Dus ka dum

Updated: 28 December, 2019 09:46 IST | Phorum Dalal | Mumbai

Mumbai's chefs and restaurateurs wrack their brains to pick their dish of the decade. Does it get your vote?

Change is the greatest constant," archaeologist and food historian Kurush Dalal tells us when we ask him if there is a Mumbai dish that represents the decade. As one of our favourite culinary storytellers takes a detour to give us an answer, we discuss how the past decade has managed to bring Indian cuisine into the twilight zone, in between casual and fine dining, with the practice of foraging picking up momentum.

Kurush Dalal

"We may love our classics and club favourites, but it is time to accept change." A turning point came nine years ago, when he tasted the dal khichdi at the Mumbai University canteen in Kalina. "'Aaj kya milega?' I asked the office boy, and he answered, 'Saab, dal khichdi kha lo.'"

The simple mix of dal, rice and tadka, over time got the addition of palak and garlic. "With a side of achar and a dollop of butter on top, the comforting, nourishing dish became a top choice for students and economically weaker sections. Today, we all love it." Dalal picks one more iconic dish: the triple schezwan rice. "You will not find this in all of China, but it has a niche across city menus. I love the version at Chang's, Santacruz East."

Chef Sanjeev Kapoor
Chef Sanjeev Kapoor

Vada pav

The culinary landmark of Mumbai, the vada pav, stays the dish of the decade for me. It has all the elements that define our sweet and spicy palate. Today, it has found place on in-flight menus, bars and casual dining spaces in the form of baked croissant rolls and sliders. But, my favourite versions are the one s outside NMIMS in Juhu, and Ashok Vada Pav in Dadar.

Pav bhaji

Pav bhaji

Anjan Chatterjee, chairman & managing director, Speciality Restaurants Ltd
Anjan Chatterjee, chairman & managing director, Speciality Restaurants Ltd

From being an affordable meal option for mill workers, to a buttery street-food delicacy, pav bhaji has found place in modern gastronomy, as in a fondue. Many chefs have given this humble dish a new identity but I like the version at Haji Ali Juice Centre.

Masala dosa

Masala dosa

Chef Hemant Oberoi
Chef Hemant Oberoi

Chefs are doing so many things with different cuisines that the last decade has been defined experiments. The evergreen sada and masala dosa is the dish of the decade for it has survived the test of being transmuted into cigars to hold kakori kebabs, to palak paneer and pizza toppings. I like the masala dosa served at a stall opposite Babulnath Temple.

Fish tartare

Fish tartare

AD Singh, owner, The Olive Group
AD Singh, owner, The Olive Group

Tartare or raw fish cakes is the dish of the decade for me. These are new entries on menus everywhere this decade and I enjoy the salmon tartare at Hello Guppy. Healthy, delicious, fresh and different.

Malvani and Thai chilli crab

Malvani and Thai chilli crab

Pia Promina Das Gupta, chef and baker
Pia Promina Das Gupta, chef and baker

Today, crabs have become expensive as they have made it to most restaurant menus. I love the versions at Gajalee and Raju's Malvani Mejwan in Dadar and their bombil fry (another dish that has seen the spotlight in the last decade). Chef Seefah Ketchaiyo does a great Thai chilli crab. Two home chefs, Roopa Nabar and Bimba Nayak, make the Gomantak and Pathare Prabhu style versions respectively.

Cacciocavallo brûlée & Crispy prawn cheung fun roll

Cacciocavallo brûlée & Crispy prawn cheung fun roll

Romil Ratra, CEO, The A Club
Romil Ratra, CEO, The A Club

This decade, there are two dishes that stand out for me: Prateek Sadhu's Cacciocavallo brûlée at Masque and the crispy prawn cheung fun roll at Yauatcha Mumbai. The former for the absolute surprise and delight it brings to the palate. No one imagined a local cheese being made into something so refined. Yauatcha's crispy prawn cheung fun roll is deceptively simple with the soft springy wrap, the crisp layer below and the plump, perfectly cooked prawns on top. After a long time of eating hot, spicy and heavy Indo-Chinese food, it was a breath of fresh air and has changed the way we see Chinese food. This restaurant doesn't look Asian, serves non-spicy, non-greasy fare that's flavourful and has redefined real dim sums for the city.

Noodle tales

Gujarati-style frankie

Chef Gautam Mehrishi
Chef Gautam Mehrishi

During my days at Taj Mahal Palace, Mumbai, 15 years ago, Tibbs Frankie was my staple indulgent snack. It was the ideal dish for Mumbai as it could keep up with the fast pace of life and allowed you to eat on the go. Today, the frankie has been reimagined as egg rolls, and with multigrain breads. I enjoy the Gujarati version at Irla market and Kwality's next to Sahakari Bhandar in Juhu.

Podi Idli

Podi Idli

Ten years ago, if you craved idli, all you got was the steamed version. Today, you find it in over a hunder varieties like podi, palak, poriyal, Sri Lankan curry and a Chindian chilli one. My pick would be the version at Idli House in Matunga.

Suraj Shetty, owner, Banana Leaf and Mahesh Lunch Home
Suraj Shetty, owner, Banana Leaf and Mahesh Lunch Home

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First Published: 28 December, 2019 09:35 IST

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