Lamba, Mumbai

I looked right and left, trying to find the perfect time to execute my action. Usually, there would be a zebra crossing or drivers would have to wait for pedestrians to cross. However, this was India. Pedestrians don’t wait for the vehicles to stop, drivers have no regard for the speed limit and the red traffic light is the perpetual villain. All of the above makes a generally normal task a dangerous one. Crossing the road.

After about five minutes of waiting for the road to clear, I crossed the road and arrived at my destination for the night – Lamba. One of my favourite joints to eat, Lamba never ceases to amaze. Every time I visit, the food is delicious and after umpteen visits, I don’t need to look at the menu to pick what I want to eat.

The joint has three parts to it. It has an outdoor section with around seven tables, an indoor air-conditioned section with tables stacked against each other on the right, with hardly any space between them, and an adjoining bar. There is a small counter, manned by a rather large Punjabi Man which acts as the reception. This man is always in conversation with the bouncer, who guards the bar and has a sturdy and wiry build. In the outdoor section, there is also a cooking station, which is usually attended by two cooks and is equipped with a tandoor and a grill. It may not be one of the most lavish restaurants in the city but this roadside “dhaba” is one of the star attractions of Chembur.

The “receptionist” greeted me with a friendly smile and I occupied a table for two in the outdoor section. I quickly cashed in my order. I ordered Fried Prawns and Rawas for starters and a full portion of the renowned White Tandoori chicken for my main course.

I spent my time waiting in an idle fashion. The World Cup had started and the most watched sporting event on the planet had everyone in front of their TV screens and it definitely had my attention. The place soon filled up. Customers, some regular,some new seemed to be enjoying themselves. I waited for about fifteen minutes before my food  came.

The food wasn’t plated in a spectacular fashion. It was just the crispy orange prawns placed on a plain white plate and the soft Rawas arranged vertically on a steel plate. I first dug in to the prawns. The crispy coating and the tender meat combined perfectly to make it a knockout starter. Next, I had the Rawas. The coating, though not as crispy as the prawns gave a calming, slightly salty flavour to the typically bland fish. The two contrasting flavours balanced each other and the fish was cooked well. The dish was good, but lacked an X factor and was a mediocre sequel to the brilliant prawns.

The Tandoori arrived seconds after I savoured the last bit of the prawns. The signature dish was presented on a steel plate with an assortment of dips and flavoured onions on the side. The Chicken, however, was not the stereotypical tandoori red, it was coated with a creamy white paste. I could not help expecting big things from one of the highlights of Chembur as I was about to taste a meaty leg piece.

It was one of the best dishes I’ve ever tasted.

The Meat was tender and succulent to the point where it almost melted in your mouth. In all my adventures, I have never seen the cooking of meat mastered like this. The creamy paste gave a wonderful grainy sensation and enhanced the meat which melted off the bone. I relished all the pieces and did not leave a single morsel of food on the plate.

Lamba was a modest establishment but the quality of the food was spectacular. The people are extremely friendly and the quality is consistent whenever I visit. All these factors make Lamba a place which I would love to come back to, and definitely a place which I will suggest all of you to visit once in your lives. I can assure you that it would not disappoint.

My Ratings – Lamba

Crispy Prawns – 7.5/10

Rawas – 6/10

Chicken Tandoori (White) – 9/10

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