Mustard Mumbai – Heart and Soul food
Mustard Mumbai opens its doors!
Mustard Mumbai, the latest entrant to the ever-expanding foodie scene makes a debut that will warm the cockles of your heart and have you rolling up your sleeves to dive into the finger-lickin’ food. Bringing some cheer to the otherwise ghostly Atria mall, Mustard Mumbai curates French and Bengali heirloom recipes and presents them in a fresh avatar. East meets West with mustard as the common ground!
You do have a short 2 minute walk through the gloom and doom of a deserted mall to get to Mustard Mumbai. Once you do walk through the door, the expanse of space that runs the length of the restaurant is invitation enough. An all-white decor manages to convey a sense of brightness and warmth with an artful use of wooden tones and ye old world furniture.
Not fusion at all!
Mustard Mumbai offers 2 distinct dining experiences with the Bengali kitchen helmed by the deeply knowledgeable food researcher, historian and writer, Pritha Sen. The French kitchen is led by Gregory Bazire. We decided to stick to the Bengali menu for our first meal. I must admit the Lobster Thermidor bites really tested our resolve though!
Eats shoots and leaves!
Pritha delivers Bengali food from an ‘undivided’ Bengal. This means we can go beyond Panch phoron to tasting some authentic (erstwhile) East Bengal cuisine at last. Pritha’s root-to-leaf philosophy resonates deeply with me. It brings back fond memories of a delicious dish made by my grandma using leftover peels. I have always thought that the amazing vegetarian Bengali food is eclipsed by all the Mangsho and Maach. It’s great to see Bengali vegetarian food getting its moment in the sun as well.
Fish done 4 ways
Our first appetizer on Pritha’s recommendation is the Macher thala – Fish done 4 ways accompanied by ragi and bajra crackers. A pumpkin mash flavored with fish-head,a fish roe relish, a Bombay duck pate and a prawn pate. Distinct flavours and each one competing to outdo the other – a Bengali mezze platter. Nice!
Update from subsequent visits – the smoked fish is novel enough with a dense, woody under-current. The paturi or mustard steamed fish is good though a trifle on the dry side.
Red meat lovers unite!
Next up the Shami kebabs showcasing the Muslim influence on Bengali food. Delicately flavoured and just the thing for red meat lovers. I could have easily put away another serving of these delicious meat patties but not much else after that. Do not miss tasting the killer house mustards while you are at it!
You can take a Bengali out of Kolkata but you can’t take the love for Kosha mangsho out of a Bengali. The Kosha mangsho aka mutton is served with a portion of fluffy, luchis or puris, some cholar or chana dal and tomator chutney. The centre stage is clearly occupied by the heavenly Kosha mangsho. A lot of restaurants think an excess of oil and spices makes for a good KM but the secret really is slow cooking. The meat is painstakingly fried in oil or ghee till it takes on the lovely bhuna colour. All pretense of etiquette was abandoned, sleeves rolled up and the luchis used to scoop up the last bits of the kosha mangsho goodness.
The dark horse (literally, with its black masala) is the til tel kathi – fatty pork grilled with pineapple. Unusual and highly addictive this!
Banana blossoms and so do I!
Could something take us higher after the mangsho and the answer was a surprising, resounding YES! The banana blossom stir fry or Mochar ghonto at Mustard Mumbai is to die for. The dish I would ask for if it were my last meal on earth – that good! The brown chana peeking from between the banana blossoms and the smattering of crumbled bodi (fried wadis) topping the mocha. This dish tasted just like the one my grandma used to make – truly heritage, homestyle recipes being showcased. One morsel of the mocha tasted and I had to rise to pay tribute and thank the chef. If it’s one dish to visit Mustard for, it’s this one, it’s this one, it’s this one.
Update from subsequent visits – try the doi posto potol. A comforting mix of both posto (khus-khus) and mustard paired with the most Bengali of vegetables, potol or pointed gourd. It’s definitely not a standard dish to be found in other Bengali restaurants. This is one dish I definitely want to try and recreate at home!
I finally managed to break the ‘Bengali food only’ barrier and sample 2 of the French dishes on a subsequent visit. The generous serving of the French onion soup comes with gruyere topped toasts and is filling enough to be a meal in itself! The Lobster Thermidor bites were a bit underwhelming with the choux dominating over the fresh taste of the lobster. More experiments to follow…
Chocolate and Doi for moi
The bhapa or steamed doi (curd) was the dessert of choice though the son managed to have us deviate from the all Bengali meal and try the chocolate tart as well. The bhapa doi was good but the milk needed to be thickened more for that caramelly flavour. Or maybe I am just partial to the taste of the bhapa doi that my Mom makes. The chocolate tart tasted great! Couverture chocolate aka Callebaut or others of the ilk had been used to deliver that dense chocolate flavour.
Mustard needs at least one tryout to support anyone attempting to do things differently. The need of the hour is repeat visits with different sets of people! The French cuisine needs a fair and proper trial too. The temptation to revert to childhood conditioning and order the Bengali comfort food is overwhelming!