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Stirring up the melting pot

Fiona FernandezAs the F&B sector in the city witnesses a semi-lull this season, barring the odd big-ticket opening, one hopes that it’s the calm before the storm, leading up into the festive season and the end of the year. Amid the fanfare and celebratory mood, we also hope that Mumbai’s gourmands and foodies get to experience more variety and out-of-the-box thinking as far as new restaurants go.

For one, we expect to see more standalone, high-quality restaurants bring in flavours from across the seven seas — from continents like South America and Africa and some of the Pacific isles. There’s nothing in the city from these two vast playgrounds of cuisines, cultures and techniques. The closest we’ve come to savouring food from that part of the world has been Tex-Mex and Egyptian food. And I’m sure you, dear food-loving reader, will agree that Mumbai can do better than that.

Closer home, West Asia, or our neighbours including Sri Lanka, Bhutan and Maldives are known to be home to treasure troves of spices, condiments and rich culinary traditions simmered over centuries of influences that haven’t been tapped into. We’d love to see a restaurant that celebrates the food that originated from regions along the historic Silk Route, for example. Or dig into dishes influenced by the Khyber Pass? We’re salivating.

And finally, our own country’s far-flung regions need better representation in our restaurants. From the rarely-tread areas of the Northeast to Kashmir, to the plains of Madhya Pradesh and the temple towns of Tamil Nadu, there’s plenty of diversity, we believe. Not only would it introduce us to their food but it can also open doors for employment even. While sourcing of produce from these places might be a challenge still; of late, we’ve noticed how this hurdle has been crossed as well, with more entrepreneurs working hard at creating such ingredients locally. How often have we binged at a roadside dhaba or even a popular eatery in a tiny town only to wish that the food was available in aamchi Mumbai? Which brings us to our home state — where are eateries to showcase flavours of Vidharbha, Marathwada, Pune or Kolhapur? A handful of eateries is all that we can boast of.

Sure, several farsighted restaurateurs have begun looking beyond the obvious already, with pop-ups springing up with pleasing regularity. The food’s been good, the ideas, a welcome change, and the response, overwhelming. Need we say more?

So, here’s to giving us the world on our platter. We’ll keep an eye on the kitchen.

The writer is Features Editor of mid-day

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