Mumbai’s East Indian Food Culture And Recipes

East Indians?

As I’ve mentioned on my other site, I belong to the of East Indians, an ethnic group of Christians that are indigenous to Bombay or Mumbai. Most people don’t know we exist and get us confused with American Indians or other Indians from the East of India who aren’t really called East Indians. They’re called Hyderabadi, Bengali, Madrasi, etc all based on the culture or location they belong to.

But we’re called East Indians for a reason that’s really questionable. Our ancestors wanted to distinguish between other Indian Portuguese Christians such as the Goans and Mangloreans who were coming to Bombay by the gazillion. So they decided to show their affinity for the British East Indian Company and changed our community name from Portuguese Christians to East Indians. They must be turning in their graves to find out that the British East India Company soon ceased existence.

But anyways, to simplify, East Indians are the indigenous Christians of Mumbai and the North Konkan region of India. If you want to read more about my culture, head over to my other site and read the post on East Indians of Mumbai.

But I’m here for the food. East Indian cuisine is spicy, tasty, delicious, luscious, mouth-watering, heartwarming, filling, and almost any other droolsome descriptor you might think of.

Here are some of our favorite East Indian recipes. For the ones we’ve not added here yet, just find any East Indian ‘aunty’ or ‘uncle’ (as they’re lovingly called’) and they should tell you. If you can’t find any, well, it’s probably because we are disappearing, isn’t it? If you find them, and they don’t tell you the recipe, let me know and I’ll take pics and write them up for you soon.

Traditional East Indian Poultry Dishes

Duck Moile

East Indian duck moile curry in a black bowl.
Duck moile is the tastiest East Indian curry!

East Indian Duck Moile is another traditional dish that’s easy to make and full of flavour. Serve with rice, or hand breads, a cooling salad and you have a perfect meal!

Chicken Tope

East Indian chicken tope dish in a white bowl.
East Indian chicken tope, the all in one meal!

Chicken tope, much like mutton tope is an easy all in one recipe. Be it for lunch or dinner, it’s the East Indian quick fix or all in one dish. Chicken, poha, and bottle masala. What else do you need?

Roast Chicken

Roast Chicken - AbbysPlate
Roast Chicken Thighs

Sometimes we just roast chicken thighs. Always tastes amazing with the kashmiri chillies, doesn’t it? Especially with the caramelized onions. And me, I just love those roast chicken skins, almost as much as roast pigling skin. Don’t you?

And sometimes we roast the entire chicken. Doesn’t everyone? It’s perfect for Christmas when we’re not ordering a stuffed pigling.

Stuffed roast chicken East Indian style.
East Indian Stuffed Roast Chicken

On that note, I need to go look for the missing chicken. Hopefully it’s not roaming headless somewhere, spilling stuffed liver pudding from its insides. 😉 Maybe we’ll catch up again sometime soon for other East Indian food? Maybe sorpotel pav or chitaps?

Chicken Liver Stuffing or Giblet Stuffing

Traditional East Indian liver pudding on a white plate.
Liver Pudding aka Liver Stuffing

The traditional East Indian stuffing for Christmas meals consist of a chicken liver and bread pudding that’s stuffed into the chickens’ cavity before roasting. Sometimes also called a giblet stuffing, here’s how to make this delicious homemade liver stuffing.

List of East Indian Recipes using Chicken or Duck Meat

Traditional East Indian Pork Dishes

Sorpotel

Swert sorpotel curry.
Mom’s sweet sorpotel made with wine

Mom also makes a better-tasting version of sorpotel. Her secret ingredient, my homemade wine instead of vinegar? I absolutely love sweet sorpotel, as do most of my friends that gorge on her food. So different!

But since I haven’t had the chance to put up mom’s recipe, click here to see the step-by-step sorpotel recipe with pictures from Uncle Jude in Australia.

