Having grown up going to erstwhile Madras where my grandparents lived, I have developed great fondness for the local food. In fact I thoroughly enjoy the varied flavours of food across Southern India. While I am otherwise a carnivore, vegetarian delicacies in Southern food appeal immensely to my palate, perhaps more than non-vegetarian too.
Madras Diaries, naturally, conjured up images of lip-smacking South Indian fare and opened a floodgate of memories too. This new restaurant which opens tomorrow, Ocotber 11, 2017, is located in Bandra West Mumbai off Waterfield Road.
The colourful and vibrant decor, with the Southern leitmotif conspicuously running through in the design elements, catches your eye immediately as you enter. The seating is cosy and offers sufficient privacy.
Neeti Goel of Nom Nom and Farhan Azmi of Basilico have endeavoured to revive lost recipes and Chef Murugan and his team execute this with authenticity and precision.
The menu, looked inviting from word go and I was keen to try a lot of the delicacies from the South. The hint of innovation in some dishes on the menu enhances its appeal.
Cheese Chilli Jalapeno Idli in Masala Fondue was what we started with. The bite-sized idlis were delicious and paired well with the spicy fondue.
The big idli swathed in the fiery podi got my instant vote. The ragi dosa, which came next, bore testimony to their efforts to cook with forgotten grains. The accompanying sambar is easily the best I have had in a long time in Mumbai. The podis- made with lentils and spices, packed a punch and the pachadis, were delectable and enhanced the dining experience. Some pachadis were curd based, others made from vegetables tempered with spices and curry leaves. The freshness shone through and I ate each one with relish.
The food here struck me as authentic, clean and made with fresh ingredients. The contemporary twist in some cases was exciting and acceptable. The aroma of home-made ghee was evident in each dish. The options in each section- be it idlis, vadas, dosas or utthapams was tremendous.
Among dosas, Pesarattu made with green moong dal and Dhavangere Benne made with rice and urad dal were my other favourites. The coconut chutney was quintessentially home style and bursting with freshness.
If you happen to visit Madras Diaries during lunch, you can enjoy the light vegetarian meal which showcases five treasured specials from the Southern region along with sambhar, rasam, curd, rice and the option of choosing two accompaniments from Dosai, Malabari Parotta, Appam & Chappathi.
Apart from dosas, idlis and vadas, there are a plethora of other options too. Choose from the crispy, flaky, soft Malabari Parotta, or the Kambu Roti made with pearl millet or the Chilly Parotta with Salsa and Onion Raita to be relished with vegetable kurma and raita. Pillowy soft ‘Appams,’ too are on offer and one can savour these with a hot vegetable stew or ‘ulli theyal,’ a gravy with onions and coconut.
How can you leave a South Indian restaurant without eating payasam? I too did not. I relished the tender coconut payasam as well as the chiku halwa or sapota kesari which was an absolute surprise.
You may enjoy the rasam shots during your meal, as I did, but a filter coffee at the end of your meal is a must.
Madras Diaries ensures you don’t necessarily have to trek to Matunga for authentic South Indian food. The fare on offer here is homely, rustic and mouth-watering.
I stepped out with a little bit of Madras on my palate.