THE ESSENTIAL GUIDE TO MATUNGA
For the last 33 years, Dadar has been my home. In this protracted period, I’ve explored both Dadar and its neighbour Matunga, unearthing their many secrets and treasures. From temples to silk to – but of course – the mighty dosa, Matunga is a microcosm of South India. And it’s worth spending time here to experience all it has to offer.
Ask any middle-aged woman living in Matunga East what she wouldn’t be able to live without and you can expect the answer to be Matunga market. Why? Because Matunga market is a haven unlike any other in all of Mumbai.
Sunday mornings are the best (and worst) time to visit, because that’s when all of Matunga descends on this little strip to tick items off their weekly shopping list. Here you will find bhaajiwalas and fruit vendors hawking the choicest produce sitting cheek by jowl with a vendor selling a mind-boggling array of banana chips. Right next to him, you will find a person sharpening the knives of aforementioned middle-aged women as they catch up with each other.
Matunga Market, Lakhamsi Napoo Road, Matunga (e), Mumbai 400 019
Chheda is where the action is most concentrated because they sell everything from Kraft cheese to khandvi. The two adjacent stores run by brothers are, between them, the answer to all things food-related. Here you will find everything an Indian kitchen needs, whether it’s bajra atta, homemade pickle, imported chocolate, grains, spices, papad or just a packet of bhel.
Chheda Stores, 292, Bhanu Jyoti, Lakhamsi Napoo Road, Matunga, Mumbai 400 019. Phone: 022 2414 4245
Who needs Pringles when you have Manjushree? This tiny store on Chandawarkar Road sells freshly-made chips in all varieties and flavours. Yes, even sour cream and onion. And they taste much better than the mass-produced, pre-packaged stuff that passes for potato chips.
Manjushree Chips, Shri Rang Building, Chandawarkar Marg, Matunga, Mumbai 400 019. Phone: 098337 83213
Matunga Flower Market
The Tamil presence has given the neighbourhood its temples, Kanjeevaram idli, and filter coffee but the most significant contribution is perhaps the row of Tamil-owned flower shops that make Matunga’s very own phool gully. A number of these little shops – some as old as 50 years – line the footpath at the intersection of Bhandarkar and Telang Roads. These shops sell gajras to adorn the ladies of Matunga and garlands for every occasion from birthdays and weddings to funerals.
Matunga Flower Market, Bhandarkar Marg, Matunga, Mumbai 400 019
Mysore Concerns/Quality Tea and Coffee
Before there were Blue Tokai and Koinonia, there were Mysore Concerns and Quality Tea and Coffee. The freshly ground filter coffee powder available at Mysore Concerns is perfect for a Sunday pick-me-up when you aren’t in the mood to brave the crowds thronging the eateries in Matunga. At Quality Tea and Coffee, next to Ram Ashraya restaurant, you can buy beans or coffee powder and brand yourself a coffee connoisseur.
Mysore Concerns, Maheshwari Udyan, Matunga, Mumbai 400 019. Phone: 022 2402 5339
Quality Tea and Coffee, Shreeji Sadan, Bhandarkar Road, Matunga, Mumbai – 400019. Phone: 98210 19823
Gomathy Moorthy/Jain and Iyer
For super soft idlis that you can whip up at home, head to Gomathy Moorthy at Noor Mahal Building, Maheshwari Udyan or Jain and Iyer at Shankar Niwas, Brahmanwada. Their idli and dosa batters are as authentic as it gets. You can also buy a ready pack of ingredients for coconut chutney, malagapoodi to be mixed with oil, and sambhar and rasam pastes for the fastest and most delicious South Indian meal you will ever make.
Gomathy Moorthy, Noor Mahal Building, Dr. Ambedkar Road, King Circle Garden, Matunga (e), Mumbai 400 019. Phone: 022 2418 5375
Jain and Iyer, Shankar Nivas, Brahmanwada, Matunga, Mumbai 400 019. Phone: 098194 61778
Lakshmi Silk House
The go-to place for handwoven Kanjeevaram sarees, Lakshmi Silk House claims to be the oldest shop in Mumbai for these traditional sarees. Whether or not this is true, it’s where you should go to invest in an heirloom piece that you can dream of handing down to your granddaughter some day.
Lakshmi Silk House, Bhiwandiwala Building, Lakhamsi Napoo Road, Matunga (e), Mumbai 400 019. Phone: 022 2414 3085
Arya Bhavan opposite Matunga Central station is run by Muthuswamy, the king of South Indian catering in Mumbai. It’s where you should go for your fix of Muthuswamy specials – appam and stew and curd rice that no one else does right.
Arya Bhavan, Shop Number 9 And 10, Bhanujyoti Building, L.N. Road, Opp. Matunga Railway Station, Mumbai 400 019. Phone: 022 2415 9449
Ram Ashraya has a wait time of at least 20 minutes at any time of the day, on any day of the week. But that just means that its food is finger-licking good. The sambhar is not sweet, the dosas are crispy, and the rasam will open up your sinuses. Wash all that food down with a filter coffee, and you’ll be in a food coma.
Ram Ashraya, 24, Shreeji Sadan Building, Bhandarkar Marg, Opp. Matunga Kabutar Khana, Matunga (e), Mumbai 400 019. Phone: 022 2410 2369
A. Rama Nayak
A. Rama Nayak’s Idli House boasts the widest variety of idlis including pepper idli, butter jackfruit, khotto, kancheepuram, and more. Paired with coconut chutney, red coconut chutney, malagapoodi, and green mint chutney, these pillowy soft clouds are great for a lunch as long and leisurely as Udipi service allows.
A. Rama Nayak Idli House, Idli House, #462, Ram Bhavan, Babasaheb Ambedkar Road, Kings Circle, Matunga, Mumbai – 400019. Phone: 2401 2422
This quaint little eatery hasn’t changed since it opened in the 1950s. With its vintage tiled flooring and inlaid wooden tables, the ambience is as charming as the food is delicious. Order everything from their limited menu and eat it in your personal patch of sunlight.
Sharda Bhavan, Lakhamsi Napoo Road, Matunga, Mumbai 400 019. Phone: 022 2414 1271
Koolar & Co.
There are more Irani cafés in Dadar and Matunga than anywhere else in the city. For your dose of these corner side eateries, head to Koolar & Co. at Maheshwari Udyan where you can dig into a six-egg Irani Wrestler Omelette with brun maska and wash it down with milky, sweet Irani tea.
Koolar & Co. Doctor Baba Saheb Ambedkar Road, Matunga, Mumbai 400 019. Phone: 098203 01842
Rajnikant enjoys God-like status in Matunga, and nowhere is this more evident than at Aurora Talkies on the Friday of a movie release. It’s where giant-sized cutouts of the superstar are bathed in milk and 3 a.m. shows are sold out. If suspension of disbelief is not your thing, head here to marvel at the building’s art deco architecture instead. Yes, there is another cinema besides Regal that can boast of this style.
Aurora Talkies, Near Maheshwari Udyan, Dr. Ambedkar Road, King Circle, Matunga (e), Mumbai 400 019. Phone: 022 2409 6666
In fact, all of Matunga hides a treasure trove of art deco buildings that are perfect for an afternoon of ogling while ambling along wide, tree lined roads. Unfortunately, these buildings are fast disappearing since none of them have received heritage status yet unlike their South Mumbai counterparts. Carry your camera and get trigger happy before they’re reduced to rubble.