East Indian Pork Vindaloo

Pork vindaloo in a steel vessel on a black and white table napkin
East Indian pork vindaloo

A must-have dish at weddings, birthdays, parties and even funeral celebrations, the traditional East Indian vindaloo recipe has its own variation in every East Indian home. A derivative of the Portuguese carne de vinha d’alhos, you won’t find an East Indian or Goan who doesn’t love eating this lush spicy dish. If you’re looking for our recipe, here it is!

Pork Tamriad

Pork tamriad in a bowl next to a plate of rice.
East Indian Pork Tamriad

If you like Vindaloo and sorpotel, you’ll love the tamriad. It tastes like a cross between the fiery vindaloo and the spicy pork sorpotel. Who wouldn’t love this spicy East Indian pork pickle dish?

List of East Indian Recipes For Meals

Traditional East Indian Meat, Mutton or Veal Dishes

Mutton Paya Curry or Goat Trotters Curry

Rich red mutton trotters curry or paya curry is one of the popular East Indian dishes
Rich red mutton trotters curry or paya curry

One of the most loved East Indian dishes has to do with feet, goat’s feet to be exact. Okay, well sheep feet sometimes too. But feet! I have some friends in European countries who can’t even understand how we eat fish heads, goats feet is too far for them. But like I always say, offal is good! And mutton trotters curry is as yummy as ever. And seriously, how can you go against tradition? Just try to make your own paya curry and see!

Brain Masala

Brain Masala curry - AbbysPlate
Brain Masala curry

Yeah, that amazing dish of goats brains with a special spicy masala tastes amazing. It’s even more mouth-watering with my mom’s addition of coconut milk, cashewnut paste and cream. Have you ever tried it that way?

Vajri Khudi

Adding potatoes and tripe to the curry.
Vajri khudi in the making

Goat tripe curry or vajri khudi is a food that my relatives have a love-hate relationship with. Me, some days I love it, some days I don’t. It’s hard to decide. To judge for yourself, read the vajri khudi recipe here.

Beef Tongue Roast Recipe

Tongue Roast and chillies in a pot.
East Indian Beef Tongue Roast

Beef tongue roast could make or break your party! How? It’s a dish that disappears quickly because it’s awesome! Everyone loves it. So if you don’t have enough tongue roast at your East Indian family gathering or party, there will be complaints! Click here if you want a recipe for an easy-to-make East Indian Tongue Roast.

Boiled Tongue (Ox of Beef)

Slices of boiled tongue on a blue chopping board.
Boiled tongue. Simple ad easy!

When you don’t have the time to make some tongue roast, the easier option is to make boiled tongue and serve it with boiled cabbage or green peas. That’s what we do! It hardly takes 20 to 30 minutes and you have a good appetizer that you can serve with chutney or even use in sandwiches.

Corned Tongue or Salted Ox Tongue Recipe

East Indian Corned Tongue on a black tray With Chutney in a white bowl.
East Indian Corned Tongue With Chutney

Yummy as ever, corned tongue is something we eat for special dinners, be it weddings, funerals or celebrations. Making corned tongue takes time and effort, and you have to do it just right to satisfy the tastes of many. There’s always a traditional salted tongue recipe to the rescue, and this is ours!

BBB Curry

Mom's-Balls-and-boobs-curry - AbbysPlate
Mom’s original – brains, kapuras, and udders curry – tasty and spicy

Okay, this one isn’t original East Indian food, is it? But it’s made using the East Indian jungle khudi masala, so it’s sort of a derivative of our lovely cuisine. I love the BBB curry. Goat brains, goat balls, and goat boobs or udders in that spicy gravy. It’s so much better than eating them on a shig.

Ball Curry

Meatballs in a white bowl with curry.
Ball curry

East Indian Ball Curry is a deliciously spicy and flavourful curry that has meatballs in it. Served with rice, chitaps, or fugias along with a salad makes a perfect meal.

Mutton Lonvas Curry With Pumpkin

Lonvas of mutton curry.
Lonvas of mutton curry

Mutton & Pumpkin Lonvas is a traditional East Indian curry that you’ll find in most East Indian homes every week. Simple and easy to make, mutton lonvas is mouth-watering and delicious! 

