Sunday, February 07, 2010
When it comes to choosing a restaurant to bring my dining group to for a meal, there are a lot of restaurants listed in my to go list. At times, it may take several months, even a year before I cross a restaurant off that list; however, as soon as I finished reading an LA Times Review about Mumbai Ki Galliyon Se, I knew I had to go there. Who could resist a restaurant that specializes in Mumbai Street Food? Within minutes, an outing appeared on my group's dining calendar and it took only minutes for the event to fill up. Apparently, I wasn't the only one interested in Mumbai street food.
Before, I talk about our meal, I want to briefly talk about Owner, Sailesh Shah. A few days before this outing, I got an email from him offering to put tables and chairs together for our party as well as mentioning that if there's anything we needed from him, all we had to do was ask. When I did end up calling him with a couple of requests, he was more than happy to accommodate me and when we arrived, he was very welcoming. Another to mention is that when he talked about his food, there was such passion in his voice, that it was catching.
In fact, his whole family is passionate about food. Both Sailesh and his wife, Shruti, developed the recipes and do the majority of the cooking at the restaurant. Interestingly, there's one particular dish that only Sailesh will prepare because he has such exacting standards about how he wants it to turn out. For our lunch there, two of the 12 dishes we ordered were even prepared by his teenage daughter and 10 year old son. I already see a restaurant family dynasty in the making. You can read more about Sailesh and Shruti in the India Journal.
So let's get into the food now. Currently, the all-vegetarian menu at Mumbai Ki Galliyon Se consists of nearly 100 items and encompasses everything from Punjabi classics to South Indian standbys to Indochinese fusion cuisine, but for the purposes of our visit and with two exceptions, we centered our meal around the Mumbai Street Food mentioned in that LA Times article. The beginning of our 12 course meal started with the Dahi Batata Puri which are wheat puffs filled with potatoes, sprouted mung beans and black chana. They were topped with green and red sauces, fried noodles, cilantro and sweet yogurt. A puri is meant to be eaten in one bite so as to capture all the flavors, and the crunch of the crispy shell all at one time. The Dahi Batata Puri was definitely a wonderful bite. I enjoyed the textures and both the sweet and the little bit of heat that came from the ingredients.
Next to arrive was the Sev Puri which was a mixed flour cracker with potatoes, onions, splash of lemon, fried noodles and cilantro. I really enjoyed the crunch that came from both the cracker and the fried noodles and the lemon added a nice hint of tartness that was refreshing.
Before our next dish arrived, we all received our order of the Priyush. The Priyush is a housemade lassi drink with saffron, cardamon, almonds and pistachio. It's a drink that's been a part of the Indian culture for 100 to 200 years and is made from scratch at the restaurant. In fact, it actually takes 3 days to make. This is a must have drink. Actually, as soon as Sailesh told us about the ingredients, I was already sold. I really enjoyed the use of the cardamon and two types of nuts. It's creamy and just thick enough to enjoy without a straw.
Following the Priyush came the Sabuduna Vida with an outer layer made of tapioca and crushed peanuts and a filling of potatoes and green chilis. This particular item had an interesting texture that I didn't necessarily dislike, but wasn't in love with either. I'm not even sure how to describe it, but it was a little dry, chewy and stretchy but also had a little crunch from the peanuts. I actually enjoyed the filling more the than outer part, especially after adding a little spoonful of cilantro sauce which added some lovely peppery notes.
If you're only going to order one thing there, you have to get the Dabeli, a potato slider with Dabeli masala spices, pomegranate seeds, peanuts, green grapes and a tamarind and garlic sauce. While I wasn't so into the texture of the Sabuduna, I was all about the textures and the flavor combinations of the Dabeli. You get tart, sweet, sour, nutty and a little pungency fom the garlic sauce. Then there's the juicy crunch of the grapes and the pomegranate seeds and the nutty crunch of the peanuts. This was was one of my favorite items of our meal.
Soon, the Kachori arrived, which is deep fried wheat batter stuffed with green peas, coconut and spices. Green peas and coconut aren't ingredients I'd think to mix together as a filling and in all honesty, the Kachori wasn't a favorite. On its own, it tasted a little dry. It only improved with the addition of the cilantro sauce and in fact, I only liked it with the cilantro sauce.
Following the Kachori was the Samosa Chat, which was a deep fried samosa stuffed with potatoes, green peas, lentils and onions in a red and green sauce topped with cilantro. I've definitely had my share of samosas, but this was the first time that I've had it doused with different sauces. I actually didn't miss having a crispy samosa to bite into because those sauces really added more nuances of flavor than a samosa could ever have on its own.
Moving right along, it was time for the Dal Vada which were made up of roasted, crushed lentil batter with onions, coriander and tamarind sauce. The Dal Vada had a texture similar to corn bread and sometimes like corn bread, was a little too dry on its own. Dipping it in the tamarind sauce added both moisture and nice hit of sourness.
The next dishes actually came from the Indochine section of the menu and were recommended by Sailesh so that we could sample the Indian-Chinese fusion food that they represented. First, there was the Chinese Fried Rice that was cooked using Indian spices. It was actually quite addicting and I could have easily eaten a big bowl of it just by itself. This dish should also be noted for the fact that it was prepared by Sailesh's young son.
Sailesh's teenaged daughter cooked the Mixed Veg Manudura which were vegetarian meat balls made with cabbage, green bell peppers, carrots and daikon in a Chinese brown sauce. A few of us found it a tad salty when eaten on its own while the rest of the group didn't; however, when eaten with the rice, it was just right.
I mentioned earlier that there was one particular dish that only Sailesh would prepare from the menu and it's the Pav Bhaji, a tomato based sauce made with mixed vegetables, garam masala, topped with cilantro and served with garlic bread. Along with the Dabeli, the Pav Bhaji is a must order. It's eaten simply with bread dipped into it, but I could easily see myself pouring this on pasta. I can't even begin to describe what it tastes like, but there's a complexity to the flavors that is clearly evident with every bite. All I know is that you can not leave Mumbai Ki Galliyon Se without having tried it.
Two more dishes to go and one of them is Puneri Missal. Ingredients included sprouted mung beans, black chana and cilantro with a sauce made from red onions, tomatoes and garlic Sauce with deep fried toppings. This would be the perfect dish for a cold night. It reminded me of a lentil or bean stew but very much prepared using Indian spices.
Last, but not least was the Masala Bhath which was a rice dish with garam masala spices, cauliflower and bell pepper. Sailesh had mentioned that the Masala Bhath was pretty spicy and initially, I didn't think so. However, as you ate into it, there was a little bit of a slow burn at the back of your throat. It wasn't incendiary hot, but the heat made its presence known.
The perfect drink to have at the end of the meal, according to Sailesh, was the Kashimiri Soda, a housemade drink made with club soda, cumin, black pepper, lemon and salt. Apparently, its sole purpose is to help with the digestion of one's food, especially if you've just eaten a meal that was heavily spiced. I decided to try it just because I was curious as to how it would taste and I loved it. It was actually a great palate cleanser and although I only took small bites of everything we ordered, 12 dishes is still a lot and I found that the drink actually had a settling effect on my system.
Overall, our meal at Mumbai Ki Galliyon Se was fantastic and made even better because of how welcoming Sailesh was to our group as well the passion his whole family put into the preparation/cooking of our food. Regardless of where you are coming from, Mumbai Ki Galliyon Se in the city of Artesia is definitely worth the drive and your taste buds will love you for it, too.
Mumbai Ki Galliyon Se
17705 Pioneer Blvd
Artesia, CA 90701