Vaishali Restaurant Pune – Home of The SPDP

Cuisine: South Indian, Chaat
Location: View Google Map
gpsAddress: Fergusson College Road, Ganeshwadi, Shivajinagar, Pune.
Vaishali restaurant

Vaishali restaurant is an old Poona institution. Poona is the pre-independence British name given to the city. This was changed back to Pune in 1978, but the word Poona still evokes nostalgia and fond memories for many people. Some things defined the old Poona way of life – the chicken roll at Marzorin, buff burger at the original Burger King (now called ‘Burger – Since 1989’ after the American chain Burger King put a court case against them). Shrewsbury biscuits at Kalyani & Co, Wine biscuits at City Bakery, Hi tea at Poona Club. Chai and Broon butter at Diamond Queen and Cafe Yezdan, Cheese omelette at Vohuman Cafe, Gravy ma cutlet at Goodluck Cafe, Dhansak at Dorabjee and Sons. Chelo kebab at George, Raan biryani at Blue Nile, Steak escalope at Touche The Place. And SPDP at Vaishali.

The old Poona used to be a sleepy retirement town with a great vibe and friendly people. Even today many shops in the older parts of Pune shut between 1-4pm in the afternoon. Poonawallas take their siesta very seriously. Some old houses still have boards outside saying “No Disturbance Between 2pm to 4pm”. The new Pune is now a bustling busy metropolis and has spread out to a large extent, but one can still see flashes of the Old Poona in the the traditional areas like Camp, Deccan Gymkhana and the 17 peths.

SPDP at Vaishali Restaurant

I first visited Vaishali in 2012 when I was setting up the Olive bar and kitchen restaurant inside Poona Club and was living in Pune at that time. The SPDP was described as Sev Puri Dahi Puri in the menu, in those days. I went back after 12 years and the place was exactly the same. I’m yet to see a restaurant as busy as Vaishali across all meal periods (except perhaps Paradise in Secunderabad). You’ll have to wait at least 20 minutes for a table. Doesn’t matter if you go at 6am in the morning or at 10pm at night or anytime in between (12 years ago, I tried this in all meal periods. I’m sure not much has changed). Weekdays waiting time is atleast 20 minutes and weekends are usually more. And this’s a fairly big restaurant, around 175-200 seater.

You’ll find SPDP being served on almost all tables. Nowadays the description says Sev Potato Dahi Puri. Sev Batata (potato in Marathi) would’ve been more apt, but SPDP has been around for long. Unlike Bombay’s Dahi Puri, which is made using the regular paani puri shell, SPDP is made using the flat puri of the Sev Puri, along with boiled potatoes, spices and topped with sweetened yoghurt. I would’ve preferred less sweet and more spices in the dish, but I guess that’s how Vaishali regulars like it.

Vaishali restaurant

The Sambar at Vaishali

The Ghee Masala Dosa was crisp, big in size and had an excellent texture. The potato filling was smaller compared to the dosa, but that’s how Vaishali has been doing for many years. What struck me at Vaishali was the sambar. It looked like the regular Bombay Shetty restaurant sambar, but was different. It wasn’t sweet at all, nor did it have any tamarind. More like an adaptation to local Central Pune tastes, which people seems to love and crave. Vaishali is an institution in Pune and definitely worth a visit, if you’re in the city.

Vaishali restaurant

Happy hunting and chowder on!

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