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Pot Luck

Friday, December 03, 2010

Mumbai is a melting pot of culture and cuisine. But if you don’t know where to get the most authentic regional food Rhea Dhanbhoora and Samreen Samad help you pick the best places

India is a mixed bag of cultures, which is a good thing when it comes to food options. We can choose the best food from the best places in the city. But how do we know whether it’s the most authentic? How do we know that the thaali we love is up to the mark unless you ask a Gujarati for his expert opinion? That sambhar you love may not be sambhar to a South Indian, and the Sali-boti you relish may be rubbish to a Parsi.

To get the best and most authentic food, the easiest thing to do is talk to people who know best. We spoke to a few people from different cultures to tell you exactly where to get the best of any and every sort of food.

South Indian food is really popular in the city. There’s a wide range of options stemming beyond the popular idli, dosa and sambhar although those are the most popular. There’s a lot of rice with this food, along with delicious lentils, vegetables and grains, and with chutneys and pickles to die for. Papad is also a South Indian favourite. Most dishes are made from coconut and rich spices.

The Best Pick CR Gopalakrishna, a resident of Andheri, says that Mani's in Matunga is the best place for South Indian food in the city. “People usually recommend Madras Cafe, but I feel it’s not as authentic because it caters to a more cosmopolitan crowd. Mani’s, however, is very authentic. The food is good and I'd recommend the pongal, idlis and bisibela bath to anyone who visits the place,” he says.

Where Mani’s: Plot No 153, Mhaskar Building, Matunga

GUJARATI: Panchvati Gaurav

While the typical thali consists of roti, daal, rice and shaak (a dish of different vegetables and spices which are stir fried) there’s more to Gujarati food than just that. The food is distinctively sweet, salty and spicy at the same time and includes staples such as chaas, homemade pickles, kichdi and more.

The Best Pick “The best Gujarati food is definitely at Panchvati Gaurav!” Shaheen S says. “Asha Bhonsale and Lata Mangeshkar were spotted eating there. The Gujarati Thali is tasty, non-oily and has a good variety of options. It’s definitely value for money at `240 for a thali.”

Where Panchvati Gaurav, Near Liberty Cinema, Marine Lines

Influenced by the Portuguese colonialism, be prepared for some intense flavour with Goan food. Goan sausages may be the most common but the cuisine is not complete without fish. Seafood, coconut milk, rice and paste are the main ingredients. Similar to Konkani or Malvani cuisine, the seafood heavy diet is a heady mix of spices and flavours.

The Best Pick Lisa Vegas, who lives in Versova says, “You get good Goan food at City Kitchen in town. It’s a family run place with authentic Goan Catholic food. They’re famous for their Sheet Khodi which is curry rice in Konkani. Goa Portugesa in Mahim also has really nice balchao and xacuti besides the normal goan curry and rice.”

Where City Kitchen: 310, Shahid Bhagat Singh Road, Frere Road, Ballard Estate

A craving for chicken farcha (fried chicken), patra ni machhi (steamed fish wrapped in banana leaf) or lagan nu custard (similar to caramel custard) means you’re probably a big fan of Parsi food. For a small community, they sure are large on the food front.

The Best Pick Marzban D. says, “I’d go to Britannia for a really good Parsi lunch. It’s open only in the afternoons but it’s worth it. They’re really famous for their Berry Palao, but all their other dishes are really great as well. Even Jimmy Boy is good, but I prefer Britannia.”

Where Café Britannia:
Wakefield House, Sprott Road, Opposite New Custom House, Ballard Estate

Our state’s home food, Maharashtrian cuisine covers a range of mild to very spicy dishes. The diet includes meats, seafood and vegetables with rice or roti. Popular dishes include things such as gadichi poli (unleavened bread that’s flat and made of wheat), Bhakri (bread made from millets like bajra) and puran poli, modak and the ever so famous batata wada.

The Best Pick “For a full fledged non vegetarian dinner head to Highway gomantak. The three main dishes there that you have to try are the sukka mutton, prawns fry and mackerel curry,” says Dadar resident Niranjan Mangaokar.

Where Highway Gomantak: Highway Service Road, 44/2179, Gandhi Nagar, Behind Maratha Store, Bandra (E)

SINDHI: Bharat Tarachand
Sindhi food is greatly influenced by Pakistani cuisine. The names of the dishes may be a bit funny such as koki, lolo, loli but the food is to die for. As popularly as the community is known for eating papad, it has a lot more to offer. Sindhi curry (chick pea flour and vegetables like lady fingers, potatoes and eggplant), tiki dal khichadi (thin yellow pulses served with variation of rice), seyal bhaji, Phote waro Tivan (Lamb meat in cardamom) and more.

The Best Pick Rohit Bhijlani tells us, “I love the Sindhi curry at Bharat Tarachand. Also, their pakwaan dal and ochi pachari is great. I get my sweets from Jhama Chembur.”
Where Bharat Tarachand: 69/75 Zaveri Bazaar, Kalbadevi


The small, low profile community expands tremendously when it comes to food. Influenced by Rajasthani, Gujarati and Moghlai cuisine, it has a large variety of food items to offer. The meals include kharas (starters), meethas (dessert) and jaman (main course). Khichda, palidu, dabba gosht, mutton tikka are the most famous food items.

The Best Pick Santa Cruz resident, Zehra Merchant says, “I prefer ordering from caterers because I’m not sure if there any restaurants that serve authentic bohri food. I love the Chattriwala, Goga and Jeff. They have great cocktail biryani, chicken tikka and kababs.”
Where Jeff: 143 A, End Of Bazar Road, Single Sutter Near Medical, Bandra (West)

North Indian: Khyber
North Indian food is majorly influenced by Mughal cooking techniques. North Indian food is supposed to be rich with spices, oil and saffron. Most dishes consist of mutton and paneer. Samosas and pakodas are the most popular items.
The Best Pick Bandra resident, Vineet Singh says, “According to me, Khyber located at Fort in Mumbai is the best North Indian cuisine restaurant. It is typically Mughlai and the food is heavenly. You must try their biryani.”
Where Khyber: 145, M G Road, Opposite Jehangir Art Gallery, Fountain

Punjabi: Urban Tadka
We all love Punjabi food. Who hasn’t heard about the sarso ka saag and makhe di roti! Punjabi food is a bit on the heavy side but that’s what makes it so yummy! It’s rich in ghee and butter. Parathas and dairy products part of their staple diet.

The Best Pick Sucheta Sharma says, “I really like the food at Urban Tadka, their paneer mataar masala is exceptionally good. And I find it quite authentic.”
Where Urban Tadka: Shiv Shopping Centre, Junction Of Bon-Bon Lane & Juhu, Versova Link Road, Versova

No matter what kind of food you’re palate is craving for, you now know the best places to get it. So go ahead and indulge in some ‘authentic’ food for a true taste of culture.

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