I don't quite remember when the bug caught me, but I have become quite a foodie since some years now. My specialty is to find small hole in the wall joints which serve fabulous food for peanuts.
If you are the adventurous type, you can find such gems in almost all cities in India. Best to ask the locals where they eat and then just go and eat!
Being a Maharashtrian I have natural affinity to the cuisine of Maharashtra in general and western Maharashtra in particular, but really, its very difficult to classifiy cuisines in India, since the taste of food changes almost every 100-200 kms. For instance people commonly mistake Mahrashtrian coastal cuisine to be one and the same and often equate it to Malvani cuisine. In fact, coastal cuisine in Maharashtra can be broadly classified into Konkani, Malvani and Goan (we Maharashtrians tend to think of Goa as our own backyard something which Goans resent- but since I am half-goan myself, I consider it my birth right). All of these have distinct tastes and aromas and the most distinguishing feature is the amount of coconut used, which increases from Konkani to Malvani to Goan. But of course that's not the only difference...
My personal favorites in terms of restaurants include a high number of seafood places :
Mumbai : Anant Ashram,Gomantak (Dadar), Malvan Kinara (Dadar- opp the church...What's its name now?). A fairly comprehensive listing is also
available on www.angelfire.com/id/croon/india/mumbaidiningchallenge.html
Pune: Alas, Malvani Gajalee used to generate enthusiasm in me but not any longer. For Kolhapuri, try Shambhavi (off Tilak Road) and Hotel Maratha Darbar and 'Aware Mess' (same area). For Vegetarians, 'Mathura' on J.M.Road serves some fingerlicking Maharashtrian fare.
Pardon me not having complete addresses but I have always had a generally weak sense of topography. If you really love your food, you will move high heaven to find these places.
Generally speaking, Pune has a poor range of restaurants and most (thought not all) Puneites have a poor sense for food. If you see the queues before Hotel Shivsagar (J.M.Road) and the way some Puneites praise it, you will know what I mean. But maybe I am being too harsh here.
Chennai has a fantastic place in Parrys Corner Area in the Y.M.C.A building which serves North Kerala Muslim Cuisine. Its heaven!
These days I am mulling over whether I should tour India (or at least Maharashtra) to research some more holes in the walls which are foodie heavens. I need to do this as soon as possible...for I fear we Indians are loosing our taste for good food and increasingly being 'Mcdonaldsdized'. The day might not be too far, when we might loose some of these national treasures...sob sob…