In a NUtshell:An 80 year old restaurant started by a gentleman from Surat, serving the same dishes made with same recipe, currently managed by his grandson – an experience to remember
Meal for 2: ₹400 onwards
Cuisine type : non vegetarian (beef and mutton)
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No bill. We paid approx 250 per person in cash
I rate all the food items & then give a final overall rating which is a simple average of the individual item ratings. What the ratings stand for: 5 = Excellent, 4 = Very Good, 3 = Good, 2 = Fair, 1 = Disaster
Short description- in case u r in a hurry:
We first came to know about Surti 12 handi from our fellow food blogger and mumbai specialist finelychopped. Sounded interesting. On a Sunday afternoon we went to have lunch to find the shop closed. We were told that it is open only in the morning and evening.
When a foodie friend and fellow blogger from kolkata , Indrajit said he was in mumbai and wanted us to take him to a place which Wud b experiential, we thought Surti cud b a good choice and it turned out to be very good.
The original Surti 12 handi was started in 1938. The gentleman who started it, came from Surat and he set up shop in Bohri mohalla. The grandson of the founder (He is, I guess in his fifties now) runs the shop.
The shop was on the main road earlier, since the beginning, where a multi-storeyed building is now coming up. So the shop has been temporarily shifted to the current location for a few years. Once the building is complete, the shop will go back to its earlier location.
The concept – right from outside the shop, a high pedestal is visible on which 9 lids are kept. Below each lid is a container containing either some gravy or meat in gravy. Below the pedestal angithis (charcoal fired embers) are kept. Depending on which container needs more heat, the angeethis are moved around using a metal hook.
We asked – name is 12 handi but why are there only 9 handi? He said they have discontinued 3 dishes they used to serve earlier – bheja (brain), tongue and khiri (udder).
All items are slow cooked for 10 hours. Result – cartilage becomes soft as marshmallows, bone marrow is extracted with ease, meats become melt in the mouth. Flavours of meat and spices ‘marry’ and become inseparable.
What’s interesting is that every part of the animal is ultilized after the main meat has been sold. This place is not about eating regular goat and beef meat pieces but the rest….except for one item, Nihari
Once an order is placed, the server picks up a piece, adds the different gravies in different proportions ( that’s the trick) and serves.
1. Paya – trotters (better enjoyed as a soup)
2. Sukha (literal meaning ‘dry’) but it has gravy, meat pieces and bone marrow
3. Bhel- a sampler of everything the shop sells, served together ( of course every piece is different in taste, texture)
4. Pichota – meat from the tail area
5. Nalli – a gravy with only bone marrow in it
6. Nihari – meat slow cooked overnight with herbs and spices
We tried everything, being first timers. Inspite of the mix and match of gravies, there is a similarity in the gravies. U need not order all 6. At the end of the post we hv given u our recommendation of what u shud order and in which order u shud hv it.
The shop opens at 5 in the morning and is open till 10. The original shop used to b open only in the mornings as this is essentially morning food – gives good protein and energy to sustain a hard day’s work. Nowadays they r open in the evenings also.
We asked the owner about what time the shop crowds up. He said there is no trend. Everyday is different. However apart from people coming to the shop to sit and eat, there were a lot of people from the neighbourhood who were getting food packed and going.
The interiors was small, had 4 tables that cud seat 4 people each. There was a wash basin in one corner and they provided tissue paper too. They got us bottled water on request, from a neighbouring shop.
Utensils were all made of steel. Spoons were more like soup spoons ( to b precise, they were specialised spoons that were used to feed babies earlier).
Menu card was written on the wall. The owner gentleman was great to talk to. We thoroughly enjoyed our conversation. The young boy who was serving us was quite pissed with us ordering the dishes one by one and not at a go.
Loved the experience. Loved the food.
Detailed description- in case u hv the time to njoy reading:
Two things that stood out from generally what we are used to, in mughalai restaurants – no extra floating oil/ Dalda/ghee, the food was not hot (chilly) at all. Salt was on the lower side in all dishes. In one or two dishes it felt quite less and I believe sprinkling a bit of salt Wud add back more ‘jaan’ to those dishes.
We started with goat paya. This dish was low on salt by design. This dish was super subtle to taste and less salt added to the subtleness. In Jama Masjid delhi area they add juliennes of ginger and finely chopped green chillies to spruce up the taste. They also add more fat to the gravy.
I enjoyed just sipping the paya like a soup, right at the beginning and not tasting anything else. It had intense flavours of goat bone marrow. The spices had individually lost presence but they collectively made a contribution to the dish. With roti this dish Wud seem very bland. With a pinch of salt it might b good with roti. Rate it 4/5
We ordered Nalli imagining it to be a meat piece of Nalli ( like it always is, calf muscle of the animal). What they meant by Nalli here is just the solid chunks of bone marrow in a gravy. Again, low on salt, subtle but flavourful. First timers might not like it and find the texture of bone marrow repulsive. Rate this 3.5/5
Sukha, as mentioned above, (literal meaning ‘dry’) had gravy, meat pieces and bone marrow. Loved the super soft meat pieces and the gravy. Rate it 4.25/5
Pichota was the show stopper. In one stroke it floored us. Unbelievably soft, intense, robust and rustic flavours of beef, unparalleled taste – a memorable dish in itself. I am lacking words to describe this. Unmissable. Rate it 4.95/5
Bhel ( the name was confusing enough) was essentially a mix of everything the shop had to offer – meat pieces, bone marrow, cartilage, paya, in a common gravy. Loved it and rate it 4.5/5
Order one by one to avoid food getting cold on the table.
1. Start with a paya (either beef or goat), have it just like a soup, no roti. Add a pinch of salt if u find it too bland
2. Next Order a bhel. Njoy with roti
3. Order a pichota and njoy with roti
I realized while writing this that we missed the Nihari. In case u try that, pls write ur comments below for everyone to read
U can skip the rest as they get covered anyway
Overall rating of food at surti 12 handi averages out to 4.2/5
Wud love to head bk and get more of my foodie friends here to treat them on a unique cuisine