List of East Indian Recipes For Meals

Traditional East Indian Seafood Dishes

Prawn Chilly Fry

Prawn Chilly Fry is easy to make in 20 minutes
Prawn Chilly Fry or Shrimp Chilly Fry

Now prawns are one of the favorite foods of some people, my sister included. No wonder mom makes the traditional prawn chilly fry quite often. This recipe for the traditional prawn chilly fry or shrimp chilly fry is easy to make in less than 20 minutes.

Crab Curry Masala

Crab-Masala-before-crab-curry - AbbysPlate
Crab Masala before adding in the Crabs

Everyone loves crab curry. Buy a dozen or two dozen fresh crabs from the market and salt them. Fry the crab masala and then add in the two dozen humongous crabs. Regular curry. But mom’s secret recipe includes adding in garlic and onion paste and slit green chillies. It adds so much to the flavour!

Fried Mullets

Three Mullets on a black plate next to sourlimes and tomatoes.
Freshly fried mullets

Quick to cook and requiring just a handful of ingredients, the fried mullet fish recipe is a good option for any meal. With a nutty oily taste, mullets have a strong flavour, and go well with dal and rice!

Fried Mudskippers निवटी फ्राय

Fried Mudskippers on a plate garnished with mint and a lime.
Easy fried mudskippers

Mudskippers or mudfish as they are known in English are called Nevti (निवटी) in Marathi, or newties as we East Indians call them. This amphibious fish is tasty and can be eaten by simply frying them with masala. Here’s the recipe!

Surmai Masala Fry or Fried Kingfish Recipe

Surmai or Kingfish fried in a pot.
Fried Surmai or Kingfish

Surmai as it is locally called here in Mumbai, Maharashtra is also known as Seer Fish or King Fish or Indo- Pacific King Mackeral and belongs to the family of mackerels. The Indo-Pacific King Mackeral is found in the Indian Ocean and the surmai fry is quite a popular dish on the menu of seafood restaurants around India.

Bagra Chilly Fry – Mackerel Stew

bangda chilly fry or mackerel stew in a plate.
Bagra chilly fry or mackerel stew

This mackerel chilly fry tastes delicious and is healthy too! It is quite easy to make with just a handful of ingredients. It gives the mackerel a yummy spicy and sweet taste that makes your mouth water, probably much more than the fried mullets do.

Fried Pakat or Ray Fish

Pakat or ray fish fried with bottle masala.
Pakat or ray fish fried with bottle masala

Ray fish or pakat as we call it locally in Mumbai are soft to eat and tasty. You can make a curry of this fish or just fry them with bottle masala like this recipe.

List of Eastya Seafood Recipes

Traditional East Indian Breads and Rice

Foogias

East Indian balloon bread in a sieve and frying pan.
Foogiyas, foogias, balloon bread!

Little golden fried balls of dough that are soft as heaven and disappear as quickly as they’re placed on the table, that’s foogias. Foogias are just one of the many traditional East Indian varieties of bread; the others being handbreads or apas, chitaps, orias, and more.   

The foogias batter is a mixture of maida (refined wheat flour), a little bit of rice flour, coconut juice or milk, sugar and yeast that is mixed and left to rise overnight. In the morning the dough is formed into small balls by squeezing it through the thumb and forefinger and fried till golden brown. The foogias are eaten with dinner or lunch and go especially well with moile or sorpotel.   

Gluten Free Chitaps or Rice Crepes

Gluten Free version of Chitaps - AbbysPlate
Gluten Free version of Chitaps

These light and fluffy crepe like savories are yummy, tasty and a whole lot more. I’ve always loved chitaps and find them delicious. So this time I made them myself using a gluten free recipe.

Bhokache Varias

Orias on a black plate.

Orias, also know as Varias, Varies, Worias, Waras or Bhokache Varias or Bhokyachi Wadai are an East Indian doughnut-shaped bread made for east Indian weddings and special occasions. This lentil flour bread is quite tasty and no traditional East Indian wedding would be complete without it.

