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It’s time for Mumbai to go ‘Bawri’ over regional Indian cuisine

After Goa, chef Amninder Sandhu brings Bawri to Mumbai with a nostalgic take on quintessential local dishes.

Six months ago we came across multiple reels of a beautiful restaurant in Goa, Bawri. Instantly, it made it to our wish list. The space showcased beautiful interiors with private cabanas and a koi pond, but we were immediately drawn to the restaurant’s food offerings. Watching chef Amninder Sandhu take hot kulchas out of the tandoor on reels, had has drooling. But what was more surprising was that traditional food in Goa quickly gained virality. So naturally, when the news of Bawri opening an outlet in Mumbai broke out, we were ecstatic.

If you have got your eye on the food circles in India, you probably know about chef Sandhu’s mastery. For the uninitiated, chef Sandhu is popular for her love for open-fire cooking and ran one of India’s first gas-free kitchens. After working at the Taj Lands End, and the now shuttered Arth in Mumbai; she took her North Indian cooking forward by opening Nora in Pune (now shuttered). Her biggest openings have been Bawri, which launched in Goa last year and later Palaash in Tipai. Chef Sandhu’s cooking showcases her family recipes that have been passed down to her, and local recipes and dishes from across the length and breadth of the country.

Chef Sandhu and co-founder Sahil Sambhi of Bawri have retained the charm of the Goa outlet at the Mumbai outpost as well. Designed by Muninder and Vishakha Chowdhary, this 130-seater restaurant involved extensive cultural research. The two worked alongside chef Sandhu to understand her philosophy, preferences and what the food means to her. The 4,500 sq ft. space in Bandra Kurla Complex (BKC) is divided into five different complementing sections—the central bar with seating, two-person intimate seating, community tables, built-ins and their signature floor-level private cabanas with arched cane canopies. The space also features an open-fire kitchen where the guests can watch their food cooking in the tandoors. During our visit, we chanced upon chef Sandhu working her magic at one of the tandoors. It was thrilling!


Bawri bar interior and Sahil Sambhi and Chef Amninder Sandhu

Sahil Sambhi with chef Amninder Sandhu. Photo: Bawri

The chef-partner was certain that the restaurant would consist of “two key ingredients—traditions and rituals that you rarely see anymore, and warmth that you would feel when you went to your grandmother’s or relatives’ place after a long time. Bawri BKC will make you feel this and much more,” she says. “You will feel nostalgic.”

“I’ve always wanted a place that celebrates Indian food and regional Indian recipes,” says Sambhi. The duo bonded over their “love for Indian food but without any frills—just honest and casual Indian food true to our roots, and that’s how Bawri was born,” he adds. The reason for launching in BKC was because “there was a serious gap in the market for a casual Indian food restaurant in this bustling financial centre, and I knew that Bawri BKC would bridge that beautifully.”


Bawri interior

Photo: Bawri

The menu has generational heirloom recipes passed down to chef Sandhu by her family and friends, along with food from her Punjabi heritage, growing up in North East India, her time in Goa, and her travels to rural India.


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The moment you enter, you’re greeted by rose petals. Upon seating, we were offered to wash our hands with a copper-hammered surai. The restaurant’s idea is to encourage people to eat with their hands, as you do in most Indian households. What we noticed upon entering was the sprawling bar at the center with handwoven rugs from Jaipur as tapestry, the indoor plants, high ceiling, private floor cabanas, and a live tandoor kitchen on the opposite end of the restaurant. It may not be as spacious as the Goa outlet, but for Mumbai standards, a 4,500 sq ft space is quite roomy. The menu at their Mumbai outpost is the same as Goa but, “we have added a few things native to the city,” shares chef Sandhu when she stopped by our table. “We have the bhajji and papad on our menu and for dessert we decided to add the Malai Kulfi Sandwich. It is nostalgic because I grew up eating kulfi from Parsi Dairy Farm,” she shares. 


The Great

Food at Bawri

(From left to right) Malai Kulfi Sandwhich and Hara Mattar Kulcha. Photos: Bawri

Chef Sandhu is a master at using the tandoor, so we we had high expectations from the Hara Mattar Kulcha (₹485), and it didn’t disappoint us. The kulcha was perfectly baked in the earthen clay tandoor, stuffed with green peas and on top of it, there were more peas, green chutney and pickled onions. Paired with this was a makhni jus that was so good that we would buy it by the jar just to add paneer and veggies at home and make it into a sabji. Despite being a small plate, we got one stuffed kulcha, enough for two people. The Malai Kulfi Sandwich (₹350), a signature dish on the Mumbai menu was a simple dessert. A disk of malai kulfi with a thin, crisp biscuit – the right amount of sweet and crisp. We recommend ordering one per person because sharing and cutting it into two halves was difficult. The Charred Paneer (₹575) small plate will be a must-order the next time we visit the place. A circular disk of soft, melt-in-your-mouth paneer that’s charred to perfection, is served with a fennel and dry mango chutney with microgreens on top. This was the right kind of chutney to go with inherently bland paneer.


The Good

Food at Bawri

(From left to right) Litti Chokha and Gucchi stuffed mushroom. Photos: Bawri

The Gucchi (Kashmiri morel) stuffed mushroom on a bed of nachani and walnut soil (₹1250) was a small plate. Served on a stump of wood, it looked like a mushroom found in the wilderness. The Gucchi mushroom is an acquired taste because of its texture but after eating more than two pieces, we felt it was too overwhelming for us. However, we loved the nachani walnut soil. We could eat spoonfuls of it. The Litti, smoked baingan, aloo chokha and tamatar chutney (₹575) was one of the main dishes. For someone who hasn’t had litti chokha, it was enjoyable and tasted good. However, our partner-in-dine who has had it before described it as a modernised version of the Bihari dish.


The Miss

Food at Bawri

(From left to right) Wild Mango Curry with Noolputtu and fresh paan made outside the restaurant. Photos: Bawri

From everything we had, no dish was something you could miss. However, we personally did not like the Wild Mango Curry with Noolputtu (₹665). The dish was great with a flavourful and well-tempered curry. But, the sour taste is something that doesn’t sit well on our palate, and this one was quite sour.


The menu has ample offerings for vegetarian as well as non-vegetarian food. We wish we could have tried more of their mains because we hear the Dal Makhani and the wide variety of Indian breads are to die for. Well, there is always a next time!

At Bawri, you end the meal with a paanwala making a paan as per your requirement right outside the restaurant. Just like you would at most small Indian restaurants that we have all grown up eating at.

 A meal for two would cost approx. ₹3000 including alcohol.