Trends, however faddish or frivolous, do not arise out of thin air. Exposure through travel and social media are surely important factors here, but the growing buzz around the celeb-favourite Mediterranean diet, which was named the overall best diet for 2020 by US News & World Report for the third year in a row, is perhaps a more veritable governing force behind the burst of Mediterranean restaurants in India, specifically in Mumbai.
Echoing this, blogger and Masterchef India 4 finalist, Karishma Sakhrani tells us, “As a clean-eater and one who prefers to live her life by rhythm over discipline, I adopted the Mediterranean diet by default many years ago. I love eating big salads loaded with crunchy greens and veggies doused in olive oil with a large handful of nuts. I feel best when I eat this way.”
Mediterranean diet, a plant-based diet that is one of the easiest to follow, is not necessarily low-calorie, but is very nutrient-dense and undoubtedly delicious. “The emphasis on eating more fresh, whole foods resonates with me,” she shares, adding that the only problem she faces as a vegetarian is that it becomes difficult for her to find “an adequate source of natural protein in the cuisine”.
Suman Agarwal, a well-reputed nutritionist and the founder of Selfcare – Health Design by Suman Agarwal, reiterates the benefits of Mediterranean fare. “I think, the fact that Mediterranean food is a mix of Asian and Western influences makes it appealing. It is healthy as it makes use of olive oil, has very few fried items and their breads are baked. But if you’re vegetarian, it has few options for protein-based food.” Agarwal, however, cautions that “no cuisine in itself is healthy”. “It depends on what you choose to eat and the dishes you opt for,” she adds.
If you are sucker for muhammarah, hummus, pickled veggies, fattoush salad, baba ganoush, beetroot salad, shish taouk and tabbouleh, Agarwal suggests you try these dishes at any of the following restaurants for a delicious yet guilt-free dinner.
Rue Du Liban
Sitting like a royal princess in a quaint lane of Mumbai’s art district – Kala Ghoda, Rue Du Liban is an elegantly done up restaurant serving exquisite fair from the Levant, a term used for the cluster of Mediterranean nation-states in Central Asia. Although costly, the dishes here offer a peek into authentic Mediterranean fare, like the creamiest hummus and pillow-y pita breads along with other traditional treats.
Where: 43, Sasoon Building, VB Gandhi Marg, Kala Ghoda, Fort.
Around since 2018, Bayroute is a chain of Mediterranean restaurants based out of Mumbai with a total of five outlets in the city. The brand has been lauded for it’s authentic take on Mediterranean food and has also blossomed into a popular celeb den. You can tuck into delicious treats like the lamb pirzola, Yemen mandi, the refreshingly light msabbaha and pair it with Mediterranean-inspired tipples.
Where: Cuffe Parade, Powai, BKC, Juhu and Lower Parel.
Located at one of Mumbai’s busiest localities – Bandra, Arbab is a year-old diner serving Mediterranean, Turkish and Lebanese fare. The cutesy restaurant has a café vibe and an al fresco seating area, that makes it perfect for a dinner date. The menu offers interesting dishes such as arayes—minced meat stuffed into bread and served with yogurt sauce, toshka, a flat bread stuffed with kebabs and mashawi mushakkal, which a mixed platter of Mediterranean grills.
Where: Shop 4, Plot 117, Muzzafar Manor, Linking Road, Bandra West.
Located in Mahalaxmi, Za'atar is a casual dining space serving a bunch of Mediterranean treats like meaty versions of hummus, exotic and filling mezze platters and a “build your own” segment on the menu as well, where you can go DIY with your meal! Plus, there are keto bowls for health freaks.
Where: Block 40, Laxmi Woolen Mills Compound, Dr. E Moses Road, Mahalaxmi.
The Mediterranean food frenzy has spread its tentacles to far off Thane as well! Visit Greek Gyros, a no-nonsense and affordable café serving Lebanese, Greek and Mediterranean food, like wraps, healthy bowls and juices, too.
Where: 23, Dosti Imperia, Chitalsar, Manpada, Thane West.
Ostaad is restaurateur Neeti Goel’s first foray into Mediterranean food. Goel is also the woman behind well-known diners like Keiba, and recently Madras Diaries. This Lower-Parel-based fine-dine has been praised for its kebabs and baklava. Drop in for a genuine Mediterranean treat!
Where: Unit 2, Ground Floor, Trade Tower B, Kamala City, Lower Parel.
Souk - The Taj Mahal Palace
An offering from the Taj stable, Souk has been touted as the best hub for Mediterranean food in Mumbai. The fancy fine-dine that offers a range of eats along with gourmet teas, wines and cocktails and a panoramic view of the Gateway of India. If you have the money to spend and are looking for an extravagant night out, this is where you should be headed.
Where: The Taj Mahal Palace & Tower, Apollo Bunder, Colaba.
Images: Rue Du Liban, Bayroute, Arbab, Za'atar, Greek Gyros, Ostaad, The Taj Mahal Palace Mumbai and Shutterstock.com