Indigo: the Bollywood dining mecca in Mumbai

Only a block stroll from the iconic Taj Mahal hotel and the colonial past evoking Gate of India, nestles a trendy hotspot for the Bollywood celebrities and idols seeking crowd. Indigo has been attracting the innovation driven and internationally themed food zealots living, traveling or simply passing through Mumbai in the past 15 years. Its success is supported by three pillars of attraction.
Baby Beets Horseradish Pana Cotta, Herbs & Petit Greens
First, you can trust its high quality ingredients and carefully guarded hygienic preparation, which in India can save you an unpleasant fight with a food or water contaminated infection.
Second, the menu evolves constantly. The chefs’ thrill for new lavish marriages between worldly ingredients and western cooking techniques never bores the regular diners. I was impressed by the delightful first course of Baby Beets tossed with lettuce leafs, herbs and bread crisps, that was curiously paired with a jelly-textured horseradish pana cotta. The milky texture of the savoury pana cotta seasoned with pungent horseradish was an unexpected turn in the meal. Rather uncommon blend, yet with the chef’s sensitive touch the result tasted wonderfully.
There are many more surprising culinary concoctions such as the Pressed Watermelon Chilli Vodka (yes in your food) with Whipped Feta, Fennel and Pumpkin Seeds or French Farm Foie Gras Terrine Pickled Rhubarb, Rhubarb Soup, Fruit Nut Brioche. Who would think of serving goose liver with a rhubarb soup? Certainly not a common foodie like me.
Ravioli with cream sauce and parmesan shavings
Rahul Akerkar, co-owner and chef, spent many years in New York, where, while earning a master’s degree in  biochemical engineering from Columbia University, he was making money at various restaurant kitchens. This taste driven American experience drew him into the western culinary world. His international magic is stamping the entire menu.
These second courses give you a glimpse into the chef’s gastronomic soul bringing Italy together with Canada or Austria in one dish:
Pumpkin & Goat Cheese Tortellini Carrot Ginger Puree, Spiced Pecan
Chilean Sea Bass In Cardamom Tomato Minestrone Blue Mussels, Squid Ink Spaetzle – doughy spaetzle with mussels and fish? It cannot get more unconventional.
The chef of Indigo
In an interview for Huffington Post’s Perry Garfinkel the chef explained the reasons for his admiration of Western cuisine: “Subtlety. Less truly can be more in the kitchen. Why cover up the real taste of fish or lamb or delicate greens? It’s a young chef’s insecurity that makes him or her try to do too much with a recipe.
Although, the chef uses unheard of combinations, he still uses much less spices and sauces than a typical Indian food would have usually done.
His groundbreaking culinary zeal earned him recognition not just in India, but Indigo ranked 28 in the Asia’s top 50 restaurants awards by san Pellegrino and Aqua Panna.
Many vegetarian options such as the Seared Tofu With Tentsuyu Broth Vegetable Gyoza, Sweet Shitake and Daikon are a trip further to the east, unlike his previous more western directed dishes. The chef, like many of his professional cohorts, did not escape the global infatuation with Japanese ingredients.
Desert at Indigo
The deserts do not lag behind. From freshly made homemade ice cream (many rather unusual flavours), through sizzling hot soufflé to heavenly chocolate treats the pastry chef remains in the same adventurous spirit as the savoury dishes.
I went for the Pineapple Upside Down Cake adorned with Charred Peppery Pineapple, Chili Caramel and a scoop of Rosemary Ice Cream. The cake burst into a full life with the spicy chili flare and aromatic herbal ice cream.
Indigo terrace
Indigo’s third pillar of success lies in its location and design. Heavy wood, simple lines and distinct glass lamps penetrate the entire structure creating a no-fuss yet homy environment. Housed in a historic wood beamed Victorian mansion it blends an aura of several climates. The upper outdoor terrace is adorned with exotic trees offering breezy freshness that is multiplied by the whizz of swaying electric fans. It is only open for dinner during the more pleasant winter months.
The dining rooms (The Yellow Room on the ground level and bigger Main Room with a Shiva blue reflecting pool along one of its walls) are dedicated to pure food pleasure. While entering through a long bar hall lined up with tall bar stools on one hand and straw meshed lounge chairs celebrates social merriment. The Burgundy room is the scene for wine dinners and private dining functions. The choice of ambiances is abundant.
Torbreck Barossa Valley Australia
Drinks: The wine list with a broad-reaching international selection including Indian wines by the glass and bottle was awarded with the “Award of Excellence” by Wine Spectator from 2001 to 2010. In India proper storage, temperature control as well as correct serving temperature of wines are a common problem. Our bottle of the Australian red beauty Torbreck was in a perfect condition. From Barossa Valley, the almost 10 years old wine held up very well. Still powerful, yet more smooth after the substantial ageing process. The sommelier was enthusiastic, yet his expert wine knowledge was not up to the standards I would expect from a Wine Spectator awarded establishment.
Opening hours: Daily for lunch: 12noon – 4:00 pm; Dinner 7:00 pm – 1:00 am.
Address: 4,Mandlik Road,Near Taj Mahal Hotel,Colaba,Mumbai.
Contact: Tel: +(91) 22 6636 8980

