I took a trip to Mumbai over the weekend, and ate a hearty meal of Indian curries, basmati rice and garlic naan.
Well…to be honest..I didn’t actually fly to the wealthiest city in India – I wouldn’t have been able to make it there and back to Buenos Aires in an entire weekend. I would have loved to visit India again, and breathe in the vibrancy which enchanted me when I went there in 2009. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to visit Mumbai, the Western Indian city once known as Bombay, in my first and last trip to India. But I’d love to do so one day.
Mumbai – the city where Bollywood was born.
Mumbai is the city which gave birth to the “Bollywood” film industry, and is said to be very musically and culturally colorful. Being the fourth most populous city in the world with approximately 20.5 million inhabitants, Mumbai is India’s commercial and entertainment capital, and draws tourists far and near with its eclectic cultural vibes.
The other Mumbai – the restaurant in Palermo, Buenos Aires.
Since it was physically impossible for me to actually visit the city of Mumbai, I took the easier way out and satisfied my months-long craving for Indian food by driving over with Juan to our favorite Indian restaurant in town, which is aptly named “Mumbai”.
It had been ages since our last food hunt at Mumbai, and we’d been very unfortunately procrastinating our next visit to the restaurant. However, a sudden urge to eat hot, spicy, authentic Indian curries in a beautiful environment, with real Indians serving us, drove us there on a cool Spring Saturday night.
Located in the heart of the Palermo Viejo neighbourhood, at Honduras 5684, Buenos Aires, Mumbai is tucked in an unassuming corner, with only the signboard and the long red and white curtains giving away its Indian background.
Once inside, you’re transported into a different world, somewhere in regal Asia, where the Rajas still reign and beautiful silk fabrics envelope you. Little statues of Indian gods decorate the place, not in excess but more as a side touch, giving the place an authentic feel. Dim lights illuminate the area, together with tabletop candles, and the walls are filled with black and white photos of historical Indian places, and the occasional sacred elephant.
Juan and I always fall back on the same simple but comforting dishes.
We can’t seem to grow sick of chapati, chicken tikka masala (curry with chicken cooked in the tandoor), goshi sagwala (curry with mutton and spinach), white basmatic rice, and fragrant garlic naan.
(On a side note, since we throw the word “curry” around rather easily and without much thought, I’d like to share what I learned in Wikipedia. “Curry” is actually a generic term primarily employed in Western culture to denote a wide variety of dishes whose origins are Indian, Pakistani, Bangladeshi, Sri Lankan, Thai or other Southern and Southeastern Asian cuisines, as well as New World cuisines influenced by them such as Trinidadian or Fijian. Their common feature is the incorporation of more or less complex combinations of spices and/or herbs, usually (but not invariably) including fresh or dried hot chillies.)
One fun fact about the Chicken Tikka Masala:
Chicken tikka masala is chicken tikka, chunks of chicken marinated in spices and yogurt, that is then baked in a tandoor oven, served in a masala (“mixture of spices”) sauce. A tomato and coriander sauce is common, but there is no standard recipe for chicken tikka masala; a survey found that of 48 different recipes, the only common ingredient was chicken. How totally random and cool is that?
I like how the buttery taste of chicken tikka masala combines with freshly baked garlic naan, exuding the most beautiful flavors that explode in your mouth. Combining the thick mutton curry with fresh basmatic rice neutralizes the strong flavor of mutton with the pure plainess of the rice, creating an uncommon sweetness I’ve rarely tasted.
Given that everytime I visit Mumbai, I eat up every single grain of rice, and drink every spoonful of curry, and leave the place so full and satisfied that I could fall asleep immediately, I desperately urge everyone who’s in Buenos Aires and has a liking for Indian food to try it out.
I’m giving Mumbai an 8.5/10, because it never fails to meet my expectations.
So go visit it! Give it a try! You won’t regret!
Take yourself on a virtual trip to Mumbai, and delight in its mouthwatering dishes!