Mumbai (Gourmet Chick in India)

Mumbai was the city which really summed up India for me.  In Mumbai cows graze right next to luxury hotels and women emerge from the dirt of the streets clad in immaculately clean saris.  Each day, hundreds of kids play cricket on a dirt oval in the shadow of grand Victorian architecture while tiffin wallahs set out by bicycle across the city to deliver business men home cooked lunches.  It’s a city of contrasts and Mumbai’s food reflects that.  There are modern fine dining restaurants, old school cafes which are relics of the city’s colonial past and tiny street side stalls.  It was a feast, in every sense of the word.
 
There are hundreds of cricket games on the go every day in Mumbai – this is Oval Maidan


Britannia Cafe
One of Mumbai’s last Parsi cafes Britannia is a crumbling testament to the city’s past.  The restaurant first opened in 1923 and elderly owner Boman Kohinoor still meets and greets each patron.  Diners eat in a high ceilinged room underneath whirring fans and flaking paint.  The signature dish has been the same for years, the berry pulao (R300).  Fluffy rice is flecked with tender chicken and studded with sweet cranberries, a classic combination of flavours.

Details: Wakefield House 11, 16 Sprott Rd., Ballard Estate, Mumbai, 400038 +91 (0) 22 22615264.  Only open for lunch 12-4.  Closed Sundays.
Damage: Reasonable
9/10

The berry pulao at Cafe Britannia

Masala Kraft
Masala Kraft offers Indian fine dining from chef Hermant Oberoi in the opulent setting of the Taj Palace Hotel. The food is top notch with highlights including a khushk raan and the masala sea bass.  The khushk raan (R1500)  was a whole leg of lamb slow cooked until tender and served in a glistening broth while the masala sea bass (1950) was silky and firm and doused in a rich mango curry.  There was great theatre to be had in a palate cleanser of sugar cane, lime and ginger sorbet which arrived in steaming teapot.

Masala sea bass

For sweet fiends, Masla Kraft’s dessert sampler (R625) is a must with its saffron flavoured kulfi and rich, dark halva topped with flaked almond.  Unlike many restaurants in India, Masala Kraft does actually have a wine list and we particularly enjoyed a bottle of the Villa Avantori, a dry white Italian wine.  The only fault I could pick with our meal was service overkill at times with constant refilling of wine glasses and questions as to how the meal was.  The waiters were certainly attentive but perhaps a little too keen.  Overall this was the best experience of high end Indian cooking that I had during my trip to India.

Palate cleanser at Masala Kraft

Details: Masala Kraft, The Taj Mahal Palace and Tower, Mahakavi Bhushan Road, Apollo Bandar, Mumbai, Maharashtra 400001, India (Ph: 022 66653366)
Damage: Budget Breaking but on this occasion I did not pay.
8/10

I was a guest of Masala Kraft for dinner.  

Street food at Bademiya

Bademiya
Only open at night time Bademiya is pure street theatre with its sizzling kebabs and hot charred naan bread all produced out of a small metal stall in a back street behind the Taj Mahal Palace.  The chicken tikka wrap (Rs110) has plump, moist chicken doused with just the right amount of fieriness.

Details: Tulloch road, Mumbai, India.
Damage: Such a bargain my mother would approve
9/10

Chicken tikka masala at Leopold’s

Leopold Cafe
Leopold’s is an institution in Mumbai which is thankfully still going strong despite being one of the targets in the Mumbai terrorist attacks.  Our waiter told us how he was working on the day, escaped death and then was straight back to work when Leopold’s reopened two days later.  So many customers turned up to support the reopening that the police had to shut the restaurant down.   He also proudly told us how Leopold’s featured in the classic travel read Shantaram and produced a photo on his mobile of him with the author Gregory Robertson.  Leopold’s serves up pretty standard Indian food like mild chicken tikka masala (R355) and vegetable korma (R225) but it has a great atmosphere and is a good place to meet fellow travellers alongside locals.

Details: Leopold Cafe, Corner of Colaba Causeway and Nawroji F Road  Mumbai, Maharashtra, India (Ph 022 22020131)
Damage: Reasonable.  Our bill came to R1,700 for two.
6/10

High tea at the Sea Lounge

The Sea Lounge 
Mr MTV has a closet high tea addiction so dragged me along (unwillingly of course) to the Sea Lounge at the Taj Mahal Palace which has an afternoon tea buffet between 4-7pm each afternoon.  With a piano player tinkling away in the background we were plied with a tiered cake stand filled with crustless sandwiches, tarts and the obligatory scones along with silver tipped tea.  The scones and sandwiches both erred on the dry side but the Sea Lounge excelled in its version of chaat, Indian street food, which was described by our waiter as “the hygenic version” and the dessert buffet complete with chocolate fountain.  Goof fun for afternoon tea aficiondos and a taste of colonial India.

