1 tsp
  • 4-5 tbsp ghee
  • 1 tsp or more hing or asafoetida
  • Tiny pinch jeera or cumin seeds, optional
  • 7-8 curry pattas or leaves
  • Dash sugar


  • Boil the toor dal with water, little haldi and the salt for a long time over low heat till it's a paste and mash if need be.
  • In a heavy-bottomed kadhai, for the tempering, heat, over medium heat, the ghee.
    Add the jeera and the hing and let it sizzle a minute.
    Then add the curry pattas and allow it to crackle a minute or so and then add the dal.
    Add the sugar.
    Add a little water -- lachko has a slightly thicker than dal consistency.
    And a little more salt if needed.
  • Serve with steamed rice, papads, birasta (or deep-fried crispy onions) and ghee.

Zelda's Note: If vegan, consider replacing the ghee with 2-3 tbsp mustard oil.

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