East Indian Wedding Rice

Traditional East Indian wedding rice in a white platter.
Traditional East Indian wedding rice

East Indian Wedding rice is a delicious and tasty dish served at most East Indian weddings and special functions. This rich rice goes well with everything!

List of East Indian Recipes For Bread and Rice

Traditional East Indian Pickles & Salads

Kadmat or Cuchumber

Cuchumber kadmat - refreshing East Indian salad - AbbysPlate
Refreshing Cuchumber or kadmat salad

Remember the heat of summer that’s only cooled by that refreshing mango salad? Here’s my dad’s version of the traditional East Indian kadmat recipe.

Dry Bombay Duck Pickle

Awesome-tasting-bombil-pickle - AbbysPlate
Awesome tasting bombil pickle

The East Indian Bombay duck pickle or Dry Bombay Duck Pickle or Sukha Bomblache Lonche is a yummy pickle made of dried Bombay ducks and also works well in chilly fries and other dishes. Click here to get the recipe.

 East Indian Mango Chutney

East Indian mango chutney with almond slivers on top.
The East Indian Mango Chutney is very like the murabba, chunda or Varenye

Another favorite pickle is the East Indian Mango Chutney. It’s so like the murabba or varenye isn’t it? We make kilos of it in May and expect it to last through winter. But most times it’s gone by the end of the monsoon. Have to probably make a few more kilograms next year. Recipe link here.

East Indian Tomato Kusondi

Tomato Kusondi Pickle Recipe
Tomato Kusondi Pickle Recipe

A perfectly sweet and tangy pickle made from tomato, the kusondi has been carried to far reaches of the planet. Yes, every time relatives come down to India, they carry back bottles of the tomato kusondi with them. Find out more about the yummy East Indian tomato kusondi pickle here!

Join our Facebook Group AbbysPlate for discussions.

List of the East Indian Salads and Pickles

Traditional East Indian Drinks

Kimad

East Indian Kimad - AbbysPlate
East Indian Kimad

Quite similar to mulled wine or brandy, the East Indiankimad is a mix that will warm your bones on the cold winter nights. This warm drink is made with a mix of spices and country liquor. And is almost always served at the East Indian umracha paani before the weddings.

East Indian Currant Wine

Traditional East Indian Currant Wine
Black Currant Wine

Is there any East Indian who can say they’ve not tasted the traditional wine? Served at christenings, communions, weddings and more, the traditional East Indian wine makes its entrance at celebrations before any other drink does. No celebration and no party can start without the ceremonial toast with this sweet port-like wine. And every family has their own recipe for this wine, some are even well-guarded. Ask an East Indian aunty for a recipe, and they might leave out a key secret ingredient of the wine; or so they say. But if you need our recipe, follow the link in the list below. Sukhala!

East Indian Fresh Grape Wine (Red, Black, or Green)

Fresh grape wine in two glasses.
Homemade Grape Wine

This East Indian grape wine recipe is a mix of my aunt’s and my granny’s recipe. It’s easy to make at home in 3 weeks whenever you have fresh grapes available. Not as popular as the black currant wine, but it’s good for an economical wine to accompany regular meals.

List of the Traditional East Indian Drinks

Traditional East Indian Cakes

Cakes, cakes, and more cakes! All East Indian! Which is your favorite East Indian cake? Is it the thalie sweet, coconut cake, Christmas cake, or another cake?

Coconut Cake

Coconut cake log and slice on a black plate
Coconut cake log

My cousins love coconut cakes any given day. It’s a bit different from the traditional East Indian Thali Sweet. And it’s a bit easier to make the batter, since you don’t have to leave it overnight. My sis makes this soft and dense recipe that we love to have for tea. And a plus point is that it doesn’t have any maida in it!

