Falling In Love With Mumbai’s Most Iconic Kheema Pao
India Marks

Falling In Love With Mumbai’s Most Iconic Kheema Pao

Olympia Coffee House has maintained its classic Irani cafe look on a street flooded by the likes of Nike and Mcdonalds. The restaurant’s appearance alone is as iconic as its food, and the joint doesn’t plan on going anywhere, furthering the ironic truth that one of Mumbai’s local favourites thrives in a bustling tourist area.

For many, breakfast is cold milk poured over chocos or a bit of butter slathered over a piece of lukewarm toast - such is the life of the average working stiff. However, if you’re a Mumbaikar that lives close to Colaba Causeway, there’s still hope for a nourishing naashta that’s so damn scrumptious you’ll jump out of bed like it’s on fire just to get there in time for breakfast.

Olympia Coffee House is trapped in the year 1918 in the most beautiful sense. Two rows of marble-fitted tables create a passageway for a team of topi-topped waiters to hustle to and fro, the blur of dark grey uniforms reflected in the many mirrors built into the wood panelled walls. Three to four bushy bearded head honchos oversee the cafe, their stoic faces concentrating on every move made in the place, ensuring the cafe’s service is efficient as the food is mouthwatering.

The overwhelming ambience aside, it’s time to highlight their piece de resistance, the kheema pao. This minced mutton dish, know to be one of Mumbai’s best street treats, is a favourite amongst the cafe’s large number of regulars. Only available during breakfast (7-11 am) Kheema is served to you hot in an instant.

Image source: Julian Manning

This is often a tell-tale sign that a restaurant isn’t doing your food justice and the source of your food is a day old vat, bubbling dejected in a corner. However, Olympia Coffee House runs such a tight ship it can serve up cafe favourites in a jiffy because its turnover is so high. Fundamentally, it’s food served at Mcdonald’s speed for people who actually enjoy good, wholesome food.

For those unfamiliar with keema, it isn’t a photogenic plate of eggs benny. It’s a mess of comfort food that look shit on camera and tastes like heaven. It’s where cinnamon, garlic, green and/or red chillies, coriander, and even a few peas, can all live together in harmony with tender, minced mutton.

The Keema comes with pao, the iconic carbohydrate companion of Mumbai, however instead of the traditional bun they offer thick slices of white bread, so soft they make your pillows feel like sacks of potatoes. The bread also has a lovely crust. And, of course, one must wash all this down with a cup of good coffee (if you don’t like sugar give ’em a heads up).

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