I love Mumbai city for the sheer number of people from different caste, creed, and religion who inhabitate it, each rendering a different flavor to the culture of the city. This is reflected in the different food and cuisines that are available in abundance. South Indian food goes far beyond idlis and dosas, and luckily we have a few, landmark restaurants to prove that.
Mahim and Fort areas are home to a number of hidden gems, that have been serving up traditional Malayali food since years. Especially since there are so many people from the state of Kerala that have made Mumbai their home. But when you’re looking for traditional, home cooked Malayali food, your neighbors or friends house is your best bet. And even if those options are not available then a concept like ‘Poppaddum’ comes to the rescue.
What is Poppaddum?
A concept initiated by Sneha Nair; whose profession is economic research and passion is cooking. She put her flair for cooking traditional, Malayali, home food to good use through Poppaddum. It is basically a pop-up restaurant that she hosts every Sunday at her place and serves some delicious food that she whips up. It is a fun concept where not only do you get to try out some traditional Kerala cuisine but also get to meet some interesting, like-minded foodies.
A friend of mine came across her Sunday menu on the Small Fry Facebook page and shared it with me. We read the menu, and we were hooked. Mainly because it was supposed to be a fishetarian meal. Three of us mailed her, signed up, and waited expectedly for Sunday afternoon to arrive.
Sunday afternoon arrives and we trail to Bandra East, to Sneha’s kitchen. We sit like a bunch of hungry school children on mats on the floor, drooling at the smells that waft through the kitchen. Finally everyone arrives! The banana leaves are placed in front of us and the fun begins.
The Meen Varthathu or fish fry in shallots masala, was crispy and deep fried to the point of no return. I was anxious when Sneha told me she was serving Bangda fish (or mackerel for the anglicised). Now Bangda is my least favorite only because of the number of bones it has. It takes far too much effort to eat through this fish. But the Bangda we were served were tiny, and fried so well that the bones were edible. We crunched our way through a number of these babies.
The Mangzha Perka or the raw mango chutney with coconut and yogurt was hands down the winner that afternoon. We’ve all eaten coconut chutney, but this one was so beautifully flavored with raw mango. The ‘kairi’ and yogurt gave the chutney such a spicy tangy taste. I had spoonfuls of this chutney raw, and later mixed it with my rice and gobbled it down.
The Meen Curry which is a Kerala fish curry and rice was up next. Lovely flavor of tamarind all through the curry here. Sneha’s fish curry-rice is added to my list of comfort foods, it was so homely and delicious.
How could a meal at Poppaddum be complete without poppaddum? And some delicious raw mango pickle on the side.
After what seemed like gazillion helpings of rice and those beautiful, tiny bangdas I was done. And ready to pass out into a food coma. We took a break from all the eating to chit-chat and get to know each other a tad bit better. Then we got back to the serious work of eating….this time dessert!
My Malayali friends from college would bring payasam for us on every birthday. I’ve only eaten the one made of milk and vermicelli, and always thought that was the only variant. We were going to try the Cherupayar Payasam which is lentils in jaggery syrup. I’m not too much of a jaggery fan so I did not enjoy this. I found it a tad bit heavy. But I guess that was because of the amount of food we had already stuffed in. Wish I could’ve had some of the milk payasam.
Final Verdict: Go for the absolutely delicious, homely Kerala food. And the fun company that comes free along with it. 700 bucks for the meal may be slightly on the pricier side considering you could get a similar thali at one of the Fort restaurants for less than half the price. But are you getting to hang out with and meet some interesting people along with ghar ka khana?
The Poppaddum Facebook page here has all the important details you may need regarding the further Sunday lunches.