A couple of caveats-—we don’t do New Year’s resolutions here at Homegrown. And we definitely don’t do diets. In fact, our idea of a healthy meal (barring one rather finicky business head, She Who Shall Not Be Named) usually consists of a bag of crisps, laid out on top of a deep dish pizza, embedded with a smorgasbord of deep-fried/meaty jewels, all washed down with a litre of soda. We also often cringe at the words vegan/ raw foodist/ health freak and synonyms for the same. Probably not the best thing to admit just as we embark upon this purist food route but…hashtag peer pressure?
Still, we’re not immune to the infectious optimism that seems to be going around this week and chances are, you’re not either. So whether or not you’ve been freebasing samosas and chaat so long, you’re beginning to smell like Punjab Sweet House, we’re here to tell you it’s not too late. Eating healthy doesn’t have to mean eating unpalatable, inedible items of torture. In fact, these 18 Bombay meals we’ve rounded up for you happen to be both ridiculously nutritious and notoriously tasty. We tried just for you, so now it’s your turn to button up and chow down.
[Fair warning - Despite our best efforts, we decided that tasty, healthy food is sadly, a more expensive option in the city than we thought unless you’re content with an idli at your local Udipi, so the budgets aren’t entirely encompassing of the lower extremes. We also did our best to keep the list balanced between non-vegetarian and vegetarian options though the latter definitely seems to be winning out.]
Scroll on for food salvation:
I. The Hipster Salad @ Bombay Salad Co
Tucked between gluttonous rival joints like Between Breads and Mini Punjab, Karishma Dalal’s brand new health venture (seriously, it’s just a few weeks old) promised to please Bandra’s ever-expanding fitness folk, and please it did. Bringing the experience of having headed both Suzette and Barrio’s kitchens in the past, Dalal’s offerings of fresh, made-from-scratch salads, sandwiches, multi-grain wraps, soups and juices feels something like a medieval health feast. Better still, the menu changes both daily and seasonally, making it entirely deserving of a top spot on this list.
Our pick from the 60 options available at the salad bar though is (surprise, surprise) The Hipster Salad. Light as a feather, it combines all the most trendy, not to mention notoriously hard to get, health ingredients right from kale, quinoa and cranberries, tossing it together with amaranth, carrots, pomegranate and mixed seeds like flax, pumpkin, sunflower, watermelon and chia seeds for textural crunch with a deliciously citrus orange-carrot vinaigrette for dressing just to set it all off. The final frontier of salads as far as we’re concerned and err, you didn’t hear it here but it’s a better hangover cure than the greasy burger down the road you usually opt for instead. Shush, we have a reputation to keep.
Cost: You’re paying for quality ingredients @ Rs 355
Other Options We Love: The Samurai Salad is perfect for those looking for a more filling alternative, and with a penchant for more pungent Asian flavours. It combines lettuce with gluten-free soba noodles, tofu, grilled mushrooms, roasted bell peppers, broccoli and peanuts, all dressed up with a chilli-ginger soy vinaigrette.
The Protein Overdose salad is ‘perfect for meat lovers looking to avoid carbs.’ What’s in it? Kale, roquette, succulent,shredded beef, egg white, onions, sweetcorn and roasted bell peppers.
Wash It Down With: A coconut-milk, Cashew-milk, cacao, date smoothie. It’s kind of a cheat zone because all that creamy goodness will have you thinking it’s delightfully sinful but the truth is it’s dairy-free and lactose-free. Not to mention all the iron, vitamins and minerals in it that are ‘designed to boost your immune system.
II. Roasted Red Beets, Goat Cheese, Orange, Mint & Pine Nuts Salad @ The Table
Well, we gave away all the ingredients in the title but the key word here is fresh goat cheese. And generous amounts of it. Contrary to popular belief, cheese doesn’t have to be fattening or bad for you when it’s this organically sourced/ tossed together with such fresh, raw ingredients which are bound to aid and calm your digestion. Plus those pine nuts add the most flavourful crunch we’ve experienced in a while.
We’re not going to lie, we usually follow these up with one of The Table’s more sinful mains but hopefully, your self control is a little better than ours.
Cost: Steep considering we’re usually still hungry after, but health doesn’t come cheap @ Rs. 525
Other Options We Love:
The Table Farm Salad is especially unique too considering it’s made solely out of ingredients grown freshly from their Alibaug farm including micro greens and asparagus for an especially healthy meal.
Shaved Snow Peas salad with lemon, mint and parmesan. It’s the perfect summer-time go-to and it’s summer all year in Bombay, sweet Bombay.
Wash It Down With: A nice, fizzy pint of beer. Just kidding. Try the Pineapple, Pear, Ginger and Spinach juice. If your skin doesn’t glow after that, you might want to test your DNA for some alien species’ strain.
