Mumbai has always been a pioneer in the culinary spectrum. Our city has been home to several institutions such as Britannia & Co (Ballard Estate), Yazdani Bakery (Kala Ghoda), Shree Thakar Bhojanalaya (Kalbadevi) and Gajalee, to name a few.
We take our food very seriously. We want authentic, we want regional, we want tasty and, above all, we want choices. It’s no surprise then that with our increasingly sophisticated palates, and signature impatience, a new food culture has emerged. This new culture — albeit risqué at first — has evolved into a movement on its own: innovation.
The growing number of millennials branching out and trying their hand at the business is giving our local culinary world a makeover. These restaurateurs and chefs have a new vision, which is being beautifully plated (pun intended). Gone are the days of large, heavily sauced plates of food. The focus now has shifted from eating to dining. There is an increase in the number of boutique and bespoke restaurants. Passionate entrepreneurs are bringing a breath and taste of fresh air to the food scene.
Take The Bombay Canteen (Lower Parel), for instance. In a short span of time, they have put their own stamp on Indian cuisine. Bono Boutique Ice Cream (Bandra West) has a unique take on ice creams with their blue cheese and honey, and milk chocolate and bacon ice creams. At the recently launched Goila Butter Chicken (Andheri West), the traditionally Dhungar-smoked Butter Chicken is revolutionary.
At The Sassy Spoon, the Basil and Chocolate Fondant with basil and EVOO ice cream is extremely popular. Consumers love the bright, green ooziness of basil and white chocolate, which marries beautifully with the dark chocolate sponge. Chemistry 101 (Lower Parel) has an incredibly quirky menu too.
Restaurants are now more driven to make a particular ingredient the hero of a dish. Care is being taken in how proteins are treated, and there is precision in how the produce is plated. The focus is shifting to bringing out the natural flavours rather than hindering them with an overlay of heavy spices and masala.
The Mumbai food industry has been a kaleidoscope of flavours, textures, colours and aromas. Today, the rest of the world recognises us as a serious contender in the culinary arts. The drive, perseverance and creativity of our restaurateurs and chefs will only open us to more global avenues, making us forces to be reckoned with.
This city, with its vibrant and diverse culture, has driven all of us within the food space to really push the boundaries and carve a name for ourselves. We will always have our institutions, which, for most of us, have been some sort of a foundation, a place where the initial inspiration stemmed from. That is the beauty of this city. The new never tramples over the old.
The food industry of Mumbai is a beautiful analogy of what makes us Mumbaikars. It’s the coexistence of the old and the new, which allows us to thrive. It’s a melting pot that shapes our perceptions and a canvas that allows us to express our creativity. We constantly look to reinvent, remodel and renovate, all the while, celebrating our inner Mumbaikar.