Category Archives: Dear Uncle Knife

>Steaks at Colaba


Hi Kalyan,

This is S… have been reading your blog for the past one and a half years, signing off comments as esskay.

Needed your take on where to get the best beef steak for dinner in Colaba? My friends and me don’t mind the quaint old settings but was wondering if New Martin’s corner will be open for dinner or no. Since, the steak on your blog from there looked scrumptious…

Or, should we stick to Mondy’s? Leopold will be very crowded, I guess. What about Cafe Churchill. Neither of us have actually tried these places out so we don’t have any reference to fall back on.
Please do help …
Well I love the steaks at Martins. Partly for the fried onions. Deep fried meat. How wrong can you go with that? They are open at night though chances of getting steaks post 8.45 pm is a bit less.

The food at Leopolds is very iffy.

If steak is your thing then Mondys is a very very good bet. I was taken there by a Mondys steak lover. Turned out that the young lady new her meat.

Churchill is a lovely old school conti place. We are fans of the sausage in firecracker sauce and prawn Newberg pasta. But everything we have had there has been good



Filed under Colaba Mon Ami, Dear Uncle Knife, South Mumbai

>Any idea about the Vashi Spice Market?


Hello Kalyan,

Trust you are doing good.
The reason for this mail is that one of my friends is visiting us from
USA. He got to know about some spice market in Vashi which we plan to
visit. I checked it online and it looks like a wholesale MKt. I
believe there are 5 markets and market 1 is the spice mkt. Would you
have any idea about this place ? Is it worth visiting ?


Filed under Dear Uncle Knife

>The secret to firm noodles


Scarlett: How come my noodles are never so firm & separate? They always end up in a soggy, gloopy mass ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

Possibly because you don’t have a spouse who walked out of the house when you served her soggy noodles. The next day I went to a thelawallah (noodle cart guy) outside my office at Nariman Point where I used to work then. The guys at the cart in their vests and loongis (Indian sarongs) were perplexed to see the earnest thin young executive in white pinstripes and black trousers come up to them and ask them about the secret to firm noodles. Well, whatever they said worked. Noodles never turned out to be soggy after that. There were no more noodle related walkouts.

The trick is to put the noodles in boiling water and take them out the moment the moment the noodles lose their stiffness. You can check this with a fork. Err on the side of being uncooked to be on the safe side. Noodles shouldn’t be in the boiling water for more than 2-3 minutes

Post draining, rinse under cold water and add a bit of oil to make it foolproof and separate with a fork. I don’t add oil at this stage though.

Should work.

@MonikaManchanda was tweeting today on cooking tips. Check for the hashtag #CookingTips Or go to her blog post on Sin-A-Mon. There is a tip on pasta which is on similar lines. Pasta will take more time than noodles of course. 


Filed under Dear Uncle Knife, Oriental, Recipes

>Where do you get eggs and meat at Ahmedabad

>Frantic FB mail from Archana Bhui of Limited Means, Unlimited Dreama . Please help:

Kalyan.. HELP!! Im in Gujjuland (Ahmedabad). Need to know where can I find a decent cold storage or non-veg food sections around CG Road. Even getting half a dozen eggs is a problem here. Cud u run an SOS for me ๐Ÿ™‚


Filed under Dear Uncle Knife

>Calling the vegetarian helpline for Mumbai eats

>“Kalyan – I randomly read your blog at times – Finely chopped. I enjoy the reads. I needed your help with some recommendations. My family friends will be visiting town and wanted to give them a taste of Mumbai restaurants…

If you find time, can you please send me your top 10 picks – the only caveat is that they should serve good veg food.

Thanks so much for your time! Keep up the amazing posts..”

For once I was stumped by a query on food. This came to me through Facebook. There’s obviously a reason why the gentleman reads Finely Chopped ‘randomly’. The only greens here are on the blog page design. Still he did say nice things and there is no motivator like flattery so I will try to give this a shot.

I am not sure if I can reach ’10’ picks. I have heard of the Soams and Swati Snacks of the world of course. Vegetarians are not a silent breed after all. I only like to write about places I have been to and can vouch for. Still I will give it a try. Most of these would not be pure vegetarian places though

  1. Oh Calcutta, Tardeo – luchi, chholar daal, alur dom
  2. Calcutta Club, Oshiwara – ditto plus alu bhaja, mochar ghonto
  3. Swagat, Fort – Mysore Sada dosa, ulundu dosa
  4. Out of the Blue, Bandra – Penne pesto, Mezze platter
  5. Yellow Tree, Bandra – Spaghetti aglio olio, hummus and pita bread
  6. Punjab Sweets, Bandra Mezzanine floor, Kulche chhole
  7. Sardar, Lalbagh, Missal Pao, garlic dosa. aamraas
  8. Maroosh: Hummus and pita bread
  9. Not been there in a long time- Crystal for basic North Indian home cooked food,  ITC Grand Maratha – black daal, Golden Star Thaali – Gujarati thaali

 I give up. Nothing more comes to mind right now. So let’s call a truce. If there are any vegetarians out there then could you please write in with your top ten picks at Mumbai?


