Dine like a queen at Maharaja Bhog, Mumbai

An unlimited Rajasthani-Gujarati thali is just what a vegetarian needs on a lazy weekend. You can linger over the meal for as long as you like, savouring all those umpteen helpings of your favourite sweets, sabzis and rotis and then go home and collapse on the bed/couch/floor for the most satisfying nap you've ever had. There's something about falling asleep after a gigantic meal, isn't there? I'm a huge fan of thalis because I love variety in my food and I can honestly say that Maharaja Bhog offers one of the best Rajasthani thalis in the city.

What you get in one unlimited thali, priced at around Rs 450:
  1. Four types of vegetables
  2. Three types of roti
  3. Two types of dal
  4. Two types of kadhi
  5. Two types of rice
  6. Two kinds of farsan
  7. A special snack
  8. Three types of sweets
  9. A meetha paan
  10. Various accompaniments like papad, raita, pickles and chutneys

Pretty worth it, wouldn't you say? The Powai outlet is not very large but the ambience is classic fine dining and the customers seem to be regulars from the area. We were welcomed with a divine elixir of saffron and sandalwood, typical to Rajasthan. The empty thali plates that arrived on our table increased our anticipation even more. And then in a matter of minutes, every cup on the plate was filled to the brim with Indian delicacies. Here is a quick recap:

  • Paneer pasanda: The perfect paneer preparation with tomato-based gravy and fresh paneer chunks
  • Aloo chutneywala: A potato preparation in a chutney-based gravy; loved the sweetness of the potatoes
  • Methi leela kanda ghegho: An extremely tasty methi and dal preparation that was so different from the vegetables I normally eat
  • Desi channa Jaselmeri: A delicious channa masala that went well with the rotis
  • Phulka: The regular light rotis to mop up all the subzis
  • Beet roti: Little puffed maroon puris with a fantastic beetroot flavour
  • Baingan thepla: Gujarati thepla rotis with a hint of brinjal
  • Palak biryani: A beautiful green biryani that was packed with flavour
  • Khichdi: The right way to eat it, as the manager instructed me, is to pour a little ghee on top, add some green chutney and have a bite of papad with every morsel
Special snack
  • Stuff dahiwada: I wolfed down two of these dahi wadas served with sweet yoghurt
  • Parwal chand tara: This was something like a sabudana wada; pretty dense but enjoyable with the chutneys
  • Veg handva dholka: A spiced dhokla with an orange tinge
Sweets (my favourite)
  • Mohan thal halwa: Excellent ghee-soaked besan halwa
  • Fruit float: Creamy rabdi and rasmalai with pieces of dried fruits
  • Malpuva: Fried mawa fritters soaked in syrup and seasoned with nuts
Dal and kadhi
  • Sweet Gujarati dal and kadhi: I loved the Gujarati dal
  • Non-sweet Rajasthani dal and kadhi: I opted for the creamy Rajasthani kadhi
Every single item on my plate was lip-smacking, flavourful and not excessively oily or spicy.  I particularly loved the rasmalai and fruit float, of which I had three helpings (the third helping was not my doing - the server insisted!), the excellent beet puris with their maroon colouring, the sweet and juicy dahi wada, the bright green palak biryani and among the vegetables, the methi leela kanda ghegho and paneer pasanda although all four were exceptional. We washed down all this food with a glass of seasoned chaas (buttermilk).

The best part is you don’t have to feel shy about asking for additional helpings at all. The servers are delighted to oblige and there is even a turbaned waiter in traditional Rajasthani garb to assist you in washing your hands before and after the meal. While we did expect the thali to be supremely scrumptious, we didn’t anticipate the parcelled meetha paan at the end of the meal. A dessert after three desserts – now that’s what I call a great luncheon!

