In 1853, the Mumbai Suburban Railways ran the first train between Shivaji Terminus and Thane. Today, they are a backbone for locals travelling across the city, and until a few years ago, was for me too. A journey from VT station to Dadar is only too familiar for locals, with the hustle and bustle of the compartments, trying to get a seat by the window, watching people get on and off at various stations. Among those commuting were also the city’s food delivery teams known as dabbawallas.
Every morning for them begins with stacks of dabbas or tiffins transported from homes across Mumbai to offices and back again. For office goers that enjoy a hearty home-cooked lunch, it is the highlight of their day at work and a dabbawalla in Mumbai makes this journey efficiently everyday via their network, managing a staggering 80 million lunches per year!
Inspired by these tiffin carriers and the strong institution of dabbawallas, hotelier Samyukta Nair and Rohit Ghai, co-founder and Cchef of Michelin star restaurant Jamavar London, have launched Bombay Bustle at Maddox Street.
To begin the meal, the idea of having small plates on a menu is great as you can try a little bit of everything, but what makes the small plates at Bombay Bustle so appealing is the sheer variety of dishes, flavours and a chance for diners to sample something from diverse communities across Mumbai city. From Steamed Idiyappams with soupy stews, Recheado Goan Fish, delicious Adipoli Prawns and Duck Chettinad Dosa, this menu is a celebration, and so are its flavours
I devoured the classic Maharashtrian Misal Pao; a delicious, spicy Maharashtrian breakfast dish made with sprouts, tomatoes, pungent onions and goda masala, finished with wedges of lime. Add the misal over the pao, and with every bite, I was transported back to my childhood.
The Masala Akuri, a classic Parsi addition on the menu, is an absolute revelation, cooked perfectly and served over pillowy naan with truffle shavings.
Despite all the highlights from the small plates, I recommend a visit with a big appetite to give you a chance to try the curries, sides and biryanis. My top picks include the Dum Nalli Biryani, Madras Chicken Curry with southern spices and coconut milk, and the Tareko Aloo Crispy, stir fried potatoes with chilli and spring onions. Finish the meal with Malai Jalebi, a modern take on cheesecake, topped with saffron caviar, and a creamy Rose Falooda.
The lunch tiffin is a must try and reminiscent of Nairâs school days in Mumbai, where lunch was delivered by the carriers; there will also be tiered tiffins. Each box will be presented to the table and unpacked to reveal curries, breads and rice ideal for a quick yet wholesome meal.
The food at this new space recreates some of the cityâs much-loved dishes. Mumbai is a city that thrives on diversity, tradition and history. Itâs a space where communities come together and create their identity through the food they cook and eat. For me as a Mumbaikar, it speaks volumes of the menu at Bombay Bustle.
29 Maddox Street, Mayfair, London, W1S 2PA; Bombaybustle.com
Maunika Gowardhan is an author, chef and cookery writer based in the UK. For more information, click hereÂ
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