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Highway Cravings: Terrano Food Trails

We drive from Mumbai to Delhi to find out whether the authentic Indian dhaba still exists

I have a theory — that the dhaba is dead. You know, the real dhaba — the one with the colourful lights, found on the side of dusty highways filled with truckers resting their tired bones on wooden khats, sipping some warm chai (or cold lassi, depending on the weather, of course), with bollywood’s latest “superhit” item song blaring somewhere in the distance. Now I’ve done my fair share of driving and when I think back, all I can recall are sterile restaurants and hotels speckled along the highways where the dhabas used to be. Gaurav, on the other hand, disagrees. He says that there are plenty, provided you look hard enough. Challenge accepted.

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Parsi da Dhaba doesn’t count as a true-blue dhaba

With  the Auto Expo around the corner, we were going to be driving the long, arduous 1500km from Mumbai to Delhi and well, we weren’t going to get a better opportunity to put our theories to the test. Apart from Gaurav and I, we had our design genius Aslam, and newly recruited colleague Anand Krishnan along for the ride. And since there were now four, and Aslam insisted on carrying his desktop computer all the way to Delhi, we needed an SUV up to the task. We needed something spacious and comfortable, and completely at home, covering ground on long, straight highways – and the Nissan Terrano it was. Time to hunt down some dhabas then.

We began from Pune early in the morning –we weren’t interested in any of the eateries the Mumbai-Pune expressway had to offer – the food courts along the way are the complete antithesis of the original dhaba so we were going to give them a pass. Plus we wanted to be in and out of Mumbai before all hell broke loose on its streets. The hunt really began once we were out of Mumbai. Cross the bridge to Vasai and bang on the right you are greeted with a large signboard with Kinara Dhaba stamped on it in bold.


About the author

Aatish Mishra

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