Address: First Floor, Haiko Mall, Central Avenue, Hiranandani Gardens, Powai, Mumbai
Phone:022 66930022 / 022 66930044 
Timings: 12 Noon to 3:30 PM, 7 PM to 11 PM 
Maharaja Bhog - Premium Veg Thali Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Quattro Ristorante: A birthday dinner

I’m no stranger to the soul-satisfying charms of Quattro Ristorante, an Italian and Mexican vegetarian restaurant employing the fine techniques of molecular gastronomy. I’ve been here a few times and always been bowled over by the quantity and quality of food served. The Lower Parel outlet seems small on entering but as you go beyond the corridor, the restaurant opens out into a swanky space with plush black tables and red high stools in the centre. The maître d’ is obviously passionate about the hotel and the new additions to its menu, which are the reason for my review. It also happens to be my birthday and getting an excellent corner table and the personal attention of the serving staff makes it truly special.


Corn Cookies: 5/5

The first dish turns out to be the best dish of the entire meal. The corn cookies are crumbly, sweet and salty and are topped with a layer of soft black beans, broccoli, fresh jalapenos and cheese, which is topped with a pink dollop of beetroot cream. The beetroot cream melts in the mouth and the varied textures are a winning combination.

Formaggio Di Patate: 4/5

The dish looks substantial when it comes to our table. There is a huge plate of tossed baby potatoes on a bed of lettuce, along with a serving of cheese sauce, to be poured over the potatoes and most curiously, two white balls that turn out to be ‘cheese ice-cream’. I like the fact that we get to pour as much warm cheese sauce on the potatoes as we like. The potatoes are mildly flavoured with garlic and oil and the cool and cheesy ice-cream is the winner of the dish.

Jalapeno Queso: 3.5/5

After two splendid starters, the Jalapeno Queso is slightly disappointing though by no means, unpalatable. Covered in a foamy cloud, the batter-fried spheres are simplistic, consisting mainly of a soft stuffing of Jalapeno and cheese. It’s nothing outstanding but reasonably tasty.


Pizza Margherita with Olive Burst: 5/5

An Italian (and Mexican) restaurant needs to ace its pizzas and Quattro Ristorante does exactly that. Their 12 inch Margherita pizzas are the epitome of excellence in themselves – thin crust bases with a tomato and cheese topping that oozes with the flavour and fragrance of extra virgin olive oil. And this one comes with the additional genius of their signature olive burst. The waiter proceeds to ladle quivering, large olives on to each slice and when I have a bite, I am amazed at the softness that fills my mouth. How do they transform olives into something like this? The process is called spherification, the maître d’ tells me.


Chocolate Cigars with Vanilla Ice-Cream: 5/5

My heart is set on the Chocolate Saturn but the server convinces us to try the new chocolate cigars. After an impatient (but short) wait, two cigars come arranged on a wooden box along with a serving of vanilla ice-cream. One cigar is filled with Nutella cream while the other is stuffed with sea salt caramel. We are given a small contraption to snap each cigar into two. I’m unable to decide which one is better – both are visual and sensory perfection. But the real icing on the cake is the discovery that the cigar cup (made of chocolate) and the ice-cream bowl (made of wafer) are edible as well! The maître d’ jokes that some customers even want to eat the wooden box!


Beer Mule: 5/5

Out of the three cocktails we try, this one is the best. Served in a copper glass to keep it cold till the last sip, the beer is flavoured with orange peel and mint. The result is a refreshing, zesty drink.

Wine Mule: 4/5

The original Moscow Mule is made with vodka but if you swap that with white wine, you get the Wine Mule. I don’t like it as much as the Beer Mule but it’s still a great way to have wine, if you don’t mind the bitter aftertaste due to the lime.

Michelada: 4/5

The Michelada is a work of art, served in a tall glass with tabasco sauce at the bottom and spicy salt on the rim. The waiter pours in nearly 330 ml of Kingfisher Ultra beer which mingles with the orange flavoured smoke from the ice to become the Michelada. It is the spiciest beer I’ve ever had and as someone who dislikes spicy cocktails, I don’t take to it much. But it’s definitely innovative and a great choice for lovers of Bloody Mark and its ilk.

The dishes are well complemented by a platter of eight Mexican dips and sauces. The restaurant is ideal for large families as well as groups of friends. Couples can always seek some privacy in the undisturbed corners. So if it’s filling, gourmet vegetarian food you seek, Quattro Ristorante is a must-visit.

