In a nutshell:
It was not just the outstanding home cooked food made from fresh ingredients, it was about the stories that we heard, the experience of dining in at a koli house (traditional fishermen community of mumbai). Super loved the chat with everyone in the family including the Young engineer at their family home in Versova mumbai – fish and seafood caught by the men of the family, cooked by the ladies of the family.
Address & other details: authentic cook
Meal for 2: ₹2350
Cuisine type : non vegetarian (sea food)
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I rate all the food items & then give a final overall rating which is a simple average of the individual item ratings. What the ratings stand for: 5 = Excellent, 4 = Very Good, 3 = Good, 2 = Fair, 1 = Disaster
Short description- in case u r in a hurry
It all started with us stumbling upon ‘Authenticook’ while browsing the web. The concept seemed very ambitious but sounded very good. The idea for them was to identify great home chefs and get guests to their homes in batches and serve food in the natural environment.
At around the same time we got to know of another organisation who had done a similar event – Commeat. We attended one such event named ‘Unish Pawd’ by Pritha Sen – a Bengali vegetarian spread with 19 items!!! However commeat’s absence from google search suggests that the business model is not that easy.
Authenticook on the other hand has come a long way – they are 2 years + old and are present in 20 cities (varied levels of presence and frequency).
Koli food notification popped up on my best friend’s phone on a Friday morning and it sounded exciting to her. Screenshot arrived on my WhatsApp – I was jostling for space , ready to de-board a plane, in Delhi T3. Next message said ‘it says only 4 seats left’…. hurry up. Started process of booking the meal (registering, pre paying etc) right then. As I walked on towards the exit – after few failed attempts (bad connectivity), finally managed to book, as I neared the exit of the terminal !!!! (Some people claim to finish reading short stories during that walk from flight to taxi stand at t3!!!!:))
As I sat in the car and scrolled down the app out of curiosity, I saw a few clarifications – no WC, no AC, shoes to b kept out of the house. All that made the evening sound adventurous.
It also gave 2 phone numbers – one of the host and one of someone from authentic cook.
We travelled almost 30 km one way to eat here. We were mentally prepared for anything as long as food was good – left hand fanning away mosquitoes etc while we eat with right hand, stern looking family members, kuccha roads with maybe puddles, pet cats jumping around in the house etc etc. We were also anticipating meeting some rookie who wud b doing a summer project at authentic cook…..
We were asked to meet at 8 pm at a place (google link was sent to us on SMS), to be followed by a 7-8 minute walk).
As we alighted from the car, we were pleasantly surprised to meet not some rookie but the co founder of authentic cook himself. Forget ‘stern looking family members’, we were delighted to meet the ever smiling, super intelligent , great to talk to, family member, an engineer himself , the son of the lady who hosted us.
We had a short wait for the other members – total 12 people. We started walking towards the house. Roads got narrow beyond a point and then started the lanes – not very different from north Kolkata or kashi.
The mansion that our hosts stay was 3 storeyed, beautifully maintained, brightly coloured. We were taken to the first floor. There was a large dining table that could seat 12 people.
As we sat, we got introduced to the family members. The ladies of the family have their fish shops in Versova market and they sell fish everyday there. The men take out boats to the deep seas and catch fish. The family has 8 boats. 1 boat goes out every day and comes back after several days (upto 10-12 days in sea).
We heard many interesting stories and facts about the sea and fishing – per trip diesel cost (of running the boat) is at least a lac. Lot of food is taken in the boat for sustaining those days. Fishing happens at different distances from the land – larger fishes are found farther from the coast, all fish that reaches the shore is not fresh (catch of the day) as it has been piling for few days in the boat and was being packed in ice!!!
We were told that there are so many varieties of prawn that comes to mumbai markets that if you eat one variety every day, it will take more than a year to cover all varieties.
We also got to know that It was Mr. rajan, our host, who started the Versova koli food festival few years bk, that has become so popular these days. He was mentioning how people did not believe it will work, when he first spoke about the idea and how it became a rocking success from year 1.
We heard a bit of history – this part of current mumbai is a place where sailors used to rest while sailing from Gujarat to Cochin. So it was called ‘visava’ meaning rest, which I am sure the phonetically challenged British officials wud hv made ‘Versova’.
Well, that’s stealing away a lot from the future show …. no more. Wud urge u to try this out and u will get to hear the rest of the stories and more ….
The menu for the evening was published by authenticook on the site.
I was remembering my grand mother as we started eating. The ladies of the house fed us with as much warmth and would endlessly keep coming back and ask us to ‘eat one more’ and ‘just one more’ and ‘only one more’ ….
Enjoyed the lovely home cooked food. Just too good.
Detailed description- in case u hv the time to njoy reading:
At the beginning we were served a Chutney made from raw mango and tomato – tangy, grainy (daanedaar), robust and very YUMM. We were told some guests liked it so much that they packed some for home as well!!
The first dish was Karandi bhaji – Small prawn pakodas. Lovely. Unstoppable. The batter was not smooth, every bite was different. Flavours of prawns were robust and so was the taste. Green chillies spiced it up. Rate it 4.25/5
Bombil / Bombay duck fry came next.
For the uninitiated, it has got nothing to do with duck bird – Bombay duck is a fish!!! Well why is it called a duck – actually it was not meant to be called ‘duck’ , it was supposed to be ‘daak’ which means post / postal / post office related. Even more confused? Ok – decades back, this fish used to be dried and sent by post from Bombay to other parts of the country. So it was called Bombay daak. Over years it became ‘duck’.
This was the best Bombay duck fry I have ever had in my life. Needless to say that the fish was as good and as fresh as it could be. The best part was how perfectly it was fried. The outer layer was crisp and inside was soft, layery and profusely juicy!!!! Wow. Rate it 4.95/5
Paplet (that’s how pomfret is pronounced locally) fry was made with local spice marination. Small full pomfrets were served. Loved them. Again super fresh and good fish. Rate it 4/5.
Prawn ambat (curry) with potatoes and tomatoes was very good when I had it with bhakri. When I had some more curry with piping hot rice, it tasted heavenly. I licked off the plate as if nothing was ever served on it. The prawns were fresh and tasty. They were not that soft though. Loved the large pieces of raw mango, potato and quarter size tomatoes. These gave another dimension to the curry. Rate the curry 4.75/5, rate the prawns 3.25/5. Overall rating of the dish averages out to 4/5
Tisrya masala – clams (shellfish) curry was another rockstar of a dish. The gravy was rustic, robust and awesome beyond expectations. Taste and flavour of spices and clam beautifully complimented each other. Rate it 4.95/5. Unmissable – if that means trying clams for the first time in ur life.
Sol kadi was served As an accompaniment – its not particularly a koli dish but a general coastal drink of the region made from kokum fruit and coconut milk. Again very good. Rate it 4.5/5
Khobrya cha khirapat – roasted coconut and mawa came for dessert. Outstanding. Just the right amount of sweetness, balanced by the natural saltiness of mawa. Rate it 4.5/5
Overall rating of food averages out to 4.45/5
Look forward to ‘level 2’ of this series with more unusual items like shark, ribbon fish soup, squid kheema, tuna kheema and more unusual
Fishes way beyond surmai, pomfret and rawas. Hope Authenticook will organise that soon