30 years ago when my grandfather went to Kolhapur and ate the mutton thali at Padma, he set a tradition in the family. Now even after 3 decades, a visit to Kolhapur is incomplete without a wholesome lunch/dinner at this special restaurant called Padma.
From the exterior, Padma looks like a very simple restaurant, but in the inside, there's something cooking. It's nothing extravagant, but a mere gastronomic delight of meat and spices that have blended so perfectly that even the cooks here can use blindfolds while preparing it.
I experienced a sudden burst of emotions as I took my first bite of chapati and soft meat drenched in a secret gravy. For years the cooks here have maintained the same taste, and yet I feel that it tastes a notch higher when I visit here every year.
While the traditional mutton gravy pleases your taste buds with its heavenly taste, the fried mutton here is an absolute wonder too. The meat is shallow-fried and served in a thick gravy. The taste of both these dishes is alleviated further by the slowly cooked meat fat, which I think is the key to this extraordinary taste.
It may feel as if the mutton dishes do the job for you, but wait for the iconic Tamda-Pandhra Rassa (Red-White Curry). It's like a broth cooked from the meat and seasoned with various spices and flavours. Unless you have this combination of red-white curry, your meal is incomplete.
It's a myth that Kolhapuri cuisine is very spicy but in fact, it's more about the taste and the unique blend of different spices. And Padma represents it in a very authentic and traditional manner.
Tradition or legacy is like a giant dictionary that we use to find meaning in life. Without this dictionary, life won't be as tasty as that mutton thali.