Inside Bayroute, Cuffe Parade | All The Deets
Mumbai’s food scene has been developing at a rapid pace over the years. We’ve been introduced to cuisines previously unheard of, and the ones that we were already familiar with, have been growing more complex. There’s not much you don’t get in the city, and most cuisines have been either highlighted or bastardized through various iterations. However, one cuisine that has not been explored to its full potential, is Mediterranean. I’m not sure you can count Carter’s Blue as the ultimate destination for Mediterranean food, if that’s what you’re thinking. Other than road-side shawarmas and hummus platters at family restaurants, I hadn’t had the opportunity to explore the vast gastronomic world of Turkish, Egyptian, Lebanese, Moroccan and Greek food here in my own city.
A menu brought to you by Chef Ajay Thakur, who is also the corporate chef behind Hitchki, solves this problem! Chef Ajay has done a lot of travelling around the world thanks to his stint at the cruise company, Carnival. During this period, he learnt and perfected skills from different cultures, and brought back all the new techniques he learnt into the kitchen with him.
Enter Bayroute, located in Cuffe Parade, this restaurant lends a strong voice to South Bombay’s dining scene. Bayroute takes on the task of doing justice to at least five countries from the Middle East and Southern Europe.
While speaking to the Chef, we understood that since the cuisine is fairly new to the city, sourcing ingredient locally has been challenging. Most of the spices and cheeses are sourced from Israel, Turkey, and Dubai. Would that mean tweaking the cuisine to suit an Indian palate? “Perusing the infamous Silk Route, we came across a similarity in regards to ingredients with regards to our own indigenous culture. The recognition of aromas, flavours and food habits almost matched those to which we, as Indians are able to Identify and relate easily with.” Says Chef Ajay.
So, while he may not guarantee an authentic experience, he can, instead promise a great introduction.
Our afternoon began with a chilled glass of Lotus Biscoff flavoured milk, as we surveyed Bayroute’s vast menu. With some help from our server, we were set with our order.
We started with their signature Hummus. This was hands down the creamiest, and most flavourful hummus I’ve ever eaten. The big bowl of hummus came with a generous side of pita bread, pickled vegetables and smoked olives. It was honestly so tasty we had to hold back from licking the bowl clean! We were left on such a high after the hummus, that everything that followed had to fight hard to match up. Next up, were the Kebab Istanbul, and the Harissa Chicken Kebabs.
The Kebab Istanbul was very similar to a seekh kebab, and came with a side of fresh garlic butter mint tahini sauce. The kebabs were so soft that they fell apart instantly in my mouth. The Harissa Chicken Kebabs that came on skewers featured perfectly succulent pieces of chicken and make for a very hearty appetizer. The harissa flavour was strong and slightly spicy, making this well suited to the Indian palate.
Bayroute has dedicated a considerable portion of its menu to flatbreads, so we had to try at least one, if not two. Our first was the Sebze Pide, a canoe shaped Turkish flatbread. It was topped with a medley of vegetables and fried eggplant in a saffron onion sauce with feta snow and kashkaval cheese. While I’m personally not a fan of flatbreads, finding them too bready almost every time, this pide was an exception. The vegetable filling packed such a bold flavour, that it didn’t let the bready-ness affect any bite.
We also had the Shakshouka, which is a round flatbread with Middle Eastern spiced tomatoes, onions, chilli pepper and cumin, topped with a baked egg. This was very different from the pide, in the way of the textures. While the eggplant in the pide made the topping creamy and soft, the tomatoes and onions in the shakshouka made for a slightly crunchy texture.
Both the flatbreads had a distinct personality and styles of their own, showing just how varied Middle Eastern cuisine is. Both the flatbreads were good orders and are ideal for when you’re sitting at a big table and passing it around.
To humour ourselves, we also placed an order for a simple chicken shawarma. Having eaten Carter Road shawarma for years, we were prepared for a shawarma experience that would take us to the next level. The soft and succulent shawarma was probably one of the best dishes we ate. The creamy hummus made a comeback in this dish and is what it made it so damn good. This shawarma has definitely spoilt us, because we’re not settling for Carter Road Shawarma again!
For our main course, we ate a Moussaka, which was literally half a roasted eggplant stuffed with potato and zucchini in a creamy béchamel and tomato sauce. While it’s on the heavier side, it’s truly a delicacy that you can’t miss, especially if you’re a vegetarian. Guys, trust me and give this baingan a try.
For our non-vegetarian main course, we chose the Machboos Al Kuzu. This was an Egyptian spiced rice cooked in a lamb jus and topped with fresh mint, crunchy pistachios and fried onions. The rice was served with juicy, well-seasoned pieces of lamb. While the rice looked dry, it was actually really rich in flavour. The buttery and flavoured rice was unlike anything I’d had before. It wasn’t as rough and bold as a biryani can be, but instead, was subtle yet significant.
Finally, for dessert, we were spoilt for choice! We went with a Lotus Milk Cake, which was a sponge cake drowned in flavoured milk and a lotus biscuit caramel mascarpone whipped cream. It was a simple dessert but failed to match up to the glorious-ness of our meal.
I would go back here for a birthday dinner date with a parent, or a fancy date night. My repeat orders would include the hummus, kebabs, and anything with Lotus Biscoff in it! Next time around, however, I would like to indulge in their bespoke selection of cocktails, that were unfortunately not up for service when we visited, because they were yet to receive approval on appropriate licences. All in all, we had a wonderful time at Bayroute, exploring a cuisine truly under-represented in our booming city.