Travelogue

Searching for gastronomic nirvana among Mumbai’s iconic eateries

*This is Part 1 of a 3 part series on ‘Searching for gastronomic nirvana among Mumbai’s iconic eateries’ and follows my journey through the Irani food scene in Mumbai’s Marine Lines and Churchgate area. Rest of the series following shortly. 


Mumbai is the proud foodie capital of India. It is a place where newly sprung street food-carts and Michelin starred restaurants both have established patrons and equal following. It is a place where commoners and Bollywood (India’s film industry) stars alike go to same eateries when craving piping hot food well past midnight. It is a place where all wallet sizes have choice of national and international cuisines. It is a place where one can have Belgian waffles for breakfast, sushi for lunch, samosas or macaroons for high tea, Mughlai kababs for dinner and Oreo shakes or Kulfi for desert.  C & I decided to be tourists in our country and being the foodie’s that we are, planned a gastronomical overindulgence trip in Mumbai. Our target? Follow our well-curated list of mostly South Mumbai’s iconic eateries and stuff ourselves with delicacies. Challenge on!

Mumbai gastronomy www.dottedglobe.com
C and I searching for gastronomic nirvana among Mumbai’s iconic eateries.

We took the Deccan Queen to Mumbai and alighted from the train at CST. Our first target was the region around Metro cinema in Marine Lines area. We pieced our route as we walked based on childhood memories (C attended cricket summer camps in the area as a teenager) and general direction sense (I have an excellent one, and love to boast about it!) We walked with purpose; we had been through our list and plan so many times that the destinations were firmly etched in our minds. Most of the eateries on our list had been around for generations and had successfully weathered changing taste buds and lifestyles. Their menus were the subject of mouthwatering discussions for Mumbaiites since decades and we were eager to partake in their highly recommended dishes.

Our first stop was the celebrated Kyani and Co, a part and parcel of Mumbai’s legendary Irani food scene, established in 1904. Their vast menu features exactly 308 items and going through it is a delight in sensory confusion. We ordered the highly recommended brun maska with Irani masala Chai and some mutton samosas. As we waited for our order to arrive I couldn’t help but notice the tranquility around us. The patrons were mostly relaxed college-goers or retirees, intent on having an undisturbed brunch. They were far removed from hustle-bustle typically associated with Mumbai. The hissing steam of boiling tea intermittently broke the friendly silence. Previously I had been here on weekends and it was boisterous beyond words; we were lucky to appreciate it on a calm week day. The samosas were crunchy and tasty albeit lukewarm. The brun maska were plain old bread butter masquerading under a fancy name. The masala chai on other hand was a heavenly concoction of cardamom, cinnamon and a discernible hint of ginger and totally made my day. We also ordered the delicious lemon barley and Duke’s raspberry soda which for some reason can be found only in Mumbai’s Irani eateries.

Then we walked over to Parsi Dairy Farms for some kulfi. The walk was through buildings of old colonial Bombay with streets bearing distinctly Parsi names like Bomanji Master Lane and Dr Cawasji Hormusji Street. Parsi owned shops, homeopathy stores and Fire temples lined the streets. I could see elderly Parsi women dressed in traditional clothes going out for shopping. I had never been to this part of Mumbai before and it was fascinating. The Parsi Dairy farm established in 1916 is one of the oldest Parsi dairies in Mumbai. This institution was going to close its doors in 2015 but social media outrage increased patrons and at the time of our visit the place seemed to be doing well. It looked recently redecorated and had cool unique seating with milk can inspired stools. C’s malai kulfi was exquisite. I ordered the mango kulfi which was equally sublime with little pieces of mango in it. The sweets also looked tempting, the place is definitely worth several visits.

Mumbai gastronomy www.dottedglobe.com
Marine Drive promenade with its breathtaking views of the Arabian Sea and Mumbai’s skyline.

With the delicious taste of kulfi in our mouth, we started the long walk under the midday sun to Marine Drive. We were soon walking on the Marine Drive promenade with its breathtaking views of the Arabian Sea and Mumbai’s skyline and pigeons fluttering by. Our destination was the old Irani style café of Stadium restaurant, named after its location bang opposite the Brabourne Stadium. We ordered kheema pav and some fresh lime juice and soda. The kheema was perfectly spicy and served hot; the peas were an interesting addition. Mopping the spicy kheema gravy with soft buttered bread on a famished stomach was pure nirvana, and C & I thoroughly enjoyed the experience. The restaurant had the same bare bones décor and old dilapidated feel that Kyani & Co or a dozen other Irani cafes in the city share. As I stirred and sipped on my fresh lime juice I felt ridiculously happy for the existence of these simple eateries where food is the star of the show.

*This is Part 1 of a 3 part series on ‘Searching for gastronomic nirvana among Mumbai’s iconic eateries’ and follows my journey through the Irani food scene in Mumbai’s Marine Lines and Churchgate area. Rest of the series following shortly. 

I visited the mentioned eateries in January 2017

3 COMMENTS
  • Sameer Sharangpani
    Reply

    Food for thought 🙂

  • Globejamun
    Reply

    Wow I’m from mumbai and absolutely loved reading this. 😊😍 gonna catch up on part 2 and 3 of the series

  • Lisa K
    Reply

    Food sounds delicious and your photos are superb quality:)

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