Address: 7, Janta India Estate, Senapati Bapat Marg, Opposite Phoenix Mills, Lower Parel, Mumbai
Phone number: 022 67496444
Opening hours: 12 Noon to 4 PM, 6:30 PM to 11:30 PM (all days)

Quattro Ristorante Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Review: Grandmama's Cafe, Mumbai

The fragrance of hot, melted cheese has never failed to perk my spirits. After gorging on bowls of creamy fondue and bread in the picturesque Alps of Switzerland, I was elated to receive an invite to sample the same dish at Mumbai’s Grandmama’s Café. I decided to visit the Lower Parel outlet as it’s closer to my workplace and give their Monsoon Fondue Fest a go. Of course, it being lunch, we couldn’t possibly ignore the other sections of the menu. So a light and delicious meal was had in the cheerful environs of Grandmama’s Café, located opposite Smash in Kamala Mills Compound, best accessed from Gate 4.

Although the area is dusty and heavily industrialised, the café’s entrance is colourful and inviting. Inside, the restaurant is spacious and well-lit with lots of interesting elements such as writings and chandeliers on the walls and the ceiling. I loved the predominance of green and white in the décor. At the end of the restaurant, you have the bar and dessert counter. I was quite surprised to see that the café serves a variety of cocktails though we didn’t try any. We also skipped dessert in favour of the thick shakes. Here’s a lowdown.

Monsoon Fondue fest: Four Cheese fondue

The fondues on the menu range from spicy, meaty to classically cheesy. Being a vegetarian who can’t get enough of cheese, I chose the Four Cheese Fondue, a divine mix of Emmental, Parmesan, Mozzarella and Cheddar. It came served in an earthen bowl with a little candle at its base to keep the fondue warm, multigrain bread to dip in the fondue and a spinach fritter (there was just one!). The portion was just right for two people and the fondue was splendid. It had just a hint of spice and the consistency was creamy but not overwhelming. A great idea would be to include a variety of dips apart from bread. If you like spicy fondue, go for the Jalapeno, Paprika or Roasted Red Pepper Fondue. And if you want some bite in your fondue, there are the Grandmama's Special Chopped Macaroni Fondue and Bacon Fondue to choose from. 

Grandmama’s Special Pizza

My friend ordered the Grandmama’s Special Pizza, a thin crust 10 inch pizza with eight slices. It was basically a cheese pizza (but not too cheesy) with sun-fried tomatoes, olives, onions and bell peppers. It was slightly bland without tomato ketchup (served on a bicycle no less!) but I have to say, the pizza was very close to the authentic Italian ones and a far cry from the thick crust fast food outlet pizzas.

Caesar Salad

Before moving on to our liquid dessert, we wanted just a bit more to feel replete. So we chose the Caesar Salad, a mix of romaine and iceberg lettuce, caper berries, sun-dried tomatoes, herb croutons and parmesan. I loved the creamy Caesar dressing but I couldn’t spot any parmesan in the salad. Nevertheless, it was very tasty and a great way to fill up on greens.

Belgian Chocolate Shake

I love Belgian Chocolate in any form. Be it ice-cream, pastry or a thick shake, this is the flavour I’d go for without missing a beat. However, the shake was heavier on milk than chocolate and wasn’t as chocolatey as I’d have liked it to be. But perhaps, I should’ve asked the server exactly how it would be before ordering. Some chocolate sauce and crunchy elements might make this shake more wonderful.

Brownie Shake

Surprisingly, the brownie shake turned out to be far better than the Belgian Chocolate Shake, although sweeter. There was one small brownie in the shake and the flavour was wonderful. I’d recommend adding another brownie.

If you frequent Lower Parel or Dadar often, this café should be your go-to joint for breakfast (they have a great breakfast menu) and light lunches as it’s very easy on the pocket. The total damages for our meal wouldn’t have been more than Rs 1500 for two people. According to the manager, the Rajma Chawal and sandwiches are also worth a try. Also, despite being really crowded for a weekday afternoon, the service was seamless and prompt. All portions are meant for two people only.
Grandmama's Café Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Address: Next to Gate 4, Kamala Mills Compound, Senapati Bapat Marg, Lower Parel, Mumbai
Opening hours: 9 AM to 12 Midnight everyday
Phone number: 022 30151615