Craving a wholesome South Indian dining experience? Then The Banana Leaf at Mulund is waiting for you, with a bunch of delicacies, all served on a banana leaf. The only condition is that you come hungry, so you can do justice to the fare. Which is what we did one Saturday afternoon. Call ahead and make your reservation, first. We walked into the welcome sight and fragrance of flowers on betel leaves and in traditional water-filled urulis at the entrance. The walls were painted a pleasing shade of green — the green of banana shrubs, with tree-trunk brown tiles and colourful Kathakali face masks looking down at us. Settling into our generous corner seats, one look at the menu under the wickerwork lampshade and we knew we were spoilt for choice.
We started with some savoury paniyarams – lightly fried, seasoned rice and lentil dumplings, with a side of coriander-mint-ginger-spring onion chutney. In addition, there were two other chutneys – the regular coconut one and another with coconut, garlic and Kashmiri chillies and a thoughtfully prepared side of sambar – a far cry from the stock offering of many a South Indian eatery. The above side dishes also went well with the Chettinad Spice Masala Dosa – good enough to be eaten by itself. Naturally, we could not ignore the healthier cousin of the dosa, so we tried the Mulagai idli. Swathed in a green sauce, it was a welcome new taste. Those devoted to idli-with-podi need not fear, that too is here. Our smart and informed server also had us try the delectable Malabar curry – a golden yellow sauce with paneer and vegetables – with appam, and the Dakshin Biryani, served with raita and pappadom. A plethora of desserts to choose from. We picked Yelneer Payasam, a delicate concoction, made with tender coconut water and coconut milk, garnished with dried fruit. A wonderful lunch it was, rounded off royally with some excellent filter coffee. All in all, if you plan to take your family or friends out for lunch, dinner or simply for a treat, The Banana Leaf is a great option.
Reviewed by Geeta Bhagat
Where to find it: Banana Leaf restaurant, Devidayal Rd, Near Fire Station, P&T Staff Colony, Mulund West, Mumbai, Maharashtra 400080