The Konkan stretch, from Raigad, Maharashtra, to the upper reaches of Karnataka, is one of the most scenic sites in India. Isolated beaches, historical forts, quirky towns and some mouth-watering food.
In Mumbai, you are bound to find many places that serve either Malvani, Konkani, Goan or Manglorean food. There’s one place, though, that serves up all of these.
People who visit Konkan Cafe at Vivanta by Taj (the erstwhile Taj President) often come back raving about it. In all honesty, this small hotel at Cuffe Parade has far better eateries than its more glamourous cousin at Apollo Bunder. There’s Thai Pavilion, which every Thai food lover in the city swears by. And rightly so. There’s Trattoria, the immensely popular Italian restaurant. And there’s Konkan Cafe, which tops my list of the best non-vegetarian eateries in the city.
The food served is homely, delightfully flavoured and well-cooked. The service is great and for people like me who find menus an interminable puzzle, they have a non-vegetarian thali.
My thali on Sunday comprised a Pomfret Recheado (fish cooked in a Goan mix of spices), Mutton Konkani and chicken in a yellow gravy. The thali also had rice, sambhar, rasam and a vegetarian dish and the latter was mostly left untouched. In addition to the gravies in the thali, you can choose between appams, neer dosa and kerala parathas.
The Pomfret Recheado is highly recommended. There’s a very quiet, satisfying pleasure in eating fish that is fresh, specially when you don’t have to to spend agonising time picking the bones out of the fish. Another fish preparation high on the list is Meen Polichettu, a fillet of fish steamed in a banana leaf with spices.
The Mutton Konkani was a fiery-looking red curry that reminded me of the equally famous Rajasthani mutton curry, Laal Maas. Just like its cousin up north, the gravy looks far scarier than it actually is. One can’t miss the taste of ground red chillies, but it’s not very harsh on the tongue. Moreover, the meat was tenderly cooked, almost melting in the mouth.
The thali has a complementary dessert, where you can choose between a combination of jalebi and kulfi or payasam. The payasam is not overtly sweet and you can taste that raw flavour of jaggery, which makes it even more authentic.
Konkan Cafe, Vivanta by Taj, Cuffe Parade, Mumbai.
Meal for 2 without drinks is around Rs. 3,000.
You don’t need to make a reservation before-hand.