The last time we ate at Colaba Social, we noticed their menu had dishes that you would not expect to encounter in a cafe. So you have vada pavs, (a fancier version of course, called Vada Pav Bao), Baida Roti, Dhansak as well as everyone’s favourite – Biryani! The burgers and sandwiches have their place intact, which make the menu all the more interesting.
Chef Gaurav Gidwani says that the purpose behind introducing these regional gems along with regular bar snacks on the table was to reach out to more people. “I believe Indian dishes have a great potential to connect people. Unfortunately, the cuisine is yet to be explored and so our endeavour is to expose and serve them with a modern twist,” reveals the Executive Chef. Social (Colaba) also has a Butter Chicken Biryani, which goes perfectly well with alcohol for the simple reason being, “butter and cream help absorb alcohol,” quips the chef!
The Vada Pav Bao at Social
Mumbai with its diverse food offerings takes pride in its dynamic street food culture. Therefore, it’s no surprise to find more and more cafes and bars include everyday Indian snacks and mains along with their usual salad-burger-sandwich menu. It is probably the familiarity with foods that we’ve grown up with is what they are relying on.
There was a time when the search for that perfect Dhansak or Kheema Pav led us to an old-world Irani café. But, not anymore! At Bandra’s latest café, Villa Vandre, you can get a taste of the legendary Parsi dish apart from other regional favourites. Their Mutton Dhansak, Kheema Pav, coastal prawn curry and East Indian sausages are enjoyed as much as their signatures like salads, pastas and bagels.
Chef Aloysius Dsilva says that he wanted to add Dhansak and Kheema Pav because, “We wanted to give the people specials from Bandra that its residents have been cooking and enjoying over the years.” And by the looks of it, their East Indian Sausages and Dhansak seem to be the top sellers.
Celebrity chef and author, Vicky Ratnani believes that it is the ‘love for Indian street food’ is what is making more and more bars and cafes include regional dishes to their menus. “It’s also about offering customers with comfort foods that too in a different, nice ambience. Everybody loves a chicken tandoori or kebabs, which also go extremely well with alcohol,” he says. For Harry’s Bar & Café, Ratnani curated a Chicken Tikka Masala and a Paneer version, a Lamb Burger prepared with garam masala, but all presented with a twist.
Laal Maas Phulkas at Monkey Bar
At a time when restaurants are waking up to an Indian food revolution, Mumbai’s Monkey Bar has had a food philosophy that celebrates regional cuisine from the days of its inception.
“Indian food is complex and very well complements your drinks as the spices get washed out. The bit sized Sindhi Dal Pakwan and the Baingan Pakoda Phulka Tacos that we have on the menu go really well with a glass of beer, a cocktail and even with your whiskey,” says Chef Manu Chandra of the city’s latest gastropub. He feels that it’s always better to twist Indian food with Western flavours instead of blindly aping the West. “High time Indian food became fun and acceptable,” he adds.
With regional food, typically street foods found in the lanes and bylanes of the country now being served at a chic ambience along with cocktails, it’d be interesting to see what comes next!