Filed under Dear Uncle Knife, Mumbai local

>’ The Mumbai Food Oscars’

>I wasn’t going to write today. I was really tired. Eyes burning tired. Then went and got the mixer fixed at Pali Market after work. Went to the gym. I use minimum weights but still hate leg routine days. Made my doi posto ilish. Had to look up my own recipe. But was really happy with the results. Took less than ten minutes of work to put together but was worth it.

Opened my mail box after dinner to see this mail from ‘The Simplist‘ , a Parsi from NYC, who is coming to India with his fiance. Now the thing about me is that I am pathologically programmed to answer questions on food the moment someone asks me some. So I did. Thought I’ll share these with anyone else interested. So here goes. Mumbai Food Oscars, was The Simplist’s phrase by the way.

Me and my fiancรฉe are coming over to Mumbai for 2 weeks and since it is her first time here I wanted to shortlist some places worth going. 

Here’s a quick survey you can take if you find a moment in your schedule, must mention the name of the place and I’ll do the rest of the research: 

Best Irani Cafe in Mumbai?

Britannia – or no?
Me: Yazdani Bakery

Best Dhansak in Mumbai not made at someone’s house? 

There was this Bombay Club your uncle-in-law would take you but I assume that is off-limits. So, Mocambo? or something else?

Me: Ideal Corner, Fort. Only Wednesday & Friday though

Best Parsi food available in a restaurant?

Sucker for patrani macchi, a good kolmi no patio, Dhansak, Pulao, Sali Boti, Chicken Farcha, Lagan nu Custard etc.

Me: Ideal Corner, again but their menu differs by the day. Mocambo has dhansak, cutlets, sali boti & pulao daal everyday except Sunday and are almost as good and air conditioned too. Britannia would be a distant third but for Mr Boman Kohinoor who is a darling

Best Biryani in Mumbai? 

Chicken or Mutton is fine… I like it dry with some masala, kind of like you. Not sure if anybody puts Aloo in Mumbai but that would be great.

Me: Best Biriyani (for folks who like it dry) – Kakori House – they have an outlet at Mahim, core shop at Bandra and one at Inorbit mall. No aloo though. Biriyani at Olympia was pretty good and has a bit more masala

Best Goan food in Mumbai?

Sucker for Goa Pork Sausages, Sorpotel and a decent Vindaloo. 
Me: I must choose Snow Flake at the Bastani lane beside Metro over Martins here

Best Keralite food in Mumbai? 

Rahmaniya or Fountain Plaza… I eat beef etc.

Me: Not an expert here. I would go for Rahmaniya by a whisker over Fountain Plaza. I have heard of a place called Sunny at Chembur from people whose tastes I trust

Best Malwani seafood in Mumbai? 

Gajalee? or something else? Mahesh Lunch Home? 

Me: Mahesh is Mangalorean I think. I haven’t gone there in ages but unless the standards have gone down I would still root for Saayba at Bandra for Malwani. I think Gajalee is over rated I would choose Apoorva over Mahesh for Mangalorean.

Best Cupcakes in Mumbai? 

Looking for some great cakes with some flair.

Me: I am not too much a cupcake fan. I like the ones at Candies, Bandra

Best Old-school Bakery in Mumbai?

American Express Bakery or something else? Looking for classic chicken puffs etc. I guess Merwan’s is great too.

Merwan’s Andheri has the best chicken patties

Best Chinese Food – High End?

Mainland China? Or something else? Golden Dragon?

Me: I am partial to Mainland China. Haven’t been to Golden Dragon

Best Chinese Food – Keeping it Simple?

Five Spice I know, others?

Me: Kamling, Churchgate. Wok Hei, Lower Parel 

Best Bengali Food? 

Oh Calcutta is on my list – how much advance book does one have to do?

Me: Oh Calcutta, Tardeo, just mention my name. Joking, you don’t need to book in advance. They are active on their Facebook page and you can write in over there

I would also recommend Calcutta Club, outside Oshiwara Police Station for a budget Bengali home food experience and Hangla for mutton roll

Best Experience Restaurant?

Just trying to figure out a nice place for a 1 on 1 date with Kelly. Indian food or Western is fine… unless absolutely ridiculous (>$500), price is not a variable.

