Read below for my India Travel Blog Post: Goa and Mumbai
While traveling internationally has been put on hold, I wanted to share this for when we can travel again someday. I’ve been super excited to post the insanely delicious eats I had in India because it is a country where being a vegetarian is actually intimately woven into cultural practices and its philosophy. It was incredibly refreshing coming from a meat-obsessed country like the U.S. If you’re interested in reading about my personal experiences as a half-Indian person going to India for the first time, check it out here!
India: Full of Flavors Even at the Airport
I adore how much spice and flavor is in Indian food, even at the airports. And their food is fresh – it truly is farm-to-table. Things might take longer to get but it is worth the wait because of how delicious it is. Let me tell you about my vegetarian foodie journey in India.
As I was waiting forever in the New Delhi airport, I decided to eat because I was finally in India and why not kill some time? Most airports in the U.S. have terrible options for vegetarians. It is a joke. But the contrast was intensely experienced in the New Delhi airport because I could eat at any counter! Even the American companies like McDonald’s, Subway, etc. had way more vegetarian options that I’ve never seen at a location in the U.S. It was incredible. I obviously did not eat at one of those places because I loathe them.
I went to a small counter instead and ate the Egg Bhaji for $2 and it was incredible! Having been sleep deprived and in transit for 18 hours, I needed something delightful, but this was a breath of fresh air. I felt like I was being transported out of my jet lag daze with every bite of the fluffy egg, fresh vegetables, and bursts of flavor. If the airport food in India was this good, what will the rest of India be like? I could only imagine.
Since I was in Goa for a destination wedding, I mainly ate at the resort for the first part of the trip, which meant that I ate a lot of scrumptious buffet food. I am not usually a big breakfast eater in the U.S. because I am not a morning person but since I was jet-lagged, I was definitely going to partake in the breakfast buffet that felt like a decadent celebration.
They were making fresh Dosa (South Indian crepe), naan, and everything else smelled and looked fresh. Oh and did I mention how 90% of the items at the buffet were vegetarian? I also had the best Achaar (South Asian pickles) at these buffets, which I was excited to indulge in. The sauces were always perfectly flavored and the vegetables always tasted so fresh. Yes, some of the food was buttery but that’s how it is. It just felt magical to have so many options!
After eating my weight in buffets for the first couple of days, I decided to have a “lighter” brunch after a gorgeous cocktail night. I ordered a Paneer Kathi roll and it was far from a lighter meal, but it was the perfect antidote to my hangover after the cocktail party. The masala sauce was rich and robust with fresh peppers and of course paneer. I felt that the Kathi Roll was a perfect envelope for the paneer-veggie goodness.
At the end of our time in Goa, I finally ate outside of a resort. My friend ordered burgers from Burger Factory, and I honestly was dreading it because why get Americanized food in India even if it’s a veg burger? But I had the best vegetarian burger of my life. It was a chickpea-carrot patty with generous beets, pickled cabbage, and a tangy sauce on a sesame bun. Of course India has the best veggie burgers.
That same night, my friend ordered from a Dhaba (a small corner restaurant stand) and I had one of the best meals of my time in India. It was Indo-Chinese food (a match made in heaven), which was a genius idea. We started out with a soft and saucy Gobi-Manchurian – breaded cauliflower simmered in a sweet and tangy sauce. Then proceeded to a paneer made in a Chinese style brown-garlic sauce with Indian spices. The Masala Fried Rice was the stand-out dish because who doesn’t love fried rice made with Indian spices? It was served in this space-age silver-bag, which made it even more appetizing.
Unfortunately, it was time to leave Goa and we of course got to try the Goan airport food. Again, surprisingly delicious with a plethora of vegetarian options! I didn’t know what to do with myself! I had one of my favorite Indian dishes, Rajma (kidney bean in a tomatoey-brown gravy) with Aloo Gobi. The sauce had that perfect blend of spices and it was such a comforting dish.
I was only in Mumbai for 1.5 days, but it made quite the impression on my heart and stomach. My friends are Soho members so we went to Soho House Mumbai – not my first choice, but I was happily surprised with how delicious their food was. For our first night in Mumbai, we had a lovely feast with Dal Makhani, Tandoori Paneer, and Garlic/Cheese Naan.
The Dal was incredible – it ranks highly up there for one of the best ones I have ever had in my life. Again, the flavors, the spices, the sauce…just so perfect. The paneer was actually just okay – not super exciting. However, the Cheese Naan was a bit intense because there was too much cheese in there, but the Garlic Naan was heavenly of course. The cocktails were also fabulous, which are the same ones they have at their other locations.
The next day, yes, we had brunch at Soho! I hate myself, but it was close and convenient, and I blame my travel buddies. I had the Avocado Toast and it was super fresh and way more flavorful than what I’ve had in the U.S. because they put chili oil and chili pepper on the avocado. The sourdough bread was crispy and soaked up the avocado perfectly.
After seeing Dharavi and then the Gateway of India, we were ready to relax after a lot of walking. We decided to try the Taj Mahal Palace hotel given its legendary reputation, and it was my last night in town so I had to leave with a bang. There are multiple restaurants inside of the Taj Mahal, and we wanted to have the best view so we went to Souk – their Lebanese rooftop restaurant. Honestly, this wasn’t the best meal I had in Mumbai, but there were some highlights.
First of all, the views were incredible and worth the okay service at such a fancy restaurant. Their tea collection was super impressive, and I of course had some Darjeeling tea with my meal. We started out with the assortment of dips: ful, baba ghanoush, ezme, and a mini pastry roll stuffed with halloumi. I love ful (stewed fava beans), and this was my favorite dip along with the smoked eggplant baba ghanoush. I wasn’t impressed with the ezme, but it was still decent.
For our entrées, we decided to go more Moroccan. My friend ordered the Prawn Tajin, and I ordered the Vegetarian Bastilla. The Prawn Tajin sauce was tomatoey and spiced very well. The Vegetarian Bastilla came with an herbaceous cream sauce, which I really enjoyed, but the vegetables in the bastilla were a bit underwhelming. They needed to be more flavorful given the light sauce. But the Bastilla pastry itself was perfectly flaky with a hint of sweetness, which balanced well with the savory notes of the dish. I wished we had gone to a Dhaba instead for my last night for something more authentic, but I can say that I ate at the rooftop of the famous Taj Mahal Palace hotel.
I just barely scratched the surface of India, and I cannot wait to come back to eat even more delicious vegetarian food. It was such a treat to have so many options as a vegetarian where it’s not viewed as a “privilege” the way it is in the U.S. In fact, it is the reverse in India where meat is more expensive and harder to get, which makes complete sense. Way more sense than our messed up food system in the states. Well I hope you enjoyed my India travel blog post: Goa and Mumbai.
Hungry for more travels? Check out my other travel blog posts here.