This restaurant in Navi Mumbai serves wholesome Kerala food and more

04 June,2023 07:58 AM IST |  Mumbai  |  Arpika Bhosale

Navi Mumbai’s best-kept culinary secret is barely nine months old and serves a rice-squid-bangda-prawn-beetroot bowl that we think is Kerala’s killer answer to Bibimbap

Chetti Choru

On a random Sunday, while looking for places to eat on an app, we stumbled on Food Stories in Belapur. An oddly interesting name for a restaurant, hidden behind international fastfood joints and well-established eateries, this Kerala food place piqued our interest.

Their menu is an interesting mix of Syrian Catholic dishes, toddy shop-style food and Thalaserry specials, interspersed with South East Asian food. There are a host of prawns, squids, clams and crab dishes and a long list of biryanis, thalis, stews and roasts. It turns out that the restaurant has already reserved a place in the hearts of those who cherish rustic Malabar food. It has a modest seating capacity of 20, with white tables and light green walls reminiscent of eateries in the interiors of God's own country.

Stringhopper biryani

And we are right. Run by Brij Mohan, the family owns a string of restaurants in Kerala under the Sagara Restaurants brand. In late 2019, they scouted locations in Mumbai, including Hill Road at Bandra, but COVID was a bummer. "We put our plans on hold back then," says Mohan, "post some more market research, we came to know of a thriving untapped market in Navi Mumbai. We opened in August of last year and the response has been amazing."

It's true. Because on weekends, it is tough to get a spot. We went in on a weekday and began our meal with chatti choru (Rs 340), perfect for two. Served in a banana leaf inside a pot, it has layers of red rice, an assortment of sabzis (beetroot, cabbage and avial), and squid roast that has been cooked to perfection. The rice soaks up all the delicious spices and oil that lace the pot. Served with bangda (mackeral) and prawn fry, pan-fried in the same spices as the squid, this is every seafood lover's delight.


Next comes kizhi parotta (Rs 340), the quintessential layered Malabar parotta, with heaps of fried chicken gravy seasoned with curry leaves. This is wrapped - with the curry still sizzling inside - in a banana leaf and steamed on a hot tawa. As we unwrap the leaf and dig into the layers, pieces of chilly fried chicken are still crunchy and the parotta melts in our mouth.

Another delicacy on our plate is the string hopper or iddiyappam biryani (Rs 280). "Once you've boiled the rice noodles, the rest is just assembly," chef Mohammed Imitiyaz tells us, "The layers of string hoppers and gravy give it a Southeast Asian feel - like a mix of cultures and cuisines on this side of the equator coming together to create something unique."

Kizhi Parotta

To end the dish on a sweet note, we go with Mohan's recommendation of unnakaya (Rs 210), a plantain based dish. Like most Indian desserts, this sweet, tangy, crunchy dish is loaded with calories. However, this isn't run-of-mill - it's made of boiled mashed banana stuffed with fried fresh coconut, sugar and cardamom powder. The raw bananas are steamed. The fried coconut crunch is what gives the dish another texture. You could wash it down with a cup of Sulaimani chai if you like.

Brij Mohan of Food Stories in Belapur comes from a family that runs a chain of restaurants in Kerala. Pics/Anurag Ahire

We recommend the restaurant to anyone wanting a unique, tasty, pocket-friendly Malabar meal option. The food is flavoursome and most dishes taste like home-cooked meals with the perfect balance of spice. The portions are generous, too. Mohan is soon to open another restaurant in Nerul and is keen to revisit his plan to open a space in Bandra as well. Without a doubt, he'll find takers there too.

Food Stories
WHERE: Plot No-69, Sai Sagar Complex, Shop No-10, Sector 15, CBD Belapur, Thane.
Timing: 8.30 AM to 11 PM
CALL: 6282713256

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