Tewari Bros, Mumbai

I’m not sure if I’ve admitted this on here yet, but Indian food isn’t really my thing. If i have admitted it before, let’s pretend that this is a totally new admission and you’re both shocked and intrigued. “But why?” you think, “how can a food writer who thinks all day–almost entirely–about eating reject the culinary stylings of her ancestors?” Firstly, don’t put me in a box, but secondly, it’s complicated. (I’m aware that sounded like a breakup.)

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Mumbai, Kochi, and more Eastern eats

DSC_0407Following our Myanmar sojourn, we headed West, to Bombay (Mumbai), for more hijinks in a post-colonial country. After some much needed family time, a Bollywood New Years Eve, a trip to the caves in Elephanta (where we spotted this gem): DSC_0308and lots of eating (not pictured, sadly—but I’ll include our go-to spots at the end), we went South, to Kerala. I’d never explored South India, and was very excited for a new experience in the country I visit each year. We began in Kochi, a port city on India’s West Coast, and traveled throughout the region…DSC_0341We spied a local man making biryani (rice and meat cooked together) in large quantities:DSC_0360 DSC_0362 DSC_0364 DSC_0366 DSC_0368

We also spent a glorious day and night on a houseboat cruising through the Keralan backwaters.DSC_0369 DSC_0373 DSC_0410 DSC_0411DSC_0398 DSC_0407 Having spent much of my time in India in Bombay I wasn’t as familiar with the coconut-infused flavors of the South. The local cuisine displays both the more tropical surroundings and Portuguese colonial influence in many dishes which are often heavy on ultra-fresh seafood. While on the boat, we stopped by a local floating storefront to pick up some just-fished shrimp and other necessities:DSC_0387 DSC_0390 DSC_0393 DSC_0396

On the boat, one of our first meals featured (from far left moving clockwise) yogurt-coconut curry, fried roots and coconut pieces, sautéed greens with, yes, more coconut slivers (seen in more detail after this photo), and a raw cabbage and coconut salad. DSC_0377 DSC_0383Simply spiced and fried fish:
DSC_0384Deep fried banana slices served with tea:

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Our travels in Myanmar and India only excited me for more trips to come…who knows where! For any of you heading to Mumbai, here are a few of my family’s favorite spots.

Kebabs n Kurries: While the name doesn’t have the minimalism of many restaurants in the West, this restaurant in the ITC Grand Central hotel is a stand-out. The black dal and Chicken Malai Kababs are my go-tos. It’s kind of far out for us (we live in South Bombay), but we always make the trip or come on the way back from the airport!
No.287, Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar Road, Parel

Trishna: This fish restaurant is a favorite with locals and tourists alike. The food is rich, but delicious–get the butter-garlic prawns or fish and the chili crab.
Bamanpuri, Kanti Nagar, J B Nagar, Andheri East

Swati Snacks:
For excellent vegetarian fare, go to Swati, which specializes in street food without the threat of, well, what comes along with Street Food. There’s usually a wait in this tiny no-frills spot, but it’s worth it. Go for the dosas, sev puri and panka chatni (“savory rice pancakes steamed in banana leaf.)
248, Karai Estate, Tardeo Road, Opposite Bhatia Hospital, Near Javji Dadaji Marg, Tardeo

Kala Ghoda Cafe: 
For Mumbai, this sandwich shop is nothing short of hipster. It’s a cool cafe vibe with very good coffee in a tiny lofted space.
10, Ropewalk Lane, Opp Krishna Restaurant, Kala Ghoda Fort

Khyber
This is an oldie but a goodie, and my family has been coming to this restaurant for years. The kababs are delicious, and my father always orders the brain cooked in an omelette with green chutney. Not quite my cup of tea but everything else is excellent.
145, Ground Floor Mahatma Gandhi Road | Kala Ghoda, Fort Near Rhythm House