Mumbai knows no boundaries! If the city doesn’t sleep, it doesn’t stop eating either. While jostling one another in the overcrowded streets, Mumbaikers love to savour street food.
From sinking their teeth into kheema ghotala to savouring hot fafda jalebi to enjoying the usual bun maska with chai – they relish every cuisine available in the nooks and corners of the bustling Indian city.
This weekend my husband and I decided to give in to my street food craving.
Our day started with piping hot fafda jalebi with papaya chatni at Sriram Farsan at Sai Baba Nagar, Borivali.
Skipping our preferred Marathi misal paav – a spicy menagerie of lentils, doused in spicy curry and eaten with the city’s favourite loaf, paav – at Mama Kane at Dadar, we chose bun maska and chai kick. The street vendor outside Churchgate station smothers a sweet fruit bun with a slab of butter to make the classic bun maska.
Once done with fafda jalebi and bun maska, we decided to wrap up our breakfast by gorging on kheema ghotala at Colaba’s Cafe Mondegaar. A hearty Iranian breakfast, kheema ghotala simply melts in your mouth with spices in the right proportion tickling your taste buds.
You can also try popular omelette paav, egg bhurji or keema paav for breakfast. They are usually best at Stadium Restaurant at Churchgate, Colaba’s Olympia Restaurant and Lucky Restaurant at Bandra station signal.
Looking for finger licking lunch, Khau Galli is the best for a variety of options.
Sujata Chanda, an avid street foodie, in between mouthfuls of paav bhaji, said: “Mumbai street food for me is paav bhaji at Khau Galli (at Marine Lines). It is so yummy. It literally melts in my mouth – with extra dollops of butter to go with the spicy bhaji. The ganna (sugarcane) juice to wash it all down works out really well.”
I too filled up on paav bhaji, while my husband worked up an appetite for paav bhaji and egg bhurji.
For those still hungry, Mumbai offers king of all street food and a favourite amongst most thoroughbred Mumbaikars – vada pav.
The best vada pav is offered at Nitin Patil’s Vada Pav stall in IC Colony, Borivali, as well as Ashok Vada Paav near Dadar’s Kirti College.
But we savoured the poor man’s burger at Ashok Satam Vada Paav Stall at Central Telegraph Office (CTO), Fort. Spiced potato served with paav, spiced up with sweet and hot chutney, garnished with garlic flakes and a fried chilly, is to die for. I washed it down with tapri chai.
For snacking, bhel puri, sev puri and paani puri make for a quick bite for hungry travellers. Popped rice spiced with lime, chilli, onion, coriander and tomato usually forms an evening snack for Mumbaikars and also as ‘timepass’.
For dinner, we were torn between eating light Gujarati street food or hogging on street Mughlai.
We decided to dine at Indraprastha Shopping Centre. It offers masala rice papad, an innovation dish created in Borivali. It is made with roasted buttered rice papads topped with finely cut salad with a sprinkling of cheese. It is to be eaten hot. My husband feasted on papad; I opted for toasted vegetable sandwich, a healthy option to finish our street food expedition.
You can also visit Bade Miyan, famous for baida roti. It serves the best non-vegetarian street food. Located in one of the back roads of Taj Mahal Hotel and Palace, it probably has as many patrons as restaurants in the Taj.
No meal is complete without a paan. So we headed to Ghanta Paanwala at Borivali. The owner of the shop, Vinod Kumar Tiwari, has made it to the Guinness World Records for the largest collection of bells, one of which he rings each time he makes a paan.
The paan shop offers 125 varieties of paan and we feasted on his specialty – chocolate paan – made with chocolate syrup, kesar, gulkand (rose jam), cashew, almonds and raisins and dipped in khus syrup.
Back home from my street food expedition, I couldn’t help but think that there were many options I couldn’t try, many places yet to visit and much more to eat. Frankly, this was only the tip of an iceberg, giving a glimpse of the diversity that exists in this Maximum City, leaving me hungry for more.
When in Mumbai, do not miss out on its street food.