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Our quest to discover a great Indian restaurant in

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In our quest to discover a great Indian restaurant in Buenos Aires, after a first not so good experience we finally found a great place… Actually two, though both places are owned by the same family. Mumbai and Katmandu are two great Indian restaurants conceived, organized and run by an Indian family living in Buenos Aires. Mumbai is in the Retiro district, much frequented in weeknights and lunchtime by local businessmen working in the surrounding area of downtown, and several foreign visitors who in search of great Indian food head to were the entire magic takes place… Katmandu, on Cordoba Av, is in the nearby area of Palermo Soho, a bit further towards Palermo Viejo, but very easy to access by any public transport or cab. Both places are beautifully designed and decorated, soft background music creating a peaceful atmosphere in which to delight oneself with greatly done traditional Indian food.

While Mumbai opens day and night, Katmandu only opens during the evening, so don’t even bother to go there during the day for lunch or brunch… it’s so closed that it might even seem just out of business, but no… at night it opens, and during weekend evenings it’s sometimes full, so reservations are a good option, if not, they will set you up in a table nonetheless, but it’s a possibility that you’ll have to wait. Unlike other ethnic restaurants in the Palermo area, Katmandu is big and if you show up with no dinner reservation, this is not a huge problem.

We visited Mumbai for lunch and Katmandu for dinner; both were great and delighting experiences.

Mumbai –which we visited many times since then, for it’s good and at lunch as a pre fixed menu for A$ 22, featuring entrees of pakora and samosa (one of each) and a main course of 10 vegetable curry with homemade cheese, chicken curry and basmati rice (all in one plate) plus a beverage. The menu is brief; there are three/ four options for entrees, main dishes, vegetarian main dishes, basmati rice, and deserts. A complementary dish of chapattis –one per customer- and a set of two dips, one of tomato and mustard seeds, the other of conserved lemons and tomato are offered. The naan is charged on the side. These are made in a traditional tandori oven according to the waitress.

In order to compare different restaurants and menus, we once again ordered Rogan Josh, with Patagonia lamb, Mumbai Fish curry. The curry servings were small portions that should be accompanied by rice as the waitress suggested, so we ordered Veg Biryani –excellent rice, well spiced and with fresh vegetables-. We also ordered the pudina nan. We asked what the traditional drink to have with such meal was and she said either Lassi yogurt or water, we ordered one of each.

Food was good, the curry mix was not too hot but hot in the after-mouth, and the lamb was tasty though a bit too salty; while the fish was good. It was a good eating experience, the Indian chef from Northern India seems to know what he’s doing, and the dishes show his passion for food and Indian traditions.

We visited Katmandu on a Friday evening, one of the hottest days for dinner parties in Buenos Aires specially for working middle class couples, -that use this day as the couple day while kids stay at home-, friends hanging out after work…

We arrived there at 9 PM, by car, thought this is a place easy to access in several means of transport, cab, bus, underground.

From the main door to the left is the kitchen, featuring a huge window that shows what goes on inside, the kitchen seemed busy; however we peaked inside to check the kitchen material, to see if we found the Tandori oven and may be we got hold of some secret techniques of Indian cuisine.

This idea of open kitchen is also a main attraction in a variety of local restaurants such as in Sudestada, and for example, Buenos Aires top notch grill house Cabana Las Lilas, featuring their grill and kitchen at the entrance as a quality sign. The place is well sized, and the tables are big enough to fit all the plates for naan, chapatti, main course and beverages without feeling cluttered.

Unfortunately, our waiter, a charming young man, did not provide a professional enough service… I think he was mostly interested in picking up and chatting with the group of young ladies sitting near us. This was a very off point, because it delayed the service and explanations and irrupted our dinning experience… All and all, I think this was mended by the owner –son of the owner of Mumbai- who approached us, and worked out the situation to the better.

As in Mumbai, there’s a complementary dish of chapattis and traditional dips as a starter, this was as good as in the downtown restaurant.

We then ordered chicken and lamb tandori, vegetarian rice, somosas and pakoras, once again Indian yogurt was our choice for beverage… it tastes fantastically with the spicy food!

The whole experience was very interesting and fulfilling. We were very pleased to have found good traditional Indian restaurants in Buenos Aires. These are great proof of the broadening of the gourmandize option range in the city, not only in terms of numbers of options, but more significantly in terms of great quality food, through which to explore the feel and sensitivity of faraway cultures.

Before the 2001 breakthrough, most middle class educated Argentines traveled around the world and explored first hand distant and exotic cultures. Nowadays, with a 3 to 1 peso-dollar exchange rate, traveling abroad has become a luxury not everyone can afford. But those who back in those days did discover a whole new world, and those who recently found Buenos Aires to be their new home, had the good eye of translating their experiences, transforming them into windows that open from Buenos Aires into fascinating faraway traditions and flavors, thru means of one of humanity’s first arts: the art of cooking.

My passion for Indian Food, Bob Frassinetti

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  • 1 year later...

I love Indian food and I can't wait to try these places when I arrive in Buenos Aires.

Thank you for the recommendation.

"Champagne was served. Emma shivered from head to toe as she felt the iced wine in her mouth. She had never seen pomegranates nor tasted pineapples..." - Gustave Flaubert, Madame Bovary

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Nice job, Bob. Sitting here over breakfast in Devon, England (one minute pouring with rain, the next brilliantly sunny - looking across the Exe estuary to the green green hills of Haldon), reading your excellent written quest for Indian food in Buenos Aires, Argentina is somehow strangely uplifting: connecting us around the world (and around the breakfast table) through "fascinating faraway traditions and flavors, thru means of one of humanity’s first arts: the art of cooking".

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Nice job, Bob. Sitting here over breakfast in Devon, England (one minute pouring with rain, the next brilliantly sunny - looking across the Exe estuary to the green green hills of Haldon), reading your excellent written quest for Indian food in Buenos Aires, Argentina is somehow strangely uplifting: connecting us around the world (and around the breakfast table) through "fascinating faraway traditions and flavors, thru means of one of humanity’s first arts: the art of cooking".

I felt the same thing here in the Northeastern US. Your wonderful account made me think I was there at the table.
These are great proof of the broadening of the gourmandize option range in the city, not only in terms of numbers of options, but more significantly in terms of great quality food, through which to explore the feel and sensitivity of faraway cultures.
Bob, will you soon have a chance to explore other cuisines that have established themselves in BA and post about them also? I am curious about the limitations of ingredients that chefs of other cultures overcome.

Cheers, Johnnyd

"I took the habit of asking Pierre to bring me whatever looks good today and he would bring out the most wonderful things," - bleudauvergne

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  • 2 weeks later...

As a chef here in BA, I would say that we don't have that much in the way of limitations on ingredients and such anymore - some things are bit too expensive to be worthwhile, but there are plenty of local substitutions for most things. Right after the crash, yes it was difficult for chefs here, but now, it's just not that hard to find stuff if you know where to look and which providers to call. At the time Bob wrote the post above, Mumbai and Katmandu were probably the best of the Indian restaurants here, but truthfully, they were and are mediocre at best, from anyone's perspective who knows Indian food. There's a new spot, Tandoor, that's just recently opened, quite good; there's a spot that's a little over a year old, more of a "Brick Lane Curry House" - i.e., British pub with homestyle Indian food, called Bangalore, also quite good. And for Indian vegetarian, there's Tulasi, which is a small lunch counter sort of spot, but really excellent.

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