III. The Energy Breakfast @ Suzette Creperie
Suzette happens to be right around the corner from our little Bandra cave so it’s a frequent go-to on days our wallets are feeling friendly. Despite the old-world notion that crepes=flour=not so good for you, Suzette’s crepes happen to be made out of buckwheat which in layman terms means, perfectly healthy, gluten-free and good for your digestive system. So feel free to pig out with an array of healthy filling options however, we digress because it’s their Energy Breakfast that wins our hearts every time.
The creperie made our list for the city’s best breakfasts too but this one is particularly great for the calorie conscious. A total about-turn from their cheesy, meaty crepes the menu here is simple. Think yogurt with homemade granola, honey and fresh fruits and a pot of organic tea. We can never resist grabbing one of their fresh croissants, which run out by 9.30 a.m. but we suppose that would be missing the point of this list.
Cost: It’ll keep you energized for the rest of the day @ Rs 290
Other Options We Love: Ok, we know we get hyperbolic a lot but their Basilic Salad is honestly one of our absolute favourites in the city. Lettuce, grilled chicken, fresh and sundered tomatoes, French beans, fresh basil and delicious little cubes of feta combine to give you a captain planet-esque conclusion for Salads.
Wash It Down With: A pure strawberry juice. It’s season right now, and you don’t want to miss this. Tres delicioso. (Sorry if we combined foreign languages).
IV. Nutrition Boost Salad @ The Pantry
Surprisingly filling considering its oh-so-light ingredients, the Pantry’s Nutrition Boost Salad does exactly what it promises. Made up of a base of Lolo Rosso and Arugula lettuce, chunky tomato wedges provide a burst of juicy acidity, roasted pumpkin and candied kumquat lend some much-needed sweetness, the pumpkin seeds add the element of crunch no salad is complete without, while the tender cottage cheese tossed in lemon dressing ensures that your stomach won’t still be growling soon after you’ve licked your plate clean. All accompanied by a crusty, wholesome slice of organic, whole-wheat bread of course. Don’t be too hard on yourself and slather a little butter on it. Hashtag yolo.
Cost: Ok, we get it. Salads don’t come cheap @ Rs. 325
Other Options We Love: Most of their all-day breakfast options are both divinely drool-worthy and pretty damn healthy. We’d go for the not-too-dry akuri of cottage cheese with fresh basil or the seriously innovative Burgul puma with almonds and raisins. Your day cannot go wrong after either.
Wash It Down With: Himalayan Nettle Tea (De-Caffeinated). The Pantry’s de-caffeinated tea offerings are second to none and this nettle concoction has the kind of health benefits that will make that apple look bad at keeping the doctor away. Nettles act as both a blood purifier and an anti-inflammatory agent, besides protecting against hair loss, kidney stones, allergies, hay fever, nosebleeds and myriad other ailments you probably weren’t even thinking about. So yeah, this one’s a no-brainer.
V. Lamb Osso Bucco @ Indigo
Ok so this is a bit of a cheat code on this list but if you just skip the saffron potato side it comes with (a Herculean task if you ask us) Indigo’s Lam Osso Bucco is a well-rounded, nutritious dish if you ask us. Solid, good-quality protein in the form of lam shanks - check. Delicious vegetables in the form of mushrooms, shallots and root vegetables, double check. And if you do decide to eat those beautifully cooked saffron potatoes it comes with, it’s really just the carbs you were missing in the first place for a perfectly well-balanced meal. So yes, as far as we’re concerned, this one makes our healthful list.
Cost: Expensive, obviously, as expected at Indigo @ Approximately Rs. 800
Other Options We Love: The Black Pepper Crusted Norwegian Salmon with Salmon and leek ravioli, braised fennel and lemon caper cream hits the spot every single time. And all those omega-3 fatty acids oily fish like Salmon are revered for are exactly what you need to stay lean and energetic.
Wash It Down With: A Tomato & Basil Consomme with a goat cheese tortellini. We know we veered away from the drinks route we were on but this broth is as light and frothy as anything you’d put in a glass.
VI. Cous Cous Upma @ Indigo Deli
If you’ve followed our food posts long enough you already know our allegiance to this all-day cafe with outlets all over the city knows no bounds. Whatever the food occasion, best burgers, best breakfasts, best pork dishes, or best steaks, this joint has always made the list and we saw no need to exclude it from this list either thanks to their incredible cous cous upma. As CNN traveler put it, “If there’s one place that can make upma hip, it’s Indigo Deli where a base of couscous is tempered with pomegranate seeds, cashew nuts, almonds and served with a pineapple compote.”
