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Home > Mumbai Guide News > Mumbai Food News > Article > Naik Kitchen in Khotachiwadi serves the original menu of shuttered iconic seafood eatery Anantashram

Naik Kitchen in Khotachiwadi serves the original menu of shuttered iconic seafood eatery Anantashram

Updated on: 20 January,2024 08:10 AM IST  |  Mumbai
Phorum Pandya |

Naik Kitchen in this buzzing corner of Girgaon, serves an original menu of the iconic seafood eatery Anantashram that shuttered in 2007

Naik Kitchen in Khotachiwadi serves the original menu of shuttered iconic seafood eatery Anantashram

Rajesh and Darshana Naik run Naik Kitchen which offers the Anantashram menu from their two-room kitchen and small seating outlet in Girgaon, at the start of Khotachiwadi; (right) the building that houses Naik Kitchen is set to go for redevelopment. Pics/Anurag Ahire

From 1955 to 2007, Anantashram fed the residents of Khotachiwadi and nearby areas its fish-forward Gomantak cuisine cooked on charcoal. Regulars dubbed the shuttering of the homestyle eatery an end of a delicious era when second-generation owners Neelkanth and Baba Khadpe packed up for Goa, where their nephew ran its namesake for a few years. 

Founder Balakrishna Khadpe had first opened Anantashram on Lamington Road in 1932 as a bhojanalay, and moved to Khotachiwadi in 1955. Regulars flocked to it every day for their daily wholesome non-vegetarian thali meal, and bills were settled on a monthly basis.

A typical Gomantak thali with fish curry, surmai kadi, chicken rasa, bombil fry and sol kadi and kismur
A typical Gomantak thali with fish curry, surmai kadi, chicken rasa, bombil fry and sol kadi and kismur

In February 2020, 58-year-old Rajesh Naik, a friend of Khadpe brothers — Baba and Neelkanth — brought back the Anantashram menu with their consent at his restaurant, Om Shanti Bhuvan in Thakurdwar. He had to close it within a month during the pandemic. Despite the setback, Naik reopened the eatery as Naik Kitchen at its present location in February 2023. Fittingly, next month will see its first-year anniversary of serving Ghar Guti Paddatiche Gomantak Jevan (homestyle Gomantak meal). Naik, who earlier ran the canteen at Hinduja College for 10 years, has employed three acharis (chefs) who had worked in the OG kitchen since the 1980s.

Vijay Narayan Mogarkar is the achari who is single-handedly manning the kitchen on the day we dropped by. “I joined Anantashram in 1980. I didn’t know how to cook and learnt the ropes from a senior chef. Since then, I have been preparing all the dishes on the menu,” the 75-year-old Konkani of Rajapur, Ratnagiri smiles with pride.  

Typically, Gomantak

The menu at Naik Kitchen offers homestyle Gomantak cuisine of Goa — fish kadi rice comprises bangda (mackerel), paplet (pomfret), surmai (king mackerel), javla (small prawns), tisrya (clams), and sukke and kurlio (crab), depending on catch of the day. Gauthi chicken and mutton curry also trace back to homestyle coastal delicacies. A fish/meat thali costs between Rs 175 to Rs 200. All food is freshly made in a tiny kitchen.

The space beside can accommodate four to five chairs for patrons who prefer a quick bite on the go. Through a window partition, the Naiks entertain take-away orders. The masala is what makes the food unique. “We source 20 spices and grind it in our kitchen chakki to maintain consistency. The masala gets a blackish-brown tinge from roasting,” says Naik, rattling off the inclusions like khus khus, jaiphal (nutmeg), dal chini (cinnamon), javitri (mace), lavang (cloves), kali miri (black pepper) and saunf (fenugreek).

The food is cooked in coconut oil; even the coconut milk is freshly pressed in the kitchen every day. “This ensures our kadhis and curries are dense,” informs Naik. The dishes get their zing from two chilli varieties — Sankeshwari and a Goa-sourced chota gauthi mirchi.

Every second day, Naik visits Sassoon Dock at 5 am for fresh catch. Bhamini, a Koli fishmonger, has been cleaning and slicing his fish for years. “This process takes an hour. The surmai has to be cut longitudinally; while paplet, bombil, the bangda have to be cleaned of its gut; mandeli has to be cleaned on both ends. After I bring it to the kitchen, we wash it and store it in salt,” he reveals. A sharp whiff of sea-sourced fish wafts across the seating area. “That’s the tempering of sukha javla that we serve in the thali,” Naik explains noticing our curiosity.

James Ferreira at his residence  in Khotachiwadi
James Ferreira at his residence in Khotachiwadi

Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays offer an all-veg menu (it is also available through the week) that leans towards Maharashtrian and Konkani palates. Popular picks are zunka bhakri, dalimbi usal, tomato batata rassa, vaal, baingan bharta, bharli vangan, sukka aloo bhaji, usal, chawli, masoor, kala vatrana, moong, math, and a vegetable every day. When there is demand, Naik sources kharvas made from jaggery. “The only difference is we don’t cook on coal, as it is not feasible in our small kitchen,” Naik confesses.

Journey man

Naik’s father fled from Goa to Bombay (now Mumbai) as a 12-year-old and became an accordion player and a movie poster artist. He inherited his culinary prowess from his mother, who roped in him and his younger sister to help sell batata vada, puran poli, sabudana vada, ladoo, karanji, chakli and shakarpara around Colaba, Cuffe Parade and Sassoon Dock.

Vijay Mogarkar has been a cook with Anantashram since the 1980s
Vijay Mogarkar has been a cook with Anantashram since the 1980s

“I would be at our makeshift stall by 5 am and return at 10 am to attend school at noon. In the evenings, if we had any food left, I’d set out to sell it. We also made fried fish that was chakna for Koli fishermen nearby,” recalls Naik, whose son is an engineer in London while his daughter is pursuing data engineering in Mumbai. Today, his cheery wife Darshana helps out in the kitchen where they receive between 100 to 150 orders per day. The building that houses the eatery is slated to go under redevelopment this year. “Until then we will focus on running it at our best capability,” Naik signs off.

Naik Kitchen (Anantashram)
At: Damodar Building, 1/5, Nikadwari Lane, Kandawadi, Girgaon.
Time: 11 am to 3 pm; 7 pm to 10 pm
Call: 9221179999

When Balakrishna Khadpe first opened Anantashram on Lamington Road as a bhojanalay

Girgaon ’s taste icon

Long-time resident of Khotachiwadi, designer James Ferreira has fond memories of devouring the fish thali from Anantashram. “I had stopped making non-vegetarian fare at home. Anantashram became an institution; closing it was the beginning of an end of an era. It had started as a place for people from a community to go to for their daily meals. Staff would shun the one-off visitors as they preferred their regulars to get a seat. It’s great that there is a version of the original but the quality has dipped. I had expressed my intentions to take over after it shuttered. Till date, you can’t imagine the number of people who come by for the food.”

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