Rare Regional Cuisines Around You | Mumbai Foodie Guide
In our whirl to keep up with the global trends and the newest food spots in our city, it’s easy to forget the brilliant range of food India has to offer. From all the different regions, provinces, states, languages, dialects and cultures emerges a palette that’s too broad to even try to describe.
For instance, being born and raised in this city, I didn’t even know Tribal Maharashtrian food existed, much less how to access it. In all honesty, our obsession with everything global has made regional cuisines an unfortunate rarity. However, there are champions in the form of small establishments packing big flavours, and I’m hoping they can turn things around.
The honest places don’t try to adapt to the local palette, nor do they aim to recreate a long-lost set of traditional flavours. They make simple, wholesome food from regions that rarely receive their culinary due. MF brings you small, secretive and absolutely brilliant places serving regional cuisines from around majestic India.
Being a (proud) Sindhi, it would only be appropriate to give a shoutout to the nearby Sindhi place on the rise. Sindhful captures the essence of India’s Northwest border with Pakistan through its revival of the province’s culinary palette.
Serving perhaps the meanest, deadliest and most mouth-watering Dal Pakwan in the city (unless you’re in a Sindhi home), this tiny kitchen space has unexpected flavour bombs. It might sound ridiculous, but their Green Chutney stole the show with its immaculate texture while leaving behind a firm, spicy flavour. Serving luscious kebabs that disintegrate with each bite and absolute Sindh classics from Pakwan to Kheema and Kofta and falling-off-the-bone Mutton, Sindhful hits all the right spots. Oh, did I mention that two people can rejoice a Sindhful feast in Rs.1000?
Quick tip: Dal Pakwan with the chutneys in each bite is how Sindhis take their Sunday food coma.
The Hungry Bunny
Run by home chef Sama Ankolkar, The Hungry Bunny caters Bohri food prepared traditionally. Primary service includes home delivery and catering, although The Hungry Bunny also has pop-up events from time to time, such as the Iftar Thaal event towards the end of Ramadan (which I attended, obviously).
The Bunny’s Facebook and Instagram pages are regularly updated with new kitchen creations, such as mildly spiced Lamb Chops, Mutton Biryani and Baida Roti.
Traditional, slow-cooked, perfectly spiced and balanced flavours are the essence of Sama’s home-staple food. Besides the Bohri food, The Hungry Bunny also does regional and North Indian favourites such as Baingan Ka Bhartha and Stuffed Mushroom dishes, sending delicious love to all the veggie foodies out there.
Quick tip: Bohri food is about a variety of flavours, so keep your mind open while eating.
Bagchiis, Pali Hill
Bengali food in Mumbai is fairly prominent, but homemade Bengali flavours using the right ingredients and fresh, clean produce needs more representation. Bagchiis is a tiny establishment in the heart of Bandra that serves some of the most delightful Eastern Bengali flavours via delivery or takeaway. They specialise in appetisers.
Their Kosha Mangsho, a spicy Mutton Curry, is an Eastern Bengali delicacy made with herbs and traditional spices, slow-cooked Mutton pieces on the bone to bring out maximum flavour. Additionally, the Cholar Dal served at Bagchii’s is a celebratory Bengali staple dish – essentially a thick, chickpea dal mixed with the deliciousness of fried coconut, ghee and sometimes raisins. A must try for anyone who likes an elaborate outburst of flavours, or someone looking to eat a memorable Bengali meal.
Quick tip: We may have to pick a fight if you still think Bong food is mostly mustard.
Gonguura, Andheri West
For most of us, South Indian food is Idli, Dosa, Medu Wada, Sambar and a few knick-knacks here and there. Gonguura is here to change exactly that, being among the few serving fantastic Andhra cuisine with detailed authenticity at very affordable rates.
Although they serve only vegetarian food, nothing can be taken away from their sincere approach in producing genuine Andhra flavours. The Thali meals are plenty for one person and consist of the Andhra-style Dal and Rice, which is served with ghee and papad, and of course the delicate, in-house Andhra-styled pickles.
The variety of Dals, Curries and Rice accompaniments leave you and your stomach spoiled for choice, making Gonguura worth a second (and third) visit in order to be able to try everything. The Pakodas, Mirchi Bhajiyas and classic South Indian snacks cannot be missed either!
Quick tip: Get the Idli with Podi or a Thali. We’re expecting a handwritten Thank You note.
Aagri Culture Express, Lower Parel
A little north of Thane resides one of Maharashtra’s oldest tribal villages filled with Aagris, who possess a rather distinct cuisine that has found its way to midtown Mumbai. Aagri Culture Express is considered an authentic reflection of the Aagri’s cuisine and in their tiny pocket of space in Lower Parel, produce some of the boldest flavours.
Specialising in seafood like the average Maharashtrian palette, Aagri Culture Express offers a scrumptious Kalwan, which is authentic Aagri Curry/Gravy such as a Thick Bombay Duck Gravy and a Clams Gravy. Their Kalwan gravies can even be customised, with ranges of spice and inclusion of various vegetables. It would be a true tragedy to miss out on their Masala Fry dishes which are various, spiced versions of various fish, with my pick of the lot being a spicy, chili-crusted Surmai (King Fish).
Quick tip: A thali is our way to order here. Pick between vegetarian, chicken, mutton, or seafood.
Gitika’s Pakghor, Juhu
A home-cooking experience that serves gastronomical North East Indian food, Gitika’s Pakghor is an establishment that serves some of India’s most Oriental-infused cuisines in the form of pop-ups around suburban Mumbai. Influenced by Assamese, Nagaland and Arunachal culinary styles, Gitika’s food offers distinctly original and uncommon flavours in comfortable, homely environment.
Using produce from markets in Mumbai and Assam, Gitika’s brings flavours like no other to a city full of people excited about her food, including dishes such as Pork cooked with Jackfruit, Papaya and Rice Flour from ther last pop-up event.
With authentic ingredients such as Bamboo Shoot, Black Sesame and Pumpkin Leaves, there is a certain luxury about eating comfortable, eating home-cooked food in a home-style dining experience.
Her constantly changing menu pop-up after pop-up has led to a distinct style in her cooking, which can be seen in the finesse of her plating and the growing magnitude of her effects leading to pop-ups even out of Mumbai. Find Gitika’s Pakghor on Facebook and Instagram for her latest pop-ups, ideas and culinary adventures.
Quick tip: As much as the food is fantastic, this isn’t a meal we can recommend to vegetarians.
New Martin Hotel, Colaba
Have you ever eaten at the all-famous Martin’s Corner in South Goa? In case you haven’t (you must), it is considered one of Goa’s greatest restaurants serving local Goan food, and of course, specializing in tongue-twisting seafood flavours. Their namesake in Mumbai, New Martin, is a joint that attempts the same.
Serving authentic Goan cuisine, they have all the staple dishes from spicy Goan Sausages to a fiery Fish Curry with Rice. Freshness is the top priority with Goan seafood and hence, their small menu revolves around daily specials that bring you the freshest catch and simplest produce in order to stimulate the taste buds with maximum flavour. With a meal for two barely exceeding Rs. 400, New Martin is a unique culinary recreation of the original in Goa.
Quick tip: The steak is unique, but Pork and Mutton rule the roost here.
The best way to national integration is eating food from all over the country. Tell us what you’re trying next in the comments!