Take your taste buds for a treat this Ramzan

The festivities of Ramzan are only a week away. The streets would be soon filled with Seek, Shawarma and Salli vendors. But where would you find the most succulent portions of your favourite Ramzan delicacies? We bring you the most sought for street corners in the city that are a must visit this festive season.

1. The bustling Crawford market and Bhindi Bazaar

The streets from Crawford market till Bhindi Bazaar are set alight with hot and spicy non-veg fried and grill goodies. From kababs swimming in greasy goodness to biryanis soaked in saffron, this place is a feast for the eyes as much as the stomach. The vendors also offer an assortment of dishes that tantalise the sweet buds. Here you get to feast on smooth and creamy Firnis, spongy Malpuwa’s and hot crackling Jalebies.

Places to visit in the area:

Haji Tikka: This is one of the lesser explored gems at Bhindi Bazaar for skewed meat.

Surti Barah Handi: The name Barah itself refers to 12 parts of goat that are cooked over night in different pots (Handis). The tender meat coupled with soft naans will take your Ramzan experience to the next level.


2. Murg and Mutton at Mohammad Ali road:

This time of the year another place in Mumbai that all roads seem to lead to is the Mohammad Ali road. 10 minutes walking distance from Masjid and Sandhurst road station you will find a thoroughfare filled with items that are staple to the hardcore non-vegetarians. This is best place to have juicy mutton kebabs, fiery tandoori chicken. You also find special delicacies that include Khiri (Udder) and Kalegi (Liver) preparations. End your meal with a generous portion of Khichda- a mixture of mutton, rice and just the right amount of spices that fills your belly and sooths your soul leaving the pure taste of Ramzan in your heart.

Also Read: Desi fast food for the soul

Places to visit in the area:

The Shawarma stalls – the cheapest eateries

Chinese-N-Grill: Do not let the name fool you. They cater the most authentic Mughlai cuisine.


3. The cool offerings of the Taj

It is obvious that your heart will yearn for something cool at the end of a hearty meal in this typical summer heat. Head over to the Taj Ice Cream at Mohammad Ali road. This place has been offering rich and icy treats since the past 125 years. It is especially known for its fresh fruit infused ice creams.

If you are cynical about eating at road side stalls then you must pay a visit to places like Jaffer Bhai’s Delhi Darbar, Noor Mohammadi (famous for the ‘Sanju Baba Chicken’), Persian Darbar, Shalimar, Zaffran’s and Bade Miyan among others for the royal taste and experience of Ramzan.

Desi fast food for the soul

Even before the mushrooming of vivid fast-food chains India was the land of quick juicy bites that were available on the streets as well as Udupi’s and Restaurants. Even today the samosas, Vadas and Dosas reign supreme in the fast food era. The desi vendors have realised the need for tantalising the firangi palates and can be seen incorporating the Videsi tadka in most of their dishes.

Here is a list of desi fast foods that are a must try for the lovers of grease and spice.

The Mumbai Chow called Vada Pav
The Mumbai Chow called Vada Pav

Vada Pav: Fondly known as the Indian Burger, the marriage between a spicy potato patty and soft white bun along with sweet and spicy chutneys has been a tradition in Mumbai since 1971. Today every nook and corner of the city has a Vada Pav stall that provides hot desi version of the same. Moreover, fast food chains have picked this tradition and converted it into a universal fare by including flavours like cheese, schezwan and veggies. Now-a-days you can even have your Vada Pav toasted or grilled.

Also Read: Gujarat – The land of culinary surprises

Dosa - A speciality of the south
Dosa – A speciality of the south

Dosa: A speciality of the south this crispy rice bread has become a rage in all the food streets (Khau Gallis) around Mumbai city and a major menu item in restaurants. The Dosa has as many variations as the mind of the cook can think off. From simple to Chinese you can add any flavour to this south Indian delicacy that you wish for. There is a strong belief that somewhere in some street there is vendor who is experimenting with the idea of a chocolate Dosa.

Misal Pav - a Maharashtrian speciality
Misal Pav: A Maharashtrian speciality

Misal Pav: A Maharashtrian speciality that comes from the spice land of Kolhapur. A hot curry mixed with fries made from flour (farsan) with a dash of onion and lime accompanied with soft buns, is one of the favourite breakfast meals in major parts of Maharashtra.

Chaat - favourite of the Indian masses
Chaat – favourite of the Indian masses

Chaat: Another favourite of the Indian masses is the Chaat. Originated in the streets of Delhi this concoction of potatoes, various crispies, lentals and sweet and spicy chutneys has won the hearts of Indians all over the country. There is hardly anyone who does not enjoy an occasional Bhel, Sev Puri, Dahi Puri or Dahi Kachori. The debate on whether it is called Pani Puri or Gol Gappa is never ending depending on if you are from Mumbai or Delhi, but the taste precedes any debate in question.

