Since its earliest days as a Portuguese trading colony, Mumbai's contemporary culinary scene has reflected the diversity of its population and the increasingly demanding palates of its gourmets. Visitors might not find the internationally renowned restaurants of Hong Kong or Shanghai, but they'll still be spoiled for choice. Main meals cost $150-$250 a head.


145 Mahatma Gandhi Road

Considered one of the leading Indian restaurants in the city (if not the whole of India), Khyber is a magnet for Mumbai's high society, attracted as much by the venue's spice-laden curries as its groovy top-floor nightclub. Discreetly lit and with murals by artists Anjolie Ela Menon and M.F. Husain, Khyber remains faithful to its name, serving mostly Mughlai dishes from the country's northern states and what is now Pakistan. Emphasising butter-based, creamy curries such as chicken masala or palik paneer (pureed spinach and cottage cheese), this acclaimed eatery also honours its Muslim heritage with richly spiced lamb kebabs.

Later, if you're still able to move, head upstairs to the Red Light Club for cocktails and dancing to the resident DJ's house and trance. The bodies gyrating on the dance floor are mostly male, although the odd Bollywood actress and her entourage will sometimes make an appearance.

Masala Kraft

Taj Mahal Hotel, Apollo Bunder

Perhaps to offset the fiery spices, the temperature in this curry house would have even a yeti reaching for a shawl. The menu offers all manner of vegetarian dishes - and what's euphemistically called 'non-vegetarian' options. There's also self-service seafood and freshly baked phulka (bread). The vegetable dishes are outstanding - particularly the chestnut and pea curry and spicy potatoes.

However, like most places in Mumbai, Masala Kraft falls down on the drinks list, serving overpriced New World wines - although that may have a lot to do with customs duties. A more wallet-pleasing option is the local Kingfisher beer, which, as any Indian food aficionado will tell you, is the perfect accompaniment to curry.


4 Mandlik Road

Hard to find - a series of Victorian-era lights hanging in a roadside tree are the only giveaway to the location - Indigo, with its cold concrete minimalism, offers a counter-balance of irresistible, aesthetically pleasing European fusion food. The pairing makes it one of the most talked-about dining experiences in town.

Entering a room-length bar propped up by a mostly expatriate crowd downing shooters and enjoying a respite from the fetid evening heat, Indigo opens into a cave-like dining room. Its contemporary ambience is matched by the food. Choices such as ravioli with mashed pumpkin and caramelised onion, or aubergine and walnut risotto, might appear to have little to do with India, but, after a constant diet of curry, no matter how beautifully cooked, you might just be hankering after something a little different.


Taj Mahal Hotel, Apollo Bunder

The management boasts that this is the first sushi bar in Mumbai. In a country where most travellers are told to avoid even salads, let alone raw meat, they may well be right. However, an evening meal here, of cool sashimi and sushi platters, is the ideal end to a hot, sweaty day spent exploring the city. After a bottle of chilled chardonnay, restaurant-goers can mix with the early evening revellers enjoying a drink at the bar, backed by sunset views across the Arabian Sea.