Sand Cake or Rice Cake (Modified Gluten-Free Version)

East Indian Sand cake or gluten free rice cake recipe.
Sand Cake or Rice Cake

Sand cake has been named for a reason. Its texture feels much like grains of sand. And it tastes absolutely perfect when it’s fresh out of the oven. Drizzle some jam on it and it gets even better. Sand cake is traditionally made using a mix of fine wheat flour and rice flour, but here’s my modified gluten -free sand cake recipe!

Bol De Coc

A slice of Bol de coc
Bol De Coc

Quick and easy to make this coconut cake, Bol de Coc is a favorite tea-time snack. This cake has a delicious coconutty taste and a moist crumb and is make any time of the year.

Date and Walnut Cake

Date and walnut cake on a black tray next to pieces of walnuts and dates.

A delightful cake made of sweet pitted dates and crunchy walnut pieces, the Date and Walnut Cake is often made for Christmas, special events, and birthdays. Easy to make at home, this traditional East Indian version from Mumbai is a much sought after Christmas delicacy!

Thalie Sweet

Diamond shaped thalie sweet.
Delicious Thalie Sweet

A delicious cake made of egg whites and coconut, Thalie sweet is usually around Christmas time and for special occasions. This yummy cake has a mouthful of coconut in every bite! Simple and easy to make, it is definitely worth a try!

Dark Fruit Cake

East Indian Dark Fruit Cake

This Christmas, why not try some Rich, tasty and to die for dark fruit cake. Dark fruit cake is a must for Christmas, so dense and moist it will leave you craving for more. Almost every East Indian occasion is celebrated with cake, be it a christening, a communion, or a wedding, and of course, Easter Lunch and Christmas Dinner.

Light Fruit Cake

Light Fruit Cake for Christmas.

This Light and easy fruit cake is a delicious treat for Christmas or even at tea time. Who can resist a yummy fruit cake? Not me 😉 Easy to make and ready in just an hour, this cake is a delicious treat for dessert or a snack.

List of East Indian Cake Recipes

Traditional East Indian Snacks

Soft and Crispy Date Rolls

East Indian Date Rolls on a baking tray fresh out of the oven
East Indian Date Rolls fresh out of the oven

Date rolls are little bits of heaven! They taste like buttery shortbread cookies that have been stuffed with sweet black dates and pieces of walnuts. Although they’re traditional East Indian Christmas sweets, they’re also perfect for a sweet tea-time snack. Find the recipe here!

East Indian Nankhatai

Nankhatais on a black tray with a golden star.
Nankhatai for Christmas

Simple and easy to make these East Indian Nankhatais are a perfect treat for Christmas. But you can make them as a tea time snack throughout the year. Ready in a short while, this melt in the mouth eggless nankhatai leaves you wanting more! And they’re the perfect addition to your Christmas platter.

Boros or Borose

East Indian Boros
East Indian Boros for Christmas

Boros is an East Indian Coconut cookie usually made for Christmas or as a tea-time snack. Easy to make and tasting delicious, it’s really coconutty and soft enough for granny too.

Bolings

Baked bolings on a baking tray for Christmas.
Christmassy Bolings

Bolings are a sweet coconut semolina cookie that is made at Christmas time in most East Indian Catholic households! They are simple and easy to make and this yummy coconut treat can also be enjoyed as a tea-time snack any time of the year!

Kulkuls

Shell shaped East Indian sweets called kulkuls in a white bowl next to plastic stars.
Sweet frosted kulkuls

Who doesn’t love these sugary treats? Come Christmas time, people get busy making sweets or buying sweets and these Kulkuls or Carambolas are quite sought after. Not to sweet, they’re perfect for snacking on too. To find out more about the history of the kulkuls and our recipe for them click on the link above. 🙂

Bol Lucrecia

East Indian Bol Lucrecia on a white plate.
Bol Lucrecia

Bol Lucrecia is a traditional East Indian Coconut Pie dessert that is moist on the inside and crispy outside. Bake any time of the year or for that special occasion to impress your family and friends. This colourful coconut pie dessert is so delectable!

