Mineority by Saby Pune is certainly a minority as far as restaurants in Pune go. The place showcases the cuisine of mining towns from India and the world. The story of miners and their lives is portrayed in detail throughout the restaurant with the help of murals and eclectic art. The place literally transforms you into a different world, allowing you to experience aspects of life in mining towns. Certain motifs like the canary are used in abundance in the interiors, highlighting the historical importance of this little bird to mining.
Before you can enter this enchanting world, be prepared to tackle two flights of stairs. The art on the walls will keep you entertained. And thankfully, these stairs have a railing that you can hold on to.
We visited the place for lunch. Mineority by Saby has a long list of interesting cocktails famously made with 90 ml of liquor. Like the restaurant menu, the cocktails menu is also inspired by Chef Saby’s childhood. Gin features prominently, and many cocktails are based on local liquors from mining towns. I tried a nonalcoholic version of the Mahua…..Mehul, made with muddled mahua flower berries. I have heard of the Mahua liquor and wanted to taste the flowers. The drink was bursting with a strong floral flavor and might be an acquired taste. Mango Berry, another mocktail I tried was sweet, tart and frozen, a great accompaniment to the food.
Mineority by Saby has come up with an interesting concept of lunch served in a tiffin box. Named Miner’s Niramish/Amish Tiffin, or Big Digger’s Niramish/ Amish tiffin, these are the highlight of weekday lunch.
These tiffins are designed like a miner’s lunch box, and actually served in a uniquely designed tiffin box. I don’t know what I liked more, the box itself or the food inside it. Frankly speaking, I have a big aversion to the whole ‘dabba’ concept thanks to cringe worthy memories of eating out of ‘dabbas’ throughout hostel life. The miner’s lunch boxes presented here are nothing like what your mess or canteen might dole out though. It is a classier experience.
The Big Digger’s tiffin box came with a tall glass of chaas, a bowl of salad dressed with mustard or kasundi and two parathas. There were two curries, Daal and a generous portion of pulav or ghee bhat. Mountain Paneer was a rustic green Assamese curry simply made with sliced onions, green chili and a coriander mint paste. Panch Phoran provided the dominant flavor. Kasundi Vegetable Jhal was a mixed vegetable made with pumpkin, potato and cauliflower and a strong kalonji flavor. Based on the name, I was expecting a yellow kasundi style appearance but the mustard or kasundi was toned down in this dish. The Cholar Daal was made with chana and was excellent. Dessert was cookies and cream, a sweet finish to this miner’s repast.
We tried some other dishes off the menu, both Indian and international. Kalimpong Chili Cheese Rolls were light and crispy with a filling of cheese and green chilies. Dusted with red chili powder/seasoning, they can be a zesty start to a meal.
Smoked Jungle Wrapped Paneer is wrapped in a special leaf that comes from Manipur and a chili paste of Bhoot Jholakia (yes, that one). It is a hot dish and the pungent taste of the chili paste is the highlight here. A gooseberry and green chili salsa, almost like a gremolata is served with it.
Open faced green empanada were little pastry shells filled with a saucy vegetable mix topped with cheese. The veggies were overcooked and smothered in sauce. This wasn’t the fresh dish I envisioned.
Another international dish I tried was the Laksa Curry Noodle Bowl. This comes in a generous portion and if you order this, you won’t have to get anything else. I enjoyed the chewy rice noodles in the Laksa, but the thick and creamy broth was a tad heavy. I guess this is a personal preference. I would have loved some fresh flavor like maybe some basil or lemon grass in the soup.
Mineority by Saby has a good variety on the dessert menu. Dehati Cookies and Cream were rustic ginger cookies served with a small container of cream. The Tres Leche Cake was moist and light. Miner’s Dark Devil Cake was of course chocolate!
Well known miners’ dishes like the Cornish pasties or the carbonara (in pizza form) are featured on the menu. So is Bunny Chow. The food is simple and rustic and chilies seem to be the star of every dish. Almost every dish comes sprinkled with red chili powder or seasoning, even the fries. If you like your food to have a kick, you are going to enjoy the food here.
Just the whole idea of planning a restaurant around the theme of mining is so innovative. A visit to Mineority by Saby is not just about food. It is a complete sensory experience, allowing you a glimpse into a community of people you may never actually come across in life, considering the remote places they live in. But you can’t help but be touched by the hardships and challenges they face every day. Maybe you will come away counting your blessings, with a belly full of Chef Saby’s culinary delights.
An afternoon or evening well spent, right?