It’s been an exhilarating year on many fronts, and especially for those who follow the food scene in Mumbai. But at the end of 2018, a question does surface – Of all the wonderful meals we’ve savored this year, which are the dishes that have been truly memorable? After pondering on this for a while, here’s my list of the top ones (in no particular order) that wowed me with their brilliance, wooed my tastebuds with their fabulous flavors and made me want to go back for them again and again…
Kashmiri Gucchi at Ummrao, Courtyard by Marriott
Deliciously simple and yet simply delicious. This dish uses guchchi or jumbo morels from Kashmir, the Indian equivalent of French truffles and which are just as exclusive and exquisite, if not quite as expensive. Charred to perfection on the outside and tender as can be inside. This is when rustic luxury meets the rich culinary tradition of Awadhi cooking that Chef Mukhtar Qureshi specialises in.
Where: Courtyard by Marriott Mumbai International Airport
Cts 215, Carnival Cinemas,
Andheri Kurla Road, Andheri East Mumbai
Phone: 022 6136 9999
Guchchi Pulao at Punjab Grill
Meanwhile, Punjab Grill does a scrumptious pulao using these flavour bombs. I had the version that uses barnyard millet or samvat instead of their usual basmati, but I’m sure the rice variant is just as delicious, as it’s part of the regular menu created by Chef Vijay Sethi. The jumbo morels are stuffed with khoya and spiced with shahi jeera. Not to forget the generous lashings of desi ghee, which imbues every bite of the dish with that unmistakable mouth-feel of grandma’s cooking.
Where: Punjab Grill
3rd Floor, Palladium Mall, Senapati Bapat Marg,
Lower Parel, Mumbai, Maharashtra 400013
Phone: 022 4347 3980
Zucchini & Cheddar Rolls at Botanica Café & Diner
It takes a special skill to elevate zucchini to something truly tasty and Chef Santosh Parulekar at this all-vegetarian café does just that. The dainty rolls made of the thinly sliced vegetable pack a fantastic punch thanks to their creamy Cheddar centre. Warning: They can be quite addictive!
Where: Botanica Cafe & Diner
Seth House,Ground floor Opera House,
Girgaon, Mumbai, Maharashtra 400004
Phone: 022 2380 2828
Bandel Cheese Stuffed Chillies at The Bombay Canteen
This is East meets West on a plate. Regional Indian delicacies, I mean. I loved the idea of grilled Bhavnagari chillies stuffed with Bandel cheese from West Bengal. But the way Chef Thomas Zacharias brings the sharp and smokey flavours together and adds the zestiness of Gondhoraj lime to the mix is sheer genius. The chhota appetiser took me right from the sun-baked chilli fields of Gujarat to the tram-filled streets of old Calcutta in one bite.
Where: The Bombay Canteen
Unit-1, Process House, S.B. Road, Kamala Mills,
Near Radio Mirchi Office Lower, Parel, Mumbai, Maharashtra 400013
Phone: 022 4966 6666
Seafood Bisque at Slink & Bardot
The hearty bowlful of a largely clear, slightly cloudy broth is redolent of all the rich aromas of prawn and calamari and clams. Luscious seafood sits on the edge of the pool, allowing its poached flavours to run in happily. Chef Alexis Gielbaum uses a gorgeous creamy rouille made with potato, saffron, garlic, and egg yolk to finish the bisque-like the French do with a bouillabaisse. Not surprisingly, diving into this bit of Marseilles-inspired magic in Mumbai made me happy as a clam.
Where: Slink & Bardot
Thadani House 329/A Opposite Indian Coast Guard Worli Village,
Mumbai, Maharashtra 400030
Phone: 070459 04728
New Zealand Herb-Crusted Lamb Rack at Estella
The red wine-marinated lamb is rubbed with Dijon mustard and crusted with a gremolata of lemon zest, garlic and parsley. This incredibly delicious plate of exquisitely done meat sits on a bed of ratatouille in a pool of the silkiest mascarpone lamb jus I’ve had in a long time. Chef Rohan D’Souza really knows how to take classic recipes and hit them out of the ballpark with the right combinations and innovative juxtapositions.
Nichani Kuttir Building, Juhu Tara Rd,
Chandrabai Nagar, Juhu, Mumbai, Maharashtra 400049
Phone: 079999 98232
Black Marble Sesame Cheesecake at Foo
Is it a slab of concrete? Is it a work of art? Before I tasted this visually stunning dessert, I had a lot of questions. But once I put a spoonful of it on my tongue, all else fell away and I was just mesmerised by the taste of this monochrome wonder. The cheesecake is just the right blend of firm and velvety. The intriguingly grey sauce is far from the bleak street, made exciting with the perfect amount of sweetness and the salty umami-ness of sesame. Black sesame hasn’t been used often enough in Mumbai restaurants so far but now that black is the new black in the food world, perhaps we’ll see more such desserts working their black magic on us! There’s a lot to love about this Asian tapas bar, but the dessert truly rocks.
High Street Phoenix,
Lower Parel, Mumbai- 400013
‘Farsan’ at TrèsInd Mumbai
It’s one of the many courses of the tasting menu that features modern interpretations of delicacies from various regions of India at the brand-new restaurant that’s the outpost of the Dubai mothership. I loved the truly authentic taste of the ice-cream that is Chef Himanshu Saini’s take on Gujarati khandvi. If you’ve ever had the silky savory snack made of gram flour, you’ll know what I mean. Now close your eyes and imagine that same flavour but with the ice-cold creaminess that ice-cream imparts and you’ll know there’s no turning back. A scoop of this deliciousness served along with real khandvi and its usual staple accompaniments – papaya chutney, crisp fafda and a fried green chilli – makes up the whole dish. If this is the ‘Dubai-fication’ of desi khaana, I don’t mind at all!
Where: Trèsind Mumbai
Ground Floor, Inspire, G Block BKC,
Bandra Kurla Complex, Bandra (E), Mumbai- 400051
Phone: 089280 00057
Narangi Shammi at Saffron, JW Marriott Juhu
Chef Abdul Quddus uses his culinary expertise from the heartland to create many authentic traditional dishes. But part of that tradition is also to innovate and I saw it coming to fruition with this vegetarian kebab made with lotus stem and potato with a cunning stuffing of – wait for it – orange! Smooth but with enough texture to sink your teeth into and a fresh flavour that I haven’t had in a kebab before.
Where: Saffron, JW Marriott Juhu
Lower Lobby, JW Marriott, Juhu Tara Road,
Juhu, Mumbai, Maharashtra 400049
Phone: 022 6693 3000
Grilled Butterfly Prawns at TYGR
Pretty to look at but also a treat for the taste-buds, this dish brings together the sweetness of perfectly grilled tiger prawns and a fiery Thai yellow curry cream that also contains shiitake mushrooms and water chestnuts. The creamy coconut milk envelops the prawns beautifully, making me realise that a curry can also be a surprisingly charming element in an appetiser. Well done on this Thai with a twist take, Chef Sahil Singh.
Level 1, Palladium Mall, Maharashtra 400013
Phone: 091369 21735