Garment shops are a ubiquitous feature near Mumbai’s railway stations. But Sera Ladies Fashion has a history like no other. Located in Santacruz’s labyrinthine Sai Bazar Shopping Centre, the outlet is still remembered for having once been a Mangalore store. Ask anyone around where ‘Sera Ladies Fashion’ is, and you’re likely to draw blank looks. Ask where ‘Mangalore General Stores’ is, and you’ll be directed without any hesitation.
Owner Nitin Mascarenhas takes it in his stride. Mangalore General Stores (MGS) was, after all, central to Mumbai’s legacy — even if few know about it. The Mahim branch of MGS, which still stands, was the city’s first ever Mangalore store. Established in 1952 by Nitin’s father Louvis Basil Salvadore Mascarenhas, MGS stockpiled Mangalore-centric goods like sandige (fryums) and matti gulla (white brinjal) that one would be hard-pressed to find in Mumbai.
“My father first opened the shop on Cadell Road. But the building which housed it was illegal and later demolished by the BMC. He was on the streets – literally,” recounts Mascarenhas. What happened next, he reckons, may be nothing short of divine providence. “Someone advised him to go to St. Michael’s and do nine novenas on nine Wednesdays. And sure enough on the eighth Wednesday, my father was informed that a building opposite Paradise Cinema had a shop for rent. We’ve been here ever since,” he smiles.
Mangalore is home to Kannadigas, Tulus, Konkanis, Christians and Muslims. And the bevy of items you’ll find in a Mangalore store reflects this. There’s the Tulu kori rotti (crisp rice wafers with chicken curry) and traditional Konkani pickles like appemidi (a tender mango exclusive to Karnataka), ambade (hog plum) and keerlu (bamboo shoot). Then there are hot sellers such as kele halvo (banana halwa) and sweet potato, jackfruit and banana chips.
Sannas, a toddy-infused idli, and kuswar (Christmas goodies) are favourites with Mangalorean Christians, Mascarenhas says. And Mangalore pickles are unique in that they don’t use oil. “The sap of the appemidi mango is a natural preservative. This pickle doesn’t spoil for years,” he adds. Also on offer is Mysore pak, mirsaange happolu (papads made from Bedgi chillies), patrado (savoury colocasia leaf rolls), turmeric leaves for delicacies like patoli (sweet rice pancakes) and provisions like red rice and coconut oil. The list is endless.
Read the full report at DNA