The first of Alex Leonard’s special seven-course tasting menu as visiting chef at The Table, one of Mumbai’s most elegant restaurants, offered three vegetable-based bites. There was a glossy chunk of honeydew topped with parsley verde, a purple leaf of radicchio cradling black sesame seeds dusted with sour raw mango powder, and in the middle there was a narrow knuckle of leek, blanched and pan-seared and topped with a dab of malai, essentially a cream made by skimming layers of fat from boiling whole milk. (more…)
When I proposed to write a story about Dunkin’ Donuts and their hamburgers, I wanted to use the opportunity to make some substantive observations about India’s market for international fast-food chains.
Some companies are solidly established on the subcontinent: McDonald’s first opened in New Delhi in 1996—the first location in the world not to serve beef—and has since opened some three hundred outlets across the country. KFC has nearly 350 restaurants spread across eighty cities in India. In fact, the KFC in Bandra, my fashionable Mumbai neighborhood, is one of the area’s two most prominent landmarks, used constantly to help taxis and auto-rickshaws navigate the practically nameless streets. Dunkin’ Donuts, for its part, first opened in India in 2012, and currently has only fifty-six shops in twenty cities (they plan to open thirty more in 2016). What I hoped to find out was: How did they develop their menu? Why did they decide to include burgers, of all things? Who was their target demographic? And who decides all this stuff, anyway? (more…)
Despite a small smattering of good high-end dining options, the dining scene in Mumbai, India’s financial capital and largest city, lags far behind the capital of Delhi in terms of sophistication—and even behind cities like Bangalore and Chennai in terms of diversity. Yet the city’s cosmopolitan history and democratic culture have also imparted a long tradition of simple ‘canteens’—basic dining halls where food is plentiful, cheap, and delicious. Often served on durable tin plates or simple banana leaves, expect a healthy, hearty mix for the amount you’d pay for a coffee elsewhere. Our picks around town represent the cross-section of regional cuisines that goes well beyond what you might think of simply as ‘Indian Food.’ (more…)