#MumbaiList: Guide To The Finest, Authentic Home-style Keralite Cuisine In Mumbai

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If you end up in and E.R. in Canada or Dubai, chances are your blood pressure will be taken by a smiling portly Keralite nurse. Take a vacation on a cruise-liner and you can be quite sure most of the kitchen staff speaks Malyalam. Go to a church in Rome, and odds are you will meet at least one mallu nun. The people of Kerala, you see, are known for their will to travel far and wide in search of good fortune. The more adventurous ones end up in London or Toronto, the ones with more local ambitions head to India’s metropolises. Expectedly, Mumbai is home to a very flourishing Keralite community, many of whom settled down here at least a couple of generations ago, bringing with them so much delicious Malabari food. Here’s a list of highly recommended restaurants or ‘hotels’, where you are promised an authentic mallu dining experience. Madina Hotel– Mahim
Soft flaky parottas, image courtesy Tes at Home
Soft flaky parottas, image courtesy Tes at Home
To find this hole in the wall, look for a small faded wide and green board opposite Paradise Cinema on Mahim Causeway. From outside it looks unkempt and dingy, but the scrubbed clean interiors and spotless yellow tables are quite inviting. If the wiggly malyalam text on the board wasn’t a dead giveaway, bunches of Kerala bananas hanging from the ceiling make a statement about Madina’s identity. The menu, painted on the wall, has a small list of staples - like flaky parottas which are heavy yet so addictive and a variety of vegetable, seafood and meat dishes. They have chicken, mutton and kappa (tapioca) Moplah style biryani, served in a generous heap – a full meal for most hard working class men, who form a majority of Madina’s clientele. Service is friendly, fuss-free and prompt, but it’s the spicy, authentic home-style food that will keep you coming back for more. Hotel Deluxe – Fort
Hotel Deluxe in Fort, image courtesy Finely Chopped
Hotel Deluxe in Fort, image courtesy Finely Chopped
Located in one of the densely packed by-lanes of Fort, this is another modest dining establishment that has for decades fed Mumbai’s working class. This joint is sort of fancier than those that surround it, because it has an A.C. section on the first floor, which you will be lead to if you happen to be a group of women, ‘family persons’ or slightly corporate looking. Be warned, you’ll pay 20% more for this luxury. But even in this coveted A.C. section, almost no item on the menu exceeds Rs.150. Even though they serves a selection of authentic sea food and non-vegetarian biryanis, their most popular item is probably the vegetarian thali – little mounds of different vegetable preparations, pickles, chutneys, poppadum, red rice, rassam and more. You’ll end on a sweet note, like one always should, most probably with payassam. Some elements in the thali change on a daily basis, as per the season and chef’s mood, so you’ll find something new to enjoy every time you visit. Sneha Restaurant – Mahim
Sneha Restaurant in Mahim, image courtesy Open Rice
Sneha Restaurant in Mahim, image courtesy Open Rice
Located just a short walk away from Madina, is another Keralite establishment called Sneha. Most eateries in Mumbai shy away from openly writing ‘beef’ on their menu, for fear of turning away a large part of our cow-worshipping population. So Sneha gets full marks for bravery and honesty. The spicy, oniony beef fry is perfect with those soft parottas I mentioned earlier. The mutton, beef or kappa biryani, served with a spicy gravy and a cold raita to cut the spice, are also hot favourites. As are the chicken roast and prawn masala. Almost any carnivore who has ever been to Sneha will tell you that their beef fry is the stuff that legends are made of. Udaya Lunch Home – Chembur East
Spicy Kerala Beef fry, image courtesy Dileep Jose
Spicy Kerala Beef fry, image courtesy Dileep Jose
Chembur has a very significant Keralite presence, so it isn’t surprising that many of Udaya’s patrons are mallus with a craving for a taste of home. It’s been around for over 40 years!  Udaya, being quite close to the T.I.S.S. campus is popular among its student population. Since students frequent this place, you can be sure it’s easy on the pocket. This place is so authentic that it serves many dishes that are hard to find even in Kerala, using indigenous season vegetables and fruits. They make a very tasty kallummakaya (shellfish) preparation, meen moili (coconut fish curry), naadan chilli chicken and irachi ishtew (mutton stew) and Kozhi Varrathatu (chicken fry) all of which go down pretty well with hot parotas or freshly made appams. No matter where in Mumbai you live, heading to Chembur for a meal here will be well worth your time. Don’t take your car though, you won’t find parking. Hotel Murali – Powai
Appam, stew and egg roast, image courtesy Sailus Food
Appam, stew and egg roast, image courtesy Sailus Food
Udaya is to T.I.S.S. what Hotel Murali is to I.I.T. Powai; a place where all the home sick mallu students can find some culinary comfort. What makes this place even more homely is that it is run by a mummy-daddy duo of Mr. and Mrs. Murali. Located near gate 7 of L&T, you’ll have to climb up a rickety metal staircase to get to this eatery. It serves only 10 at a time, so expect your elbow to be in the next guy’s sambar if you’re in a big group. They serve aromatic curries, spicy chilli fries, tangy fish curries, deep fried fish and much more. Everything dish brims with love and is made fresh in Mrs. Murali’s kitchen. Odds are you’ll want to take a nice snooze after this heavy meal, even if you end with a nice strong filter coffee, which you really should! The variety of food available in Mumbai never seizes to amaze me. Each and every one of these restaurants is honest, full of character and extremely popular. What’s even better is that despite all their popularity, a filling meal at any one of these won’t cost anything over Rs.250 per head, and that’s if you really pig out! Any other mallu gems we should know of? Let us know using the comments section below or write to us at [email protected] Featured Image courtesy: http://4.bp.blogspot.com

Salonee Gadgil

Salonee Gadgil
I'll chat with my imaginary pet dog and perfect a handstand while the rest of you act like grown ups.
  • suburbanfoodie

    Benzy Palace and Taste of Kerala in Marol for the best chicken stew and beef fry

  • Gourmet

    Also, you’ve forgotten Sunny’s at Shell Colony Road, Chembur

  • vidya

    National Hindu in Kalina- No beef, but their puttu is pretty good as is their kerala porottas and chicken sukka. What I like- getting mallu snacks- such as banana fry, and other sweetmeats during their snack time-which changes on a weekly basis