A few of my classmates from my Master’s degree days had gathered last year for lunch at my place, after I had just moved home and it was a memorable meeting for we were meeting after a good 5-6 years, most of us having moved town or country for work or after marriage. Suddenly, an idea came up between us to do a day-long food trip to Mumbai, for all of us are foodies and have lived and worked in Mumbai for atleast some time, so Mumbai is like food paradise for us. Although everyone was hooked onto the idea, it took several months to actually execute it for everyone’s work and family commitments would clash. Finally, when a friend who was fondly called ‘fairy food-mother’ back in the University, for she would bring huge supplies of delicious home-cooked food and lovingly feed all the hostelites; declared that she was moving to Europe, we decided we had to make this trip happen so that it would be a fitting farewell to our food-loving friend.
We started off with the legendary Café Madras in Matunga East, a place that has been serving finger-licking delicious South-Indian food ever since 1940. This place is a major crowd puller, so it isn’t for someone looking for a leisurely meal; but OMG! Their food was really delicious and at an unbelievably inexpensive price tag (atleast by my Pune standards). We had Upma, a savory snack made with cream of wheat, but Café Madras’s twist of serving it with Podi, a south Indian dry-lentil and spice powder took it to a whole new level. The rasam idli was quite nice too, with a nice peppery hit from the Rasam. I loved the sambar, which came with the crisp medu wadas and idlis; and the crisp Ragi dosa is perfect for a morning nutrient fix. They also have their take on the Maharashtrian Misal, called a Madras Misal, where they served a Tamil style fried lentil mixture with a curry quite similar to rasam and fresh yogurt; I quite liked this one. And then ofcourse, no visit to Café Madras can be complete without a dose of strong South Indian Filter coffee!
Between breakfast and lunch, we decided to do a few touristy things which we had never done at leisure in this city we once called home. So several hours were spent admiring the structure and feeling the sea-breeze at the Gateway of India; and then walking through three of the galleries of the Prince of Wales Museum (now called the Chhatrapati Shivaji Museum). The Natural History section of the museum is especially worth a visit for everyone who is interested in knowing about the fauna on the Indian sub-continent. A special mention of the staff; for they were making a great effort in explaining the exhibits and live-demos in details and especially sparking the curiosity of children visitng the museum.
Next up was lunch at our favorite Leopold Café and Bar in Colaba, a place very popular among locals and foreign tourists to spend some chilled out time, over beer, conversations and a variety of delicious food. Their Kung Pao potatoes were a great start to the meal, crispy French fries tossed in a delicious hot and sweet sauce, which had us salivating for more. Our fairy food mother is vegetarian, so it was penne in a cream+pesto sauce for her; the flavor of the pesto and the crunch of the veggies being spot on. The rest of us digged into a hearty meal of chicken pot rice, which had very simple but amazing flavors. For desserts, the apple pie was a bit lackluster; but the Bailey’s Mousse was a perfect finale to a delicious meal.
For a group dominated by girls, no trip to Mumbai can end without shopping, so shopping it was at the Colaba Causeway. Followed by lots of street food at all of our old favorite street-side joints; sugarcane juice, bhel and pani puris, pav-bhaji, dabelis, wada pav, ice-creams, sandwiches and what not!
And thus, we spent a memorable day in my favorite city; doing what we love most, celebrating the food of this city that is every foodie’s dream come true.