A couple of weeks ago I stumbled upon a bunch of enthusiastic people who run a food-based start-up that promotes regional Indian cuisine. Authenticook – launched sometime in late 2015 by bankers Ameya Deshpande and Priyanka Deshpande, advertising professional Sai Ghatpande and consultant Aneesh Dhairyawan – focuses on the cuisines of various communities through home dining experiences. The meals are hosted at the homes of people from various communities like the Koli, Pathare Prabhu, Bohri Muslim or Tulu Nadu Mangaloreans, so the food that you get to taste is 100 per cent true to that community or region.
I attended the Koli pop-up hosted by home chef Rajini who stays deep inside the Versoval Koli village. We met the Authenticook crew at the entrance of the village and walked through the tiny by lanes, colourful houses and wedding preparations (yep, there were two happening simultaneously) to our host’s house. The aroma of fried fish and hot bhakris filled our nostrils even before we entered the house which had a kitchen as big as my living room.
After a round of introduction, we began with mori (shark) fry with piquant red chutney. The meal that followed beats any fish thali worth its salt in the city. It had deep-fried corn bhajiyas, bhareli paplet – a large, pan-fried pomfret stuffed with spicy green masala, aambyat la ambat – a summer special tangy and sweet curry of prawns cooked in a curry made with coconut and raw mango, bombil fry – Mumbai’s special fried Bombay duck, rice bhakri, steamed rice, and sol kadi to wash it all down. The dessert was bharleli keli – bananas stuffed with coconut and jaggery mixture and deep fried; needless to say that we found it difficult to move post our meal.
Kolis were the original inhabitants of Mumbai and the fisher folks who’ve now settled in various pockets of the city including Versova, Juhu, Mahim, Sion etc. These people still rule the roost when it comes to sourcing the best fish. During our meal our host told us about the variety of fish available that are much better than the regular pomfrets and surmais but don’t have any takers. Unfortunately, the original Koli food hasn’t made it to the mainstream food culture and what restaurants in the city serve doesn’t even scratch the surface of their culinary abundance.
I would highly recommend Authenticook to those who are genuinely interested in the regional food of the country. You can check-out their upcoming pop-ups on their Facebook page. Also follow them on Twitter and Instagram.