To the uninitiated, a Gulf Kid is an NRI brat who has spent their formative years in one of the many Middle Eastern countries, usually characterized by their annual trips to India, suitcases filled with Tang and Toblerone and most importantly their keen, almost haughty insistence on how their neighbourhood cafeteria makes the best shawarma/falafel and the Indian counterparts pale in comparison.
It’s a habit I have not been able to shake despite being in India the last 5 years, so if I get a delivery from a local falafel place, they invariably have big shoes to fill. In my head at least.
This is not the first time, I have sampled Falafels’ offerings. My first time, was after a long evening at NCPA a month or two back, and what we had was good enough to warrant a second try. So last weekend, we ordered in some of their fare to munch on while relentlessly changing channels at home. As one usually does.
This is what we got:
Cheesy Zaatar Pita
Zaatar is this zesty, savoury and nutty dry rub that if used in its authentic sense, can give life to khubz or pita in a mere spoonful. And it’s been years since I’ve got to have some, so I was really looking forward to it. Sadly, the use of it in this dish was so minimal, that I could barely taste it, and it was completely overpowered by the salty cheese generously sprinkled atop. And honestly, if I only wanted cheese on pita bread, I wouldn’t have to order it in. Quite a letdown.
Lebanese Caesar Salad with Zaatar Croutons
It is difficult to go wrong with a Caesar salad, to be honest. This was strictly average and the labneh was a nice touch. I did however request for the dressing on the side, but they were not able to do so since all their salads are premixed (resulting in instant sogginess). And again, the Zaatar croutons didn’t taste of Zaatar at all.
Original Falafel in a Wholewheat Pita
This was the only thing we had earlier tried, and thankfully true to expectation did not disappoint. The hummus is creamy, and the falafels are generous in number and crispy, and the pita is thick enough to take all the fillings without coming apart. Definitely the best dish we ordered, and by a large margin.
Note: Their falafels are served with this tiny, unassuming pack of schug sauce on the side. And the creamy orange colour may throw you off, but this sauce packs a punch. Two drops of it is unadulterated spice, so to anyone who thinks of spreading it on liberally, you have been warned.
To sum it up, I am still on my mini quest to find a place in Bombay with Zaatar laced dishes I can savour, but should a Gulf Kid (or anyone else), want a decent place with a pretty competent falafel, this may just live up to it.