“Hey, farmer farmer put away your DDT, I don’t care about spots on my apples. Leave me the birds and the bees please,” sang Joni Mitchell way back in 1970. All these years later, in a world full of genetically-modified, pesticide-laden food, there has, thankfully, been a conscious shift back to organic farming and food. India was a little slow on the uptake, but Mumbai now has a ton of places where you can “eat clean”.
So whether you’re a gluten averse, lactose intolerant, super food loving vegan or just someone who finds resonance in Mitchell’s lyrics, this guide to eating healthy in the city is tailor-made for you.
Start your day right with a bowl of oat porridge at Kala Ghoda Cafe. This giant bowl filled with hot porridge, almonds, and fruit is the food version of a cozy winter morning lying snuggled up under the blankets with warmth and goodness. It’s filling enough to help you charge through your hectic workday. Carpe diem!
Kala Ghoda Cafe, Bharthania Building, 10 Ropewalk Lane, Kala Ghoda, Fort, Mumbai 400 001. Phone: 022 22650195
If you’re on the other side of the sealink and in the mood for something desi, head to The Village Shop. This quaint café in Chimbai Village serves delicious health food that won’t burn a hole in your pocket. Their Southern Sunrise is a “home-style daal dosa cooked in ghee”. But what really gets it going is the chilly onion chutney that it’s served with. Mop it all up and ask for more for a breakfast that is protein packed and will make even your mother happy!
The Village Shop, 53 Serpis Villa, Chimbai Road, Near St. Andrews Church, Bandra (w), Mumbai 400 050. Phone: 022 3312 6928
With its charming decor, cheery staff, and menu full of health food, The Pantry is your go-to place to spend lunch hour in the old business district. Get the Bhavnagari – chunks of tender chicken flavoured with an Indian chilli pesto sauce, onions, and arugula sandwiched between pillowy soft focaccia that is baked in their open kitchen. Gluten-free: check. Guilt-free: check.
The Pantry, Yeshwant Chambers, Military Square Lane, Kala Ghoda, Fort, Mumbai 400 001. Phone: 022 2267 8901
Power-packed lunch gets a whole new meaning at Kitchen Garden by Suzette: the answer to all of Bandra’s hipster fantasies. Lunch on one of their salads and watch as models and others from the “it” crowd saunter in and out. The Soba – Japanese Soba noodles, shredded carrots, red cabbage, grilled prawns, edamame, spring onions, coriander, and mint leaves, dotted with sesame and seasoned with a spicy miso and ginger dressing – hits the spot on any given day, leaving you stuffed to the gills minus the accompanying sluggish feeling.
If you haven’t been listening so far and are fighting a post-lunch slump, I strongly recommend you ditch the coffee and head to Sequel Bistro and Juice Bar to treat yourself to their raspberry and sour cherry jar that has organic bananas and raspberries, mango pulp, and sour cherries blitzed with cashew milk and topped with Mexican dark chocolate, Peruvian cacao nibs, chia seeds, sunflower seeds, and raspberries. When it arrives, you’ll be torn between admiring it and devouring it instantly. It’s a bit tart on the first sip but wonderfully offset by the chocolate as you go along; the perfect way to perk you up mid-day without disturbing your circadian rhythm.
Sequel Bistro and Juice Bar, Shop No.2, Solace, 33rd Road, Bandra (w), Mumbai 400 050. Phone: 75064 77710. Also at 47, VB Gandhi Marg, Opposite Knesseth Eliyahoo Synagogue, Kala Ghoda, Fort, Mumbai 400 001. Phone: 75065 77710
You can’t go wrong with a name like 212 All Good. Everything here comes with a side of “feel good”. Heck, even their cola is house-made. Though it doesn’t taste as good as Thums-Up, it has enough novelty to help you wash down your order. The goji berry chicken curry served with black rice pilaf and a broccoli and sweet potato sabzi will warm the cockles of your heart with its heartiness. It’s big on spice- so make sure you keep refilling that glass of house made cola.
212 All Good, Ground Floor, Grand West Zone, High Street Phoenix, Lower Parel, Mumbai 400 013. Phone: 86550 12212
While pizza might not sound like the best option when you’re trying to eat healthy, Birdsong Cafe’s version is made on a gluten free base and topped with vegan cheese that tastes just as good as the real deal and will have your inner pizza lover doing the happy dance. Their minced lamb and olive pizza – a thin-crust pizza layered with a tangy sauce, minced lamb covering every inch, and a generous amount of cheese – is enough to make you want to eat it every day for dinner.
Birdsong – The Organic Cafe, Shop 1-5, Waroda Road, Near Jude Bakery, Hill Road, Bandra (w), Mumbai 400 050. Phone: 022 2642 3939
If you’re wondering how I got through a full story on healthy eating without even so much as mentioning an avocado, fret not, there are special shout-outs to the the avocado toasts at The Pantry and Plenty. The former comes on crusty bread, decorated with pomegranate pearls, and tastes just as good as it looks; the latter is a lime-rubbed version that deserves paeans dedicated to it. No, I do not exaggerate or joke when it comes to food!
Plenty, 3-B Raja Bahadur Mansion, 24-A Mumbai Samachar Marg, Fort, Mumbai 400 001. Phone: 022 2262 2020