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Biryani, Chaat And More: How To Eat Like An Expat in Mumbai

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Have friends dropping in from abroad, but don’t know where to take them? Are they worried that Indian food may not suit their palate and they will land up sick? Or maybe you’re just curious to know an expat’s favourite spots in the city. These are my five favourites, which might answer some of your questions.


Tourist trap or not, this beloved Mumbai institution churns out impeccably fresh seafood year-round. The ambience may not be the most contemporary, but that’s a part of the charm for me.

I usually start with small crispy fried prawns koliwada, then head straight for the biggest crab they have, prepared in their insanely addictive butter garlic sauce. Eat that with a few rumali rotis and a Hyderabadi dal, and I’m all set.


Pani puri holds a special place in my heart, as it does for most Mumbaikars. To get the best taste of this unique type of chaat, I head to Elco where everything is fresh and hygienically prepared, so I’m not risking a week-long illness because of my appetite.

The Bombay Canteen

For me, this restaurant is the embodiment of everything good about Mumbai’s new wave of contemporary Indian restaurants, TBC is everything you expect from a great restaurant. With creative food and drinks, great service and ambiance, a night out at this local favorite is a night well spent. New additions pop onto the menu frequently, but I can’t go without ordering the barley salad, pork vindaloo desi tacos, and the whole roasted snapper.

Swati Snacks

Chaat is life in Mumbai. Whenever I get the craving I make the pilgrimage to Swati Snacks, where they serve a wide variety of street food favorites. Try the pani puri, sev puri, and sabudana khichdi.

Dum Pukht

Few Indian restaurants showcase the same level of finesse and purity as this temple of Awadhi cuisine, and nothing demonstrates that cooking prowess more than the signature Dum Pukht biryani. Layers of aromatic basmati rice and delicate mutton come together to create a deceptively simple dish which is quite possibly my favorite bite of food in India. Biryani aside, try the impossibly soft kakori kebabs which seem to defy the laws of physics.