Ziya: pioneering modern Indian gastronomy in Mumbai

Ziya is a fine Indian restaurant with a streamlined statement – bold, glowing, elegant, smooth and proud to be counselled by the celebrity (Netflix and Masterchef judge in India) chef Vineet Bhatia. He is considered as the father of modern Indian cuisine and was the first Indian chef to be awarded a Michelin star (in 2001 at London’s Zaika).

Ziya at the Oberoi hotelModern interior
Dining at Ziya can be a romantic affair. In its tuned down ambiance focus your gaze on the Arabian sea flushing the shores of Mumbai, hold the hands of your loved one and savour together the impeccable symphony of flavours created by the indian chefs.
Indian breads and dips
The busy and trendy Nariman Point, where the Oberoi hotel with Ziya inside is located, invites to a dynamic lunch or dinner out. Particularly if you imbibe in watching the rattling chefs at work inside the windowed kitchen. It is like an Indian top chef show live. One can learn how to toss and throw a colossal naan bread while dining, it looks like a Roman pizzaiolo skilfully whirling a pizza. You will be served a wide selection of indian breads, next to seasoned naan, chewy rotis and crispy poppadoms, accompanied by a holi festival coloured dips. The grassy green is based on mint, while the flamingo pink is a blend of beetroot and yoghurt, no artifice.
Indian Vegetarian tofu
The restaurant’s name is derived from the word diya, which means ‘glow, light, and splendour.’ The interior was designed to reflect this glory. Golden glowing panels, doors and luxurious chairs, ‘magic’ handmade carpets and ostentatious tableware.

The food is not the less subdued, flashing with flavours and original interpretations of classical indian fare.
Its brain is the London-based chef Bhatia (who closed his wonderful Rasoi there), who visits the restaurant throughout the year. His role is to supervise the chefs’ technical expertise, the recipes as well as presentation of the dishes. His innovative approach to Indian cooking at his London restaurant (now named Kama inside Harrods) was born in Mumbai. He mingles between here and his growing global emporium of restaurants from Dubai (Indego at Grosvenor House Hotel was very good when we went in 2018) to Geneva (Rasoi disappointed us a few years ago).
Indian Vegetarian brocoli dishMushroom Galauti
The menu is constantly evolving, but always contemporary Indian with a wide-choice of vegetarian plates, that are exquisite. One could easily enjoy giving up meat with food so delicious as this. A multi-course tasting menu is on offer, but we went à la carte. At Zaika I would highly recommend to loosen your stereotypical self and go for the new, yet unexplored dishes suggested by the waiters. Every single bite there was exquisite. Whether it was lamb, rice, the grilled paneer cheese or sweet and rich broccoli.

Fratelli Indian ChardonnayGuigal Cote-Rotie Syrah blend

Beverage selection is very good for Indian standards. An international wine list spans from Australia, through India to France and the US. Finding Indian wines abroad is not easy, therefore I went for a glass of Chardonnay made by Fratelli wines. Fratelli is one of the biggest wine producers in India making enjoyable, easy drinking fruity wines from mainstream varietals. A nice aperitif.
To follow, we went for a bottle of French, Rhone Valley blend from Côte-Rôtie by one of the best producers E.Guigal. Its spicy Syrah character accompanies the fragrant indian seasoning very well.

Opening hours: Lunch: 12:30 pm – 2:45 pm; Dinner: 7:00 pm – 11:30 pm.
The Oberoi Hotel, Nariman Point, Mumbai 400021, India.
Tel: +(91) 22 6632 5757
Visit: November 2013
Price: High (top Indian chef, one of the best Mumbai’s hotels, luxurious interiors = very expensive)

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