Despite our obvious leaning towards unhealthier temptations on this menu, we can vouch for the fact that we can’t help but order up a portion of this delicious upma either way, simply for it’s refreshing flavours. Whatever you’re expecting, it’s better.
Cost: Totally worth it @ Rs. 345
Other Options We Love: The Grilled Tomato and Chèvre sandwich with basil and arugula on herbed whole wheat bread or the citrus sale filled with fresh, citrus fruits, bitter greens, red onions, feta cheese and citrus dressing which is bound to freshen your mouth and re-energise you.
Wash It Down With: Any of their freshly-squeezed juices or smoothies, preferably whatever’s in season so right now, we’ll go with strawberry.
VII. Chicken Burger @ Gostana
Burgers might not sound like the most wholesome food offering around but Gostana’s carved a nefarious reputation for itself just by deconstructing all its elements and replacing it with healthier ones. Their delicious chicken burger’s patty is made up of a full breast, steamed not fried and served with a spectacular egg-white mayo. You know, the kind that feels full fat but actually isn’t?
Personally, we’re big fans of the pasty lamb patty in the lamb version of this same burger too but it’s not nearly as healthy as its hennish counterpart.
Cost: It’s a seriously fulfilling meal @ Rs. 270
Other Options We Love: The Spinach Cottage Cheese Burger is a wonderful option for vegetarians. Healthy, filling, and that herb spread made up of their homemade mayo and basil chutney mix is an absolute winner in our books.
Wash It Down With: A 3/4th Smoothie with Muesli. A delicious blend of strawberry, mango, banana, yoghurt and muesli, it’s practically a meal in itself so don’t order it alongside unless you’re starving.
VIII. Green Apple and Pumpkin Soup @ Kala Ghoda Cafe
A tad cramped but entirely unpretentious, this little cafe is probably one of the most holistic, well-balanced culinary destinations in the city. And it’s been almost exclusively catering to a health-conscious crowd well before fitness became such a fad but you’d be excused if you didn’t label it like that because they mask all that healthy goodness in the kind of good taste that would fool even the biggest health bigot.
So while almost any order here is usually a hit, we still decided to go with the green apple and pumpkin soup as our pick for this list because of the highly unusual flavour combination and the sheer deliciousness of the unexpected final result. Tangy, sour, sweet and tempered with the perfect amount seasoning, this isn’t so much a soup as it is an exploration of the versatility of food. And a commitment to fresh ingredients of course.
Cost: Now we’re talking @ Rs. 160
Other Options We Love: The Sesame Spiked Sweet Potato & Pumpkin Salad is a textural delight, aside from being very lightly dressed and seasoned, making it one of the simple, healthy meals out there.
Wash It Down With: Well, a soup really doesn’t need washing down but their ABC signature juice (Apple, Beetroot, Carrot) is likely to make you feel like every cell in your body has been renewed.
IX. Cambodian Basa With Smoked Pimento Puree @ Smoke House Deli
Where: Phoenix Mill Compound, High Street Phoenix, Senapati Bapat Marg, Lower Parel
With a few outlets across the city, this Impresario hospitality endeavour quickly became second home to all those with a proclivity for the all-day cafe and delicatessen vibe and the quirky doodled decor that graces every branch, only lends to the eating experience. Like most such restaurants, the salad selection is totally on point and all are worth a try but considering the overwhelming volume of salads we already have on this list, we decided to opt with the perfectly flaky, fresh fish instead.
Crisp on the outside, soft and smoky on the inside, the pan seared fish is usually of such fine quality that you hardly need any external flavouring but the dill and pimento puree help to pep it up just enough.
Cost: Seems legit @ Rs. 590
Other Options We Love: Asparagus and Grape Salad with Roasted Fig is definitely our go-to salad option for its tart, acidic sweetness and softness.
Wash It Down With: If it’s hot outside, the cucumber, mint, celery salt and soda is particularly refreshing. Otherwise, we have a bit of a soft spot for the pineapple + ginger + carrot juice combination.
X. The Bento Lunch Box @ Yoga House
It would be borderline blasphemous to exclude The Yoga House from this list considering it’s the city’s most trendy, healthy living destination—part yoga cafe, part organic, good-food restaurant. With self-explanatory titles for all their dishes like ‘I Am Healing’ or ‘I Am Discovering,’ it’s easy to misconstrue them as a bit L.A. Hippie but once the food’s in front of you, you’ll find it delivers on every box it’s attempting to check—health, taste, and wholesomeness.