Me: Slightly old school, but Thai Pavillion President. I don’t know how posh you are looking at but we quite like Yellow Tree, Bandra. Mid range Italian. Not a vast menu. But the ground floor is very relaxed and cosy

Best Vada Pao? 

I can always go to the one opposite Churchgate or whatever but if you had a favorite let me know.
Me: Not my thing but quite liked the one at Bandstand, Bandra near Seaside Cafe Recently

Best Kebab Assortment to pack in bulk and take home for drinks? 

Peshawari? Noorani? 

Me: Not the most cost effective for a drinking binge but go to Kakori Roll Centre and pick up the galawit and kakori. I swear by it

So folks jump in with your answers too


Filed under Dear Uncle Knife, Mumbai highs, Oriental, Parsi food - the better half

>What’s your Coffee Shop story?


Someone who is planning to open a coffee shop at Bandra hesitantly wrote in to me a few days back. She wanted to know about what I like in, and look for in, coffee shops. This set me thinking. We spend a lot of time at Coffee Shops actually. As do our friends. I have put down here what I wrote to her. Would love to know what do you look for in coffee shops, favourite places, stories, from Mumbai and across the world. So do write in. After all a coffee shop is often all about conversations.
“Saw your E yesterday. Didn’t want to shoot off a few lines in a hurry. Of course you can write in :0 That’s why I put up the i d. Love the chats that followed after I put it up. 

I am excited to hear about your plans to open a coffee shop at Bandra. My wife and I, and our friends, are ‘coffee house people’. Well do factor in the fact that we are in our mid 30s and probably have less time and things to do than we did a decade back. My feedback would reflect our demographic. 

So what do we like in coffee shops?

I guess a bit of this is defined by the image of Central Perk in FRIENDS. Just as Pop Tates in Archies defined the ‘good life’ for a number of us while growing up in pre-liberalisation India.

As you mentioned, Bandra has quite a few favourites. Gloria Jean’s as you said. The jury is divided on Theobroma, the other place that you mentioned. Then there is Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf. And you did not mention Candies!!! ๐Ÿ™‚ Candies can be quite maddening in the evening and afternoons but is beautiful in the mornings. It’s a bit like a marriage. you need to work on it ๐Ÿ™‚

So coming back to what works for us in cafes? Sink in sofas. Quirky furniture. Odds and ends unlike the military precision of Baristas and the CCDs. Muted colours. Though the Goan Poruguese blue of Candies is quite cheerful too. Good coffee. Hot. Not too expensive. Rs 50 – 100 is a ball park range. Light music, if at all. Not M J blaring at you. Bandra’ites will know what I am talking about.
The place should be neat and clean. There is nothing more bugging than stained sofas, plates with unfinished food on empty tables, food on the floor. A nice Starbucks like aroma of coffee. Air conditioning that works. A clean loo. Gloria loses out on this as they do not have a loo. Wi fi. Magazines, newspapers… off beat stuff beyond Mid Day and Femina.  Some individual seats, like the bar stools in Candies, for crowded moments. A sit out for smokers I guess.

The quality of staff is very important. For some reason, a number of us in urban India, especially in coffee shops and restaurants, speak to the staff in English. So you need at least one person who can speak properly to guests. AND knows the menu. There is nothing more irritating than coming across a waiter who can’t answer your questions about the menu. Most coffee shop folks tend to be regulars and it makes a world of difference when the waiters begin to recognise you, welcome you with a genuine smile and know your preferences. They should not make you feel rushed. Which, honestly, doesn’t happen in any of the coffee shops we go to.

When it comes to food, quality is more important than range. Fresh stuff versus stale packed sandwiches. Ideal would be if you have a fresh counter the way CBTL, Bagel Shop or Candies (Hot breakfast) have. Sandwiches, omelettes, some small bites. Candies is the only one which has decent puffs, quiches, chops and other salty munches. CBTL scores on their fresh sandwiches, even though more expensive. You need some lettuce stuff and herbal teas for the salad crowd. And some tempting desserts for those who like to believe in La Dolce Vita. I don’t know about others but I like the bite of something sweet with my coffee. Candies won my heart with the tiny petite fours, cup cakes and tarts that they give complimentary with their coffee. Good cookies. The only folks to have good cookeis are Cookie Man. And they aren’t a coffee shop. Most other places falter on cookies. How can you have coffee without cookies!!!?? Don’t get me started on this.

In other words a mix of Candies for food and chirpiness, Gloria’s for coffee and cosiness and Coffee Bean for all four, though at a slightly higher price.

So all the best and look forward to your cafe. We are running out of tables at Coffee Shops in  Bandra”


Filed under Bandra Bites, coffee shops, Dear Uncle Knife