Mumbai has an incredible number of restaurants, and if you are first-time visitor, it can be hard to know where to go or what to eat. If you want to try the local fare, the task becomes even more difficult, as Indian cuisine isn’t homogenous; each region or tribe has its own delicacies, and many of these groups have names that you may never have heard of: Parsi, Marathi, Bengali, Punjabi. So where do you start? Here are our three picks for different cuisines that you must try when in Maximum City.
Parsi is an ethnic group originating from Persia that’s part of the Zoroastrian religion. Mumbai has been a hub for Parsi immigrants for centuries, and the cuisine is revered for its bold flavors. Parsi dishes generally include a lot of meat, eggs, fruit and are rice based. A local icon and by far the favorite place to experience Parsi cuisine in Mumbai is at Britannia & Co. This unassuming restaurant is located in the Fort business district, and has been satisfying Mumbaikars for three generations. With the delightful 90-some-year-old owner Boman Kohinoor entertaining guests, it is not just the food that makes this lunchtime venue worth visiting (make sure you ask him about his brush with royalty). Don’t miss the berry pulao, which is the signature dish of spiced rice, meat (usually chicken or mutton) and Irani zeereshk berries, and the Bombay duck, which is actually a fish called bombil or bummalo, a local delicacy that resembles a duck and is often sundried.
With its crystal-blue ocean, sandy beaches and, of course, fabulously fresh seafood, Goa is one of the most popular holiday destinations for Mumbaikars. Locals also like Goan cuisine because it gives them a little taste of holiday without leaving the city. Goan food is a unique blend of Indian and Portuguese flavors, combining sweet coconut, sour tamarind and plenty of chillies. From spicy clams to the delicate flavors of a tender coconut-cashew sukke or arroz (rice) with fresh calamari and flakes of fish stirred throughout, Goa Portuguesa, which has two restaurants in Mumbai, is a prime stop for seafood fanatics.
Mumbai is located in the state of Maharashtra, so no visit to the city would be right without trying the local specialty. Maharashtrian (or Marathi) cuisine is quite varied, reflecting the different regions of the state. There is the Konkan influence of the coast, which features fresh seafood, coconuts and nuts, and there is the cuisine of the interior, which is based around wheat, rice and plenty of fresh vegetables. There are many Marathi restaurants in Mumbai, such as the local favorite Prakash Restaurant in midtown Dadar that serves home-style food from vatana batata (potatoes and peas either cooked in a tomato gravy or mashed together into a patties) to sabudana khichdi (a pudding made from potatoes, peanuts and local grains such as a sago seeds). For a slightly more up-market meal, head to Diva Maharashtracha in the Western suburb of Mahim for spicy palak batata (spinach and potato) soup or, my favorite, the barlela khekde (stuffed crab). Wash it down with a solkhadi, a spicy drink made from coconut milk and kokum (a sour, berry-like fruit).
Photos Courtesy of Diva Maharastracha and Goa Portuguesa