Details:  The Sea Lounge, The Taj Mahal Palace and Tower, Mahakavi Bhushan Road, Apollo Bandar, Mumbai, Maharashtra 400001, India (Ph: 022 66653366)
Damage: Pricey.  R2,150 per person.
6/10

New Kulfi Centre
New Kulfi Centre is supposed to serve the best kulfi in Mumbai.  The kulfi is firm and is carefully sliced off a large block and then wrapped in a betel-nut leaf and then weighed on an ancient scale – which makes it even better.

Details: Cnr Chowpatty Seaface and Sardar V Patel Rd, Mumbai, India.
Damage: Such a bargain my mother would approve
7/10

Video review of my room at the Taj Mahal Palace

Gourmet Travel Tips

  • Kingfisher flies from London to Mumbai from £500 return. Flight Centre has flights listed from $1,000 to Mumbai from Australia.  
  • We walked around the city checking out the Victorian architecture and all the kids playing cricket at Oval Maidan.  Chowpatty beach was also great for people watching. 
  • We stayed at the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel as a treat to finish off our time in India.  This legendary hotel really does go above and beyond in terms of service.  When our room was turned down at night special Taj Mahal Palace bookmarks were inserted into any books we were reading and the complimentary afternoon tour of the hotel’s history is a must do.  On the downside, we stayed in the Tower Wing which was cheaper but lacked the grandeur and history of the more expensive main wing.  Check out the very “retro” bathroom in my video review.  Suites start at R8,500 a night (£106/$160). 
Posted by: on March 20th, 2012     10 Comments »

Category: Travel - India
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10 Comments on “Mumbai (Gourmet Chick in India)”

  1. catty said at 4:23 am on March 21st, 2012:

    Amazing! Mumbai (and India in general) has always been such a mystery to me. I want to go so badly, and might just have to organise a trip some time!

  2. Chopinand @ ChopinandMysaucepan said at 2:13 pm on March 21st, 2012:

    Dear Gourmet Chick,

    You must have felt like a Maharaja being in the Taj Mahal palace and surrounded with all that lovely food :)

  3. tori said at 3:29 pm on March 21st, 2012:

    There is so much to love here. 1) MTV’s closet love for high tea. 2) Leopolds- brought back such great memories of reading Shantaram on a beach in Tulum 3) Such a solid summary of where to go in Mumbai. Bookmarking for when we make it there. THANK YOU.

  4. rockincharlotte said at 6:46 pm on March 21st, 2012:

    This could not have been better timed! I am off to Mumbai on Friday! Thank you for this! Looking forward to trying a few of these soon! If you have other recs do let me know! :-)

  5. Andi of My Beautiful Adventures said at 10:07 pm on March 21st, 2012:

    I loooooved Leopolds! And I absolutely LOVED Mumbai and I agree that the city sums up India.

  6. Simon said at 10:27 pm on March 21st, 2012:

    Looks awesome and I’ll with MTV, high is gold.

  7. Alison Sim said at 11:11 pm on March 21st, 2012:

    Sounds so good. I have read so much about India that I wonder if when I finally get there it will live up to my expectations. Certainly sounds like a food journey!

  8. Gourmet Chick said at 11:24 pm on March 21st, 2012:

    Catty – Yes it is just so different. I read something once by AA Gill saying if you were only going to go to one foreign country in your life it should be India.

    Chopin and my Saucepan – Yes I was a bit maharaja like but the budget maharaja in the cheaper rooms. Actually when I convert the room prices into pounds and dollars they don’t seem so bad but in India it seemed like a lot of money.

    Tori – How good is Shantaram? (and the beach in Tulum – sigh)

    RockinCharlotte – Oh I am so jealous. Have a brilliant time. Pretty much all my tips are in this article. Take lots of hand wash as well so you can pig out on street food!

    Simon – Aha another closet high tea fan

    Alison Sim – I would say it is probably the most confronting place I have been, and I have travelled a lot. I know what you mean about having high expectations of a place. I wouldn’t say a holiday to India is relaxing or anything like a traditional holiday but it is a real eye opener and the food is amazing.

  9. Jeanne said at 12:38 pm on March 22nd, 2012:

    Aaah I’ve always wanted to visit India – and I love that your post makes me want to go even more! I love the contrasts you describe. That sorbet steaming in the teapot is one of the best presentations I have ever seen – too fab – and I am entranced by the idea of kulfi sliced off a large block!

  10. Gourmet Chick » Blog Archive » Travel said at 8:19 pm on April 28th, 2013:

    [...] Bademiya; [...]


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