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A Maharashtrian friend of mine once told me that they love their meat in the interiors of the state, especially in Kolhapur. He told me that meat has to be mutton here. Chicken is an exception.
As Vir Sanghvi’s article pointed out, what we call ‘mutton’ in India is actually goat meat.
While there are a number of places that offer ‘Kolhapuri mutton’ in Mumbai, those in the know say that the oily dish served here is not the real deal. Your safest bet in Mumbai for this would be a chain called Purepur Kolhapur. The jury is divided on this too. I have quite enjoyed the dishes I have eaten in the Dadar outlet, but I have not been to Kolhapur. Plus, the quality differs across its outlets.
Mutton has fallen out of the fancy of city folks, with the health media extolling the virtues of chicken. Yet, there are those who argue that Indian free range mutton is a better bet than poultry chicken.
I do not know the answers to this debate, but can guide you to some of my favourite places for regional mutton dishes in Mumbai.
To have a traditional coastal Malvani mutton dish, try out Hotel Kshirsagar in Parel and Sadichha in Bandra East. I prefer the sukka mutton, which is served in a spicy, grated coconut-based base, to the curried mutton masala. This is traditionally paired with vade, which are thick puris. The mutton is tender. The spices can make you sweat.
On the coconut-based masala theme, but with a higher curry leaf quotient, is the Keralite mutton fry, which you get at places such as Hotel Deluxe in Fort and Sneha Restaurant in Mahim and in the other Keralite places in the city. This is best paired with Malabar, flour-based and slightly sweetish, thick parathas.
The Parsis love their mutton and you must try out the mutton dhansak at Ideal Corner in Fort. It is not served every day though. Here, the mutton is cooked in lentils (dal) and served with caramelized rice. The version at Ideal Corner is my favourite.
You can also try out the sali boti, where a mutton gravy is served along with sali (potato straws) at the newly opened SodaBottleOpenerWala in Bandra Kurla Complex. The meat is very tender and the sauce is not too sweet here.
Mutton preparations are a part of the city’s Muslim community’s diet as well. The mutton fry masala at Olympia Coffee House in Colaba is a lovely dish.
You also get a very nice nalli nihari, served with marrow bones, at Gallops at the Race Course. Go there in the rains for a lovely view to go with your meal.
Mutton rolls are special in Kolkata and I like the version you get at Hangla’s in Bandra. They offer the kabab style mutton that you get in the Nizam’s of Kolkata here. The paratha could have been a bit thinner but is acceptable. Request them to fry the onions as that adds to the taste. Do not skip the green chillies and the lime juice.
Unfortunately, I am yet to come across a good kosha mangsho in the city’s Bengali restaurants, as some of the mutton turns out to be chewy in the options here.
I found a lovely equivalent of a patla mangshor jhol or home-styled Bengali mutton curry recently. This was not in a Bengali restaurant but in Masala Bay at the Taj Lands End Hotel. The dish is the brain child of Bengali executive chef, Anirudhya Roy, and the recipe is that of the mother of Masala Bay chef, Amarinder Sandhu. The quality of the mutton, which is imported from Delhi, is excellent and the curry is served in a pressure cooker and serves four.
Which is your favourite place for mutton in Mumbai?
Follow Kalyan Karmakar @ Finelychopped
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.