Goto Navi Mumbai for North Eastern food. Photo for representational purpose.
Eating out in Navi Mumbai offers diners many options, and for those who like to try Indian food, there’s plenty to choose from. You will find everything from the ubiquitous Udupi-style dosa joints to the classic Bombay street food stalls, thali restaurants, predictable biryani joints etc. But if you scratch the surface a little, you will find quite a few places that offer foods from specific regions –Bengali, Assamese, Chettinad, Kerala and lots more. Check out some of my personal restaurants.
Kerala House, Vashi
This is one of those no-frills places where everything is about the food. And once you’ve eaten here, you will realise nothing else matters when the food is so good and sticks to the brief so well! Buy meal coupons at the door for their basic Veg thali, and once you are seated you can order the extras like fried fish or fried chicken. The thali itself is loaded with red rice, sambhar, rasam, pickles, papads, vegetables and buttermilk. The non-veg extras arrive quite quickly, so you aren’t left waiting while the food in the thali gets cold. Just dig in with your fingers and have a feast.
Grace Restaurant, Nerul
Grace Restaurant has a huge menu packed with classics from a Kerala kitchen – stew, appams, porotta, kadala curry, puttu, you name it and they seem to have it. With chicken, mutton, a wide variety of seafood, and a decent selection of vegetarian food this place is one of the top choices for Navi Mumbaikars in the mood for a Kerala feast.
Bong Adda – CBD, Belapur
Packed on weekends and busy during the week too, Bong Adda keeps the Bengali flag flying in Navi Mumbai. Well known for their fragrant and light Kolkata-style biryani, Bong Adda also offers other favourites like Chingri malai curry, Ilish shorse, Kosha mangsho, etc with quite a list of more homely preparations like Begun posto, Rui macher jhol, Dimer jhol among other things. Bengalis will be happily surprised to find Chitol peti kalia, Tel koi, and seasonal fare like smoked ilish with rice. On days when I don’t feel like choosing a la carte, I choose a thali – they have nine different thalis!
Iti is another favourite among Navi Mumbaikars looking for a taste of Bengal. They regularly have special menus that celebrate seasons, festivals and even special dates like Tagore’s birthday showcasing dishes that go with the chosen theme. Some interesting dishes served here are Barisaler Shorse Ilish, Shambajarer Kosha Mangsho and Dhakai Ilish Biryani that take you beyond the usual suspects like malai curry and kosha mangsho.
The Palm Chettinad, Kharghar
Relatively new, The Palm Chettinad has become very popular in a short while for its Chettinad food. Though the menu does have other cuisines on offer, I suggest you stick to the Chettinad food here. The Chettinad mutton fry is one of my favourites and we always have the banana flower vadai too. Both the Chettinad Chicken and the Karaikudi Chettinad Chicken pack a solid punch of fresh spices, especially pepper, and are lip-smackingly good. A steady stream of Malabar porottas or appams is all you need to complete the meal.
Desi Curry, Kharghar
Till recently if one wanted to eat Maharashtrian food in a restaurant, the choices didn’t stretch beyond the misal/vada pao joints or the Malavani/seafood places. Then finally Desi Curry opened its doors. Kothimbir vadi, patodi masala, bharleli vangi, gavran chicken sukka, Saoji mutton, bhakri and vade are just some of the dishes that are on offer here. Having eaten most of these dishes at some friend’s house at some time I can say that Desi Curry does quite a good job.
On days when I crave classic North Indian and Mughlai food, I usually end up at Sigree. The lunch buffets are the best I have eaten in Navi Mumbai and the menu changes daily, with extras on weekends. It’s hardly surprising that this place is usually packed and it’s a good idea to call and book in advance, especially on weekends. Sigree is one of the few places where I confidently order mutton – it’s never tough or chewy. Dishes to look out for include the smoky daal sigree, paneer tikkas, Roghan josh, Mahi sarsonwali, and the kakori kebabs.
This one’s in the Assam Bhavan near Vashi station, and while it has a huge menu spanning everything from Chinese to South Indian, it does have a fairly good Assamese section too. There’s a good selection of thalis, which make for quick and wholesome meals like the Rohu tenga thali or the Assamese veg thali, and you can order extras like mutton zeera zaluk, various fried fish, baingan fry, etc. to add to your meal.
Odisha Bhavan, Vashi
Get a taste of Odisha at the dining hall in the Odisha Bhavan. Here too you can opt for a thali – veg, fish, prawn or chicken, or choose from the a la carte menu. You will find typical Odisha dishes like santula, dalma, dahi bengana, rohu besara, chicken jhola etc. on the menu here.
Seven Springs, Vashi
This restaurant is in Meghalaya House and has a special section on their menu devoted to ‘Exotic Food from North East’. Here you can gorge on different kinds of momos including pork momos, and feast on a variety of classic dishes from the North East. There’s eronba from Manipur, Naga-style chicken curry, pork curry, king chilli and chicken salad, plus four North Eastern thali options.