My Mumbai In 10 Meals

Condensed milk chuski at Juhu Chowpatty

Condensed milk chuski at Juhu Chowpatty

In my last post I spoke of why I cannot think of one single dish that represents Mumbai but ten meals that cumulatively are the taste of Mumbai for me. The next time you are in Mumbai, make sure you catch at least a few of these ten meals that you must eat in Mumbai. And if you don’t get them all, you know why you should be coming back.

I know you will move past all kinds of people who spill into the narrow, dingy streets of Mumbai to get to these meals. From the Nawwari sari wearing, fish basket lunging fisherwomen out to sell the catch of the day to the designer suit wearing corporate men, stepping into their imported sedans; vegetable shopping Gujarati house wives to the poppy micro-mini shorts wearing hipsters on the way to the next nightspot. Burqa clad women rubbing shoulders with saffron robe wearing ascetics. As you make your way to your destination, you will be reminded that this is a land of eclectic mixtures. And while you savour the food that is served here, eat the chat that is laced with sweet dahi, remember the biggest lesson that Mumbai teaches you – to go beyond fixed notions of origin, ownership and authenticity and accept that the mingling of culture, food, flavours, life and spices – that’s not corrosion. That’s growth.

1. The Street Food

Vada Pav at Andheri Station

Vada Pav at Andheri Station

Street food in Mumbai has a distinctly different flavour from that around the country. What may have started as chaat from UP, eventually got Bombay-ised into a whole new format. The addition of onions and garlic and abundant use of red chilli powder which was traditionally missing in the Lucknowi version adds an earthy quality to most dishes. From paav bhaji, vada paav, potato and onion bhajias, bombay sandwhiches, streetside dosas, patti samosas, pani puri, sev puri, dahi puri, ragda pattis, boiled channa chaat, kala khatta, raw mango slices and various of berries to Chinese bhel, Indian style pizzas heaped with Amul cheese, fresh fruit accompanied by real dairy cream that is so rare to find in most other places. This is a gastronomes delight. As layers of flavours, textures, colours create dishes that burst with flavour in your mouth and hardly an impact on your pocket, it maybe fun to play a guessing game of what came from where and how it may have transformed here.

Where: Versions of street food are available all around the city and everybody has their own favourite destinations. As a start, if you are in the suburbs you could head to Juhu and seek out – Chowpatty, Amar Juice Center, Sharma Chaat Center near On Toes, and hawkers outside Mithibhai college in the Suburbs. In South Mumbai, Girgaum chowpatty snack shops, Bachelors (Chowpatty) for shakes, Indian style pizzas and sandwhiches, and Homji street Khao galli (Fort) offer a spectrum of street food while Cannon (near CST) and Sardar (Tardeo) are famous for pao bhaji, samosa ragda at Gurukrupa (Sion), Haj Ali Juice Centre for Fresh juices, fruit cream, sandwiches and Indian style pizzas (Haji Ali). 

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Flavours of Mumbai

chowpatty.paavbhaaji

It’s now well over a decade since I moved to Mumbai. But I still clearly remember my first glimpse of Mumbai way before that. I was a young, excitable, curious 20 something design student, on the threshold of adult life. The train from Ahmedabad chugged me into Mumbai and I stood mesmerised by the sheer,…

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