Mumbai finally got what it had needed amidst all the overpriced “health food” restaurants and trendy dining eateries shooting up every other day – an authentic, nicely done up South Indian restaurant. Madras Diaries by restaurateurs Neeti Goel and Farhan Azmi offers an extensive range of long-forgotten recipes from the culinary landscape of Chennai along with some new-age combinations, with several of the ingredients and most of staff literally sourced from Tamil Nadu. Besides, with a chef called Murugan you know you just can’t go wrong here. Mind it!
Although quite compact, this place doesn’t seem small since it has an indoors and outdoors seating option. I personally preferred the outdoors section since that’s such a rarity in Mumbai, especially if the weather is pleasant. As Carnatic music wafts gently in the background, you’ll notice strings of bells on the colourful walls, overhead streams of hanging flowers and even veena shaped door handles to give it an authentic touch.
Expect a Samba with the sambhar! There is a mindboggling list of vadas, dosais, idlis, uthappams, appams and even a special thali (that’s only served during lunch). The Tahttu Idli was light and flavoursome, and possibly the most colourful idli you could ever eat. Amongst dosais, try the unique 9 grain Navadhaniya dosai and the Broccoli Vada was out of the ordinary too. To wash it all down there are options of butter milk, sharbets and filter coffee, along with fruity coolers. In desserts, I was pleasantly surprised with the warm Sapota Kesari (chiku halwa) which was rich but not swimming in ghee.
The Cheese Chilli Jalapeno Idli in Masala Fondue was delicious little pellets of jalapeno flavoured idlis with a scrumptious cheese sauce. You won’t be able to stop gorging on this!
The Mushroom Vada was really just pieces of mushrooms deeply fried.
(Madras Diaries, Shop number 7, Ground Floor, Muzaffar Manor, 117 Waterfield Road, Bandra West, Mumbai; Tel 022-65178888)
By Farhad J. Dadyburjor, Mumbai