Mumbai has long been a transit point, a universe marked by the influences of communities from within India and around the world. Immigrants have flooded the city, imprinting their culinary culture into its kitchens; Stalls selling the city’s iconic vada pao sit across from rare colonial-era clubs, Indian-style Chinese fare is on the menu with Chicken a la Kiev and the ubiquitous chicken tikka like pizza. This extremely brief list of restaurants is a personal tribute to its past and future.
Of course, the top headline at Ram Ashray is the dosa, with a selection of lace-thin Mysore, onion, and rava (grape dough) varieties. But venture beyond the obvious, and you’ll be rewarded with a host of other Mangalorean breakfast specialties—goli bajje, crispy, chewy doughnuts; cake (fried banana powder); and a glass of bubbly filter coffee next to it. For this you may have to stay away from the touristy trails, but it will be well worth it – nothing on the menu costs more than Rs 100.
Soam drew a noisy crowd, chatting, laughing, waiting, gobbling up his superbly cooked Gujarati. Start your main course with thick, crispy kand na chilla (purple yam pancakes); farsan plate—a round of Gujarati snacks served in thali, topped with a succulent golden spinach samosa with cheese. Then order fada ni khichdi, a dish made of broken wheat washed with ghee. To finish, twists of jalebi, crispy and sweet.
Olympia coffee shop
When you wake up late with the taste of last night’s tequila still lingering in your throat, there’s really only one thing that can wash it off for me and that’s breakfast at Olympia Coffee House. At Olympia, the chef’s Midas touch extends to all things meaty — biryani, kebab, khichda, paya. Try the kheema, minced lamb mixed with peas and carrots, lightly seasoned and simmered into an almost luscious sauce, served with white bread to soak up the gravy.
ON THE ROAD
Gupta Chaat Center / Chowpatty Beach or Juhu
Bhelpuri, an iconic snack often considered a metaphor for the city, is a lively combination of potatoes, onions, puri (deep-fried flatbread), puffed rice, and sweet and sour chili sauce. and spicy topping it all, with a little MSG. sev (thin strands of fried chickpea flour like a hair) on top. This is a working-class, immigrant dish, especially popular as a beachside snack, sold by street vendors on Chowpatty and Juhu beaches. For a more enticing option, you may want to try your pick at the Gupta Chaat Center.
Chef Niyati Rao’s menu is ingredient-led and relentlessly international, combining familiar flavors or textures while blending them with a touch of whimsy. For example, the Petrichor, a mezcal-infused tequila cocktail made with young coconut, intimate amla and sandalwood, becomes an homage to the fragrance released by the early rains. Or potatoes, sliced, baked, fried, then covered with a lemon and chili seasoning. The menu changes seasonally, so there’s always something new to look forward to.
IF NO DAMAGE
It was a bit of a thrill to stumble across this unassuming cafe in the tangled streets of the Fort neighborhood. For a chance to explore the world of delicious Parsi* food, try the creamy akuri (spiced scrambled eggs), pulao dal or Sali boti (dark, sticky meat, with a crispy potato crust). But on Tuesdays they make Parsi-style curry rice, on Wednesdays they have titori (bitter vaal beans) and on Saturdays they have rail lamb (a slow-cooked lamb and potato dish) — rarely available. outside the family kitchen.
*Zoroastrian immigrants from Iran washed up on Indian shores more than a millennium ago.
START ME UP
Cafe Kala Ghoda
Kala Ghoda Café started out as one room, but it was gradually divided into three rooms (including a bar in the back). Treat their cortado (or espresso or cappuccino) as an appetizer to their delicious breakfast dishes — pora (masala omelet), upma (a batter of semolina), dough pancakes oats and a variety of waffles; there’s even a mix of amaranth, millet and brown rice flour.
Appearance can be deceiving
At Highway Gomantak, skip the decor; seafood is the thing. I can tell you about its lamb masala, which is deep fried. Or I can tell you about its mandeli, small fish that are fried until they reach a crisp crisp. I can even tell you about jawla kismur, a Goa dish made with small dried shrimp. But what I really love is the richly spiced fish — bangda, rawas, pomfret, bombil, lepa, halwa, surmai — grated through a mountain of tapioca, then deep-fried.
Came here to take a small refuge in the food of his home state, Maharashtra. While the menu features a wide variety of Indian dishes, the restaurant’s heart lies in the familiar Maharashtrian main course—the snack kothimbir vadi (ribboned chickpea flour patties with coriander); bhat, a simple yellow rice and dal; bharli wangi, eggplant marinated with bhakri; satay, chickpeas and potatoes drenched in a spicy gravy with spices, then covered with crispy farsan; and kharvas, a confection made from bovine colostrum.
DO IT FAST
Tibb’s candid fire engine-shaped red kiosks cross the streets of the city, the brainchild of Amarjit Singh Tibb and his wife, who sought to create an Indian version of shawarma. . Frankie is masala meat wrapped in an egg naan roll—usually chicken and lamb but veggie versions are also available. Satisfying and quick to serve, frankie is the go-to dish to eat while traveling through the city.
ONE FOR FEMALE FOOD
At The Bombay Canteen, the food is a creative homage to India’s diverse cuisine, bound by no borders or traditions — Khasi-style pork ‘tacos’, gulab jamun soaked in Old Monk , Tandoori lamb chops served with garlic chili sauce and caper leaf chimichurri, liver pate seasoning with some kokum (a sour-tasting fruit) jelly and young vinegar, served on a milk bun. The focus is on locally sourced, seasonal dishes and ingredients. The decor, with its art deco elements, shows windows with summer light flooding in, traditional patterned tiles and rattan chairs that are reminiscent of sluggish, old Mumbai life.