Mumbai is a foodie’s dream. No really. I know yesterday I wrote about missing certain foods here. It’s true that I do long for some of the things I ate in the US. But that doesn’t take away from the possibilities that Mumbai offers. The leaps and bounds by which the Indian culinary world has grown in the past decade is phenomenal. I get lemon grass and basil at my local market and if I step into a department store nearby I also get galangal and kaffir lime leaves, which means I can have Thai any night of the week. Which is more than I can say about San Jose where I once had to order Thai ingredients by mail because I couldn’t get galangal and kaffir lime leaves in the stores near by place. I am glad I live in the heart of Hiranandani, Powai one of the most cosmopolitan areas in Mumbai where I can get all kinds of international foods (well not chipotle chilies in adobo sauce, but I’m going to stop nitpicking!) if I walk into GNB. Several kinds of pastas, olives, capers and sauces I have not seen even in US department stores because they sell US food and here we get imports from all around the world, especially Europe, so we see a lot of European goodies. At GNB I am like my husband used to be at Fry’s in Santa Clara. I want to buy everything. Come to think of it hubby also becomes like that. I usually go there alone, but at one visit he accompanied me and bought 3 kinds of wines and 3 kinds of cheese! It was up to me to find ways to use up that cheese later.
The issue of course is the accessibility to it in terms of cost. Most of the items cost as much as they do in dollars, only we don’t get paid in dollars anymore. So I can’t simply stock up my pantry anymore and hope to find a recipe. I shop only for ingredients I need at a time. Unless of course I go to Alfa. Then I am in candy land. My only trip there I entered the store and was so excited that I stood still for a second and stared at all the goodies. I almost ran out of cash at the check out counter because I bought so much stuff, some of which I still have, but let’s just say it was worth it. Then of course there is Crawford Market. I have only been able to make a small trip there to check out what all is available and I was stumped by the rows and rows of beautiful produce. The image of glorious oranges right at the entrance is stuck in my head. And the stacks upon stacks of dry fruits and nuts. Such indulgence! I wasn’t able to buy much because we were in a hurry to get back; but I did manage to grab some baking pans from Arife which I had lost in transit.
I have all this information thanks to Shaheen’s page. I was so frustrated initially by the lack of good ingredients that I just typed “baking in bombay” in google and found this delicious page. And from her, links to other foodies in Bombay who are now on my Twitter timeline and share their wealth of information about the culinary happenings in Mumbai. But you know what I still miss, the extracts – vanilla and almond. I had a friend bring me a bottle of each in December but supplies are running low. I know I can make my own but who has six weeks? So if someone at GNB is listening will you please get some extracts in your store.
The other issue of accessibility is distance. We live outside town, far far away from all the good restaurants. Well it’s not really that far in terms of distance but in terms of time it is completely unpredictable. You never know when you will get there unless you are traveling by a local. Mumbai traffic is such. You can only venture out at certain times and be sure of a reasonably smooth ride. At other times you must be brave to venture out with a 21-month-old who screams bloody murder if he is made to sit in a car for too long. Which I am not and neither is the hubby. So we satiate ourselves with trips to the good restaurants in the area like Mainland China, Spaghetti Kitchen (heavily favored for the presence of high chairs for the baby) and Cafe Mangii or take out. It will take some getting used to; the city tempts us to get our feet wet. But we resist; it is too soon. Still the possibilities exist. And that is motivation enough.
Yet we have had some foodie adventures in Mumbai which are going to be the topic of tomorrow’s post- perhaps.