Food file: Mumbai

Ute Junker discovers a culinary scene as colourful as a Bollywood movie.

Favourite flavours

From curries to chicken tikka, Mumbai will dish up whatever you fancy. The locals are known for their love of good food, with restaurants serving the best from India and beyond.

Need to know

If you see "Bombay duck" listed on a menu, don't be fooled - it's really a type of fish.

The local drop

Take the heat out of those curries with lassi, a yoghurt drink available in both sweet and savoury varieties.

Top tables

Once upon a time, lounging on a houseboat on Kashmir's beautiful Dal Lake ranked as one of the ultimate Indian getaways. Political unrest has made Kashmir a no-go zone but Kongpoush restaurant (Best Colony Road, off Link Road, Goregaon West, +91 982 119 2910) does its best to re-create both Kashmir's atmosphere and its cuisine. Tables shaped like the small shikara boats that flit across the lake, cane lamps and flowing curtains set the mood for meals that include well-known dishes such as rogan josh, as well as lesser-known delights such as lotus stems.

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The wondrously named Jiggs Kalra is one of India's best-known celebrity chefs, with newspaper columns, TV shows and cookbooks. He's the driving force behind the upmarket Punjabi Grill (third floor, Palladium Mall, High Street Phoenix, Lower Parel; +91 224 347 3980), where the tandoor oven works overtime churning out calamari, scallops, duck and lobster.

Homewares stores are not usually found in a foodie's top five but Mumbai's first wine bar, The Tasting Room (first floor, Good Earth Building, Raghuvanshi Mills, Senapati Bapat Marg, Lower Parel, +91 226 522 0440), has never played by the rules. Housed inside a chic homewares store, you'll find a seriously good chef whipping up delicious treats, including port-poached beets and soya and maple-marinated salmon.

Budget bite

Mumbai has a buzzing street-food scene. One of the city's best eat-on-your-feet meals is at Mysore Masala Dosa, a small stall outside the main gate of Sophia College on Bhulabhai Desai Road. Locals line up for its unique take on dosa (stuffed pancakes), with the traditional spicy potato filling jazzed up with onion, tomatoes and capsicum.

Special night

You could say Olive Bar & Kitchen, Bandra (Pali Hill Tourist Hotel, 14 Union Park, Khar West, +91 222 605 8228, olivebarandkitchen.com) is India's most upmarket pizza joint - but that would be seriously underselling this Bollywood favourite. Stars and their entourages love the laid-back flair of this Mediterranean-style eatery with its whitewashed walls, candlelit alcoves and wicker chairs padded with colourful cushions.

Locals love

Paani puri - puffed up balls of bread filled with chickpeas and potatoes, dipped into chilli-spiced tamarind water for a delicious treat - are everywhere in Mumbai.

At Punjab Sweet House (Dheeraj Arcade, Pali Naka, Bandra West, +91 222 640 2221), not only are they delicious but they're also made with mineral water, so you don't have to worry about Bombay belly.

Don't leave without trying

Mumbai's contrasts collide at Firangi Dhaba (9 Remi Bizcourt, Veera Desai Road, Andheri West, +91 222 674 3232), one of the city's quirkiest restaurants. Bollywood inspiration (love those vintage movie posters) meets roadside dining, with an outdoor area where a motorised rickshaw doubles as unique seating.

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