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Think Peshawari food in Mumbai, and you immediately start missing your days in Delhi where the options are numerous. North-West Frontier Province cuisine options in Mumbai aren’t many, and those that are there, are mostly in the storied league. More so in Powai, where the exclusive NWFP food was conspicuously absent. Well, no longer. A 15-minute ride northward on the LBS Marg takes you to Khiva, the exclusive restaurant that offers authentic cuisine from Central Asia!

Ambience of Khiva in Neptune Magnet Mall in Bhandup, Mumbai:O it’s huge! That’s what struck us first. Close to a decade in Mumbai, and you start getting used to small places. And so, when you see a big restaurant, your eyes widen in wonder. Really? You want to pinch yourself, this big in Mumbai? Well-spaced out with large tables, Khiva, adjacent to the Mc D in Neptune Magnet Mall, looked every bit of an inviting place. The staff, noticing our amazement, happily announced that they also had a lounge area on the, perhaps, mezzanine floor. Really? We asked again. And they showed it to us post our meal. Boy! Is the place really big, with a separate bar area. Couldn’t help but observe that corporate and social events would be a big hit here.

With the décor at Khiva, they have tried to bring the Central Asia experience – subtle and classy, with murals on the walls depicting regular life at the NWF Province, matching jars and pots. They sure have done their best to transport you to another world. Even their menu card gives a plethora of information on the life and times of the enigmatic land. The best part was, when I asked for cutlery when the food was served. The staff smiled and said that they prefer the guests to not use the fork and knives for the real Afghani-Peshawari experience!:-)

Food at Khiva in Neptune Magnet Mall in Bhandup, Mumbai: We explained to the staff that we wanted to eat only what they considered ‘special’ at Khiva. More than happy with our  enthusiasm, the guy proposed a plate of Sikanderi Raan and a Murg Kebab Platter to start with, over a couple of interesting cocktails. Interesting? We wondered. And found that they made cocktails with Cheese and Dates! And so we asked for The Khan!! The cocktail that had Cheese & Dates muddled and shaken with rum!!! SRK, Beware!!! :-D I settled for Sapota & Tamarind Martini that had mud apples and tamarind water in Vodka and Gin. Both the drinks were absolutely exquisite – The Khan, full and rich; while my Martini was light and playful.

But what was more exquisite was the Sikanderi Raan – marinated so so well and cooked in charcoal. I can’t even begin to explain the flavour. You could easily close your eyes and think to yourself that you were eating this wonderful preparation in the registan of Central Asia! The Murg Platter had 5 different types of Chicken Kebabs – Chandni Kebab made with cream and yoghurt, Chakori Kebab made with Spinach and chillis, Tandoori Shikari Tegdri made with Chicken leg pieces in rich tandoor spices, Sabuta Chooza that had pieces from a full Chicken roast and Seekh Kebab that had olives in it. Loved them all, especially the Chandni, Chakori and the Chooza. And a special clap goes to the Chutney platter that had 5 different types of Chutneys (dips) to team with the starts – Chikoo-Tamarind, Chilly-Garlic, Tomato-Chilli, Yoghurt-Mint and only Mint!

For main course, it was Dum Mutton Biryani – extremely aromatic and full of flavours, yet low on spice. Very tasty. They served it with a yumm Mirchi Ka Salan and a HOT raita!!

A surprise find was their Dal Khiva, Dal Makhni actually, that was so rich and tasty that I converted from being a non-Dal Makhni lover to a Dal-Makhni lover. Vegetarians, make note of this!

For Desserts, I was royally enticed by the Litchi ki Tehri in the menu card. And boy!! What a dish! I have fallen in love with it. An exquisite flavour, litchis in plenty in a rich mix of rice and milk. My first tehri of my life and what an introduction! The benchmark is set!

Final Word on Khiva in Neptune Magnet Mall in Bhandup, Mumbai:Go go go! Be it for your office parties or your family get-togethers or the night out with friends. Drinks are extremely reasonably priced, and so are the meals. Authentic north-west frontier cuisine, awesome taste and a great ambience. So much so that, even on a Monday evening, the place was bustling with diners by the time we left.

Your search for good, reasonably priced Peshawari-Afghani food in Mumbai, ends at Khiva!

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