Kala Ghoda Arts Fest: Confessions of an expert food critic

In addition to its art and architecture, Kala Ghoda is synonymous with good food. And the nostalgia for restaurants that have stood here through the decades took centrestage during a book launch and panel discussion on the food journey of the art district.

Flavours of Kala Ghoda, a book of recipes from iconic restaurants in the area, compiled by food critic Nicole Mody, was launched during the HT Kala Ghoda Arts Festival on Sunday, in the company of noted food writer and critic (and editorial advisor to HT) Vir Sanghvi and restaurateur Rahul Akerkar, with a discussion moderated by food writer Antoine Lewis.

Sanghvi reminisced about growing up in Bombay and visiting Samovar, apart from other local favourites like Chetana and Khyber, mentions of which got rousing applause from the audience.

“I also remember a cabaret-style restaurant called La Bella; it was where Fab India stands now,” he added. “What set these institutions apart was their commitment to quality and their passion for food.”

Akerkar looked back fondly to childhood visits with his parents to a restaurant called Horseshoe at Colaba Causeway, run by a Parsi. “I loved this thing they had called the chocolate rocket, which came in a cone,” he said.

Mody, who has been curating the food sessions at Kala Ghoda for four years, said the current crop of restaurateurs are savvy and equally passionate about food. “Look at places like The Pantry, which is working with local farmers, or The Nutcracker, where family recipes are being reinvented,” she said. The session ended with each speaker picking their favourite comfort food, and chaat, that quintessentially Indian experience, emerged as the most popular choice.

“This discussion has helped me discover new places to dine at in the area, as well as the history of some of the older ones,” said Colaba resident Anjoo Chandiramani, 49, who heads an NGO.