Mutton-Bhakri is big business in Pune and surrounding areas. It’s become a business model of sorts – start a modest restaurant along one of the several highways connected to the city, put up huge flex boards for at least a km either side of the restaurant and bring in unsuspecting travelers wanting that ‘authentic taste’ as advertised. Most of these places shut down within a year or two, making way for someone else to try out the same model. I don’t need to tell you the reason for them wrapping up the business so quickly!
Hotel Jagdamba was one such place I heard about from a few friends. I ignored it the first few times however I kept hearing and reading about it for a while. So on a fine Sunday afternoon while returning to Pune from Chiplun, my friends and I decided to stop by for a meal.
We reached the hotel around 3.30 pm and found the place completely full with a 20 min wait time. Once we were seated in the outside section, we ordered the Special Mutton Bhakri Thali. Mind you, the service can be sluggish on weekends so do have some patience.
The Special Mutton Bhakri consists of Aalni (Broth) Soup, Ghee Mutton Fry, Curry, Choice of Jowar (Sorghum) or Bajri (Pearl Millet) Bhakri and Aalni Rice. You can order unlimited servings of curry, bhakri and rice.
First came the Aalni Soup. The soup was tasty and rich. It has the right amount of spices and prepares your taste buds for the onslaught of mutton bhakri. Wish the soup was a little warmer when served!
After a long gap (at least what it seemed like), some empty plates were laid out on the table. Hotel Jagdamba sees so many customers over the weekend, that they’ve set up a proper factory model for their most popular dishes. There are guys designated to place clean plates and cutlery on the tables, few guys to clean up, few guys will only make runs to the kitchen to bring in the various dishes in small portions so multiple tables can be served at one go. It’s a well thought out process, that shows the commitment to the business 🙂
Bowls of mutton fry came in next. Colour, texture and aroma were on point. Quantity seemed a bit low (more on that later). Bhakris came in right after. They were LOADED in ghee, LOADED. That first bite of a ghee loaded hot bhakri is simply delightful.
The jigsaw was complete and I went silent for the next 40 odd minutes. Yes, I was hungry but damn, that mutton bhakri was F-A-N-T-A-S-T-I-C. It’s flavourful and not unnecessarily spiced up. The bottomless ghee on the bhakri and in the mutton is magical.
About the quantity – yes it’s quite less for a guy like me. But what you should look at is the price point and what comes next. At ₹290, this is one of the cheapest Mutton Bhakri you’ll get to eat so there’s value for money. And if you don’t know what Aalni Rice is (like me, until that day), the mutton quantity is just fine.
We were about to order in an extra portion of Mutton Fry, when my friend asked me to try the Aalni Rice first. Little did I know, that the real star of Hotel Jagdamba wasn’t the mutton, but it was this rice. Supremely rich broth rice, loaded with ghee (of course!) with bits of liver sprinkled on top. This was completely out of a foodie’s dream sequence. The joyous feeling that I experienced after taking the first spoonful of this divine preparation was rare, even for a foodie like me.
Hotel Jagdamba is not one of those Mutton Bhakri places where you need a couple of soft drinks to go with your food. They mean business and have worked out a system to maintain quality, consistency and serve hundreds of customers in a 4 hour window. Pricing is justified and on the lower end compared to similar places in Pune. Expect a 30 min wait time on weekends but the good news is that they should have 2x-3x their current seating capacity soon, at the same location (just 40 min drive from Kothrud).
Is it the best Mutton Bhakri available in Pune and surrounding areas? When it comes to food, ‘The Best’ is very dynamic. At the moment, this is definitely the best Mutton Bhakri I know of in & around Pune.