However, it’s the Bento Box (I Am Completing on the menu) however, that we return to every single time. Thanks to its power-packed ingredients, all neatly tucked into a single box of goodness the tofu and quinoa promise a good kick of high dose protein, particularly helpful for all those who work out, while the brown rice, buckwheat and sweet potato helps with the energy boosting as a rather delicious carb intake. The best part? It’s actually well filling unlike many of the options on this list.
Cost: Your body’s well-being is worth the splurge @ Rs. 380
Other Things We Love: The Poha breakfast for sure. Made up of beaten rice, mustard seeds, peanuts, turmeric and onion, cooked in olive oil with sprouts, the dish is undeniably lip-smacking, without trading up on the health factor.
Wash It Down With: The Immunity Shot. A little shot of well-grinded wheatgrass, the green liquid is fortifying in its immune system boosting properties and let’s face it. In a city like Bombay, given all the pollution we’re involuntarily subjected to, you need this.
XI. Kala Masoor Salad @ Pali Bhavan
Ok, so we’ve got yet another salad but this one is special, really. Indian cuisine is hardly known for its wide variants of raw food, let alone salads, unless we’re talking some chopped cucumber, tamatar, pyaaz with nimbu and salt, but Pali Bhavan’s innovative and aggrandised version of simple Indian dishes led to this exquisite black lentil salad with typically Indian flavourings.
What’s in it? Boiled black lentils mixed with a generous drizzle of olive oil, lime and black salt, tossed with fried grams and peanuts for the most enticing crunch factor, along with a little arugula lettuce, only to be topped off with a mouth watering mango relish. Now that’s a salad that appeals to our flavour-favouring palates.
Cost: Not mentioned
Other Things We Love: The pomelo, coconut salad with mint, fried, crunchy onions for texture is excellent and the grated coconut in it adds some sweetness.
XII. Ethically Farmed Quinoa @ Ellipsis
Chances are that any health conscious friend you’ve got rattles off the health benefits of quinoa the way we might the 10 commandments, and it’s not unwarranted considering it’s been titled everything from the ultimate superfood to the super grain of the future. As one of the most protein-rich foods we can eat, it’s both a vegetarian’s dream come true plus it contains much higher proportions of fibers than other grains. Not to mention the high iron, lysine and magnesium content. Now that we’re done wikipedia-ing all its pros, here’s why Chef Kel C’s version is the absolute best in the city.
First, the quinoa is ethically farmed and locally grown hence it’s ridiculously fresh and possibly the best quality in the city. It’s then cooked in vegetable stock, dressed with his incredible, zesty house vinaigrette, fresh edamame and raw asparagus and ultimately served with the most satisfying, house-made almond creme fraiche, which the chef promises us is absolutely packed with probiotics. The final garnish is a little sesame muesli and some roasted carrots.
Cost: Well..we’re not going to lie, we usually can’t afford this one @ Rs. 850
Other Things We Love: The perfectly simple kimchi salad but it’s best ordered as a starter/side or the exquisitely cooked sea trout which is rare enough to find on a menu as it is. Just a lightly grilled fillet of fish served over a local village, unpolished brown rice along with some grilled tomatoes and kale. Boom.
Wash It Down With: The refreshing ‘Other Berry’ drink combines the goodness of watermelon, pomegranate, cinnamon and bitters to leave you feeling like your body’s thanking you for being good to it (for a change).
XIII. Burnt Garlic Pizza Cracker @ Pishu’s
‘We Sell Good Health!’ screams Pishu’s rather in-your-face slogan but heck, we’re the last ones to complain considering they’ve come to be known for…wait for it..healthy pizzas! Their whole philosophy being ‘healthy, low-cal, pro-biotic, refreshing and great tasting’ we were skeptical about what their pizza was going to taste like but we were pleasantly surprised by the taste and the secret’s all in that paper-thin base.
A serious trump card, the base isn’t actually made of flour at all but of multigrain khakra made of ragi, bajra, jowar and other grains. For most of those who return, it’s the Pizza that gives out the karmic call and the Pizza that never disappoints, no matter the occasion. We particularly loved the burnt garlic pizza toppings that literally heaps on the garlic, sesame seeds and olives with minimal cheese.
Cost: Yes, yes, yes @ Rs. 130
Other Things We Love: The protein griller sandwich is grilled to perfection with a filling of mushroom and soya chunks sautéed with onions and capsicum. Surprisingly filling for something that claims to be only 230 calories.
Wash It Down With: The fresh anjeer shake for a serious iron boost. We all need one.
[In case we missed out on any of your healthful favourites, don’t hold out on us. Let us know in the comments section below. Also, if you have no intention of keeping any of these resolutions, you’d be better off checking out Bombay’s Best Breakfasts For Different Budgets or perhaps the city’s best steaks? Or you could just follow us around the country on a trail of its oldest restaurants.]