Links to Recipes For East Indian Sweet Snacks

Traditional East Indian Desserts

Where do I start? Mass pav, tartlets, cordial, vanilla cream, sojee halwa, cashew rock, walnut fudge, date rolls, too many delicious East Indian sweet desserts to name. I’m trying to make a good long list of everything. If you have a bit to contribute just email me at [email protected] If you want to read the recipes I’ve assimilated so far, the list of East Indian Christmas sweets is here.

Marzipan Easter Eggs

Marzipan based East Indian Easter Eggs - AbbysPlate
Easter Eggs

Easter to the East Indian Catholic Christians is very different from Easter in Western countries. Food wise, I mean food wise. I know we’re all celebrating the resurrection of the Messiah. I was talking about food, or rather sweets. Our Easter Eggs are not normal eggs that are painted or any of those sweet chocolate eggs. Our eggs are made or marzipan, a yummy cashew or almond-based sweet that is homemade and shaped into Easter Eggs, bonnets, bunnies and chicken.

Pancakes

Colorful pancakes for Shrove Tuesday - AbbysPlate
Colorful pancakes for Shrove Tuesday

There’s a lot to be said about the traditional East Indian pancake that’s filled with a lush sweet coconut filling. But why say anything, when I can just go and share the recipe with you. Click here for the East Indian Pancake recipe.

Honey Balls

Frying honey balls in a pan.
Honey balls

Snowballs or honey balls or aitolas or popoges. Whatever you call them, they taste awesome. So here’s a post of my sis making my grandma’s version of honey balls. The ones Aunty Clemy loves as much as we do. That’s why we make them ever so often and take them over. Here are granny’s honey balls. And if you want something different, try my sis’s chocolate-flavored honey balls.

Vanilla Cream or Milk Cream

Vanilla cream on a black plate on a table with a Christmas tree and chair in the background
Vanilla cream tastes amazing!

Vanilla cream or milk cream is one of the purest milk desserts ever. Made from milk that has been condensed and reduced with sugar until it forms a thick paste. This paste is formed into small bite-sized shapes that taste like heaven! It’s lighter and tastier than a toffee or a fudge. Just try some!

Cocoa Fudge or Walnut Fudge

Walnut fudge on a steel plate
Walnut fudge left to set!

Quite similar to the vanilla cream recipe, the walnut fudge goes a step further and adds cocoa and ground cashew nuts, walnuts, or almonds. Our recipe uses walnuts, so we call it a walnut fudge!

Mass Pav or Marzipan

East Indian Mass Pav or Marzipan on a black plate in front of a Christmas tree
East Indian Mass Pav or Marzipan

Mass pav is made for Christmas every year. It can be either made of cashew nuts or almond paste that it cooks till it forms a waxy dough. This dough is then moulded into the shapes of fruits and flowers. Sometimes the shapes made by our friends look normal, and sometimes they look perfectly artistic!

Coconut Cordial

Pieces of coconut cordial on a black plate ready to eat
Coconut Cordial, a sweet coconut dessert!

An easy to make a sweet dish, the coconut cordial is another traditional delicious East Indian dish made of coconut and sugar. It’s easy to make in under an hour and perfect for a last-minute Christmas dessert!

Guava Cheese or Goiabada

Pink slices of guava cheese on a black tray.
Guava Cheese or Goiabada

What better reminder of our Portuguese heritage than a bite of guava cheese or as the Portuguese called it goiabada! Guava Cheese is a tasty East Indian sweet dish prepared around Christmas time without any gelling agents! Want to know the secret why? Read the post!

Both chewy and fudgy, there’s a mouthful of Guava in every bite. You can use white or pink guavas because both turn out delicious no matter what! Psst! We’ve heard that the Goans call it Perad and make it nearly the same!

Links to the East Indian Desserts

Questions about East Indian food? Come to our Facebook Group by TheWingedFork and AbbysPlate for answers.

The list of home cooks and chefs selling East Indian food is here.

About the East Indians of Mumbai, India and their food culture
Pinterest image of ethnic East Indian Food.
Pinterest image of Mumbai's ethnic East Indian Food.
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