The Malayali festival of Onam was celebrated a few days back.
The queues to get in at Deluxe in South Mumbai’s Fort are pretty long on Onam. They do a special Onam sadya (feast) here which has around 35 items. Well, they do count salt as an ‘item’ but still 35 is quite a mind boggling number.
You get a trimmed down version of the sadya on regular days too at Deluxe.
Deluxe was recommended to me by a reader as a place where Malayalis go to eat home food. Something which I saw every time I went there. I was possibly the only non-Malayali around whenever I went to Deluxe to eat.
The sadya at Deluxe, which is served on a banana leaf if you go to the first floor, is my favourite vegetarian thali after the Bengali one that I like at Bhojohori Manna. The wait staff at Deluxe will patiently explain to you what the dishes in the sadya are, in Hindi, if you want to know about them.
Like in Bhojohori Manna, you can order a non-vegetarian side dish such as the Kerala chicken, buff fry masala or fish fry and curry at Deluxe to go with your vegetarian thali. They also serve the typical Keralite biryani with short grained rice and you can also get Malabar parotta and appams too.
Another place that I like for Keralite food is Sneha in Mahim. This restaurant is a lot more basic than Deluxe. It is not air conditioned. The seating is very cramped. However, the beef fry there, made with buff now, won the Best Beef Dish in the Chowzter Asia 2015 awards. The egg roast and appams there make for a great breakfast. They also serve an interesting dish called Kappa Biryani. This is a popular wedding dish from Kerala and doesn’t have rice in it! It is made with tapioca and beef.
The clientele at Sneha, as in Deluxe, is dominated by Malayalis.
A sign of a place serving good Malayali food.
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Kalyan Karmakar authors the popular award winning blog, Finely Chopped and is an authority on the food of Mumbai. His extensive knowledge of the city's food scene has been featured in publications such as Femina, Mumbai Mirror and BCC Good Food. He was one of the founding critics of EazyDiner's Mumbai team.