There is surely no other country in the world that has such strong associations with vegetarianism as does India. The rise of vegetarianism goes back to 500 BC when Ancient Hindu scriptures spoke in favour of the sacred importance of vegetarian eating, which have been respected and revered for generations. Today, vegetarian eating is firmly embedded in contemporary Indian culture, with the majority of Indians believing it not just to be a recipe for healthy living but a spiritual ritual, as part of a purification process for both body and soul.
Mumbai is a city that has developed strong vegetarian customs, with many areas in the city being predominantly meat free. When scouring a Mumbai menu, what is striking is the sheer quantity of vegetarian dishes available. Similar to other coastal areas of India, the Mumbai tastes and flavours are heavily associated with coconut, as well as the existence of many peanut and cashew-laden recipes.
The local Mumbai vegetarian restaurants are a great place to fill up on good cheap feed. The most authentic and interesting option is to order the Gujarati Thali; a well known favourite for many an Indian restaurateurs. The Thali is a selection of small individual dishes which are served together as a complete dish which usually consists of four chapattis, various pulses, vegetables, curd, rice and salad. One of the best known restaurants for this famous Mumbai Thali in Mumbai is the Rajdhani, which is situated right opposite the Crawfood Market in the South of the city. The restaurant is a Vegetarian’s heaven, offering authentic Thali which is served hot and quick in fancy silverware. Make sure you turn up starving as the waiters are overly eager to refill any empty spot of your plate with second, third and fourth helpings.
Another advantage of India’s long vegetarian history is the chance to dine in well established, restaurants that have spent years perfecting their own unique menus and dishes. Cream Centre is one of the oldest vegetarian restaurants in Mumbai which was established well over fifty years ago. The restaurant has transcended generations, inventing and experimenting with flavours and ingredients, with its signature dish being the famous Channa Bhatura; a mouth-watering combination of spicy chickpeas and fried bread, served with a side gajar pickle. The traditional dish is still one of the most popular being served on the menu today, but is also accompanied by more contemporary vegetarian innovations of the highest quality, as well as an irresistible pudding menu.