Items like Franky, rolls and burgers have also received a desi twist and have become an integral part of the desi fast food mantra.

The story behind the famous Dabbawalas of Mumbai

The legend of the Dabbawalas is as old as 125 years. It is said that a Parsi gentleman wanted to have regular home cooked meals in his office. He entrusted the task of getting his tiffin from his house to the office to a gent, this person was the first Dabbawala. This idea was soon adopted by many and eventually became a trend in Mumbai.

Today this a far more complex charge which requires immense dedication and time management on part of the service providers. In Mumbai there are about 5,000 Dabbawalas carrying around 2,00,000 Dabbas every day to offices all around the city.

ALSO READ: The Mumbai Chow called Vada Pav

The tradition is carried on with pride by the underprivileged Warkaris in Maharashtra. They have received recognition from many prominent personalities including Prince Charles. They are known to provide services at 6 sigma level accuracy i.e. one mistake in 60 lakh chances.

famous Dabbawalas of Mumbai

How it works:

Every Dabbawala has been assigned an area. He starts his journey at 9 a.m. in the morning on his special bicycle which has iron carriers to manage the weight of the tiffins that are collected from various houses. Some old buildings do not have lifts but that does not delay the collection.

After the tiffins are collected the Dabbawalas reach their designated railway stations where they rendezvous with their fellow mates. Here the tiffins are organised using a special coding system and are divided amongst themselves for delivery.

Once delivered they are recollected post lunch time and returned safely to their respective homes using the same carriage system.

Dabbawalas of MumbaiEvery single day the Dabbawala’s battle weather, distance and traffic to deliver lunch boxes filled with scrumptious home food and love to the hungry commuters and office goers.

No wonder these men are commended by prestigious Business schools for their expert delivery mechanism and hard work that goes with it.

Gujarat – The land of culinary surprises

Gujarat truly is a land for foodies. Its variations and varieties in food segments is most vivid of all food cultures. Mostly vegetarian the cuisine takes a lot from its Maharashtrian and Rajasthani counter parts.

Every Gujarati meal has to at least comprise of roti, dal, shak (sabzi / veggies), rice, topped off at the end with a refreshing glass of chass (buttermilk).

ALSO READ: The Mumbai Chow called Vada Pav

gujrati sea foodBeing on the west coast of India, Gujrat, is no stranger to sea food and save certain communities like the Jain’s who are a predominant vegetarian race, there are communities here who prefer non-veg on their platter. The Koli Patel’s for instance are hard-core non-vegetarians. Eggs, chicken, goat meat and seafood are as staple to their diet as khaman, dhoklas and khandvis. Speaking of non-veg, parts of Vadodara city, the cultural capital of Gujarat, are filled with street vendors and restaurants that cater to the meat seeking palates. Moreover, it’s hard to miss the spectacular stalls of egg bhurji, fried eggs and omelette pav (bread bun) on every corner.

On the traditional side, the cooking is quite subtle which distinguishes it from other preparations. Also, the inclusion of sweet in savoury dishes gives it a distinct taste. Spices are definitely part of the fare and combined with sweetness give the flavours a tongue crackling touch.

The Gujarati thali has gained renounce not only across the country but also around the world. This is mainly because of the assortment of items that are offered in a single plate. It’s like having a 5 course meal in one go where there are no restrictions on the order of the meal and the dessert can be enjoyed along with the entree.

Gujrati JaggerTraditionally jaggery is used to sweeten the dish. Today many modern twists have been added to the traditionally rich Gujarati preparations, courtesy- the health conscious band wagon.

The Mumbai Chow called Vada Pav

Vada Pav is the defining statement of the street food scene in Mumbai. This simple golden potato patty wrapped in soft white bun with assortment of dry and wet chutneys (sauces) is a darling to the masses.

The legend:

It is said in 1971 one Mr Ashok Vaidya came up with an idea to provide a wholesome snack to customers who were avid hurry. He started his small Vada Pav stall near the busiest location in the western parts of Mumbai- Dadar station.

ALSO READ: The flavours of Tamil Nadu

The Pav’s origin in India can be traced back to the Portuguese era. It was the Portuguese tradition that introduced the white bun that later came to known as Pav throughout India. But the combination of the Pav and the Vada came about only in Mumbai and is a proud tradition ever since. The popularity of the snack is so tremendous that a World Vada Pav day is commended in its honour on the 23rd day of August every year.

Vada-Pav Mirchi

Vada Pav today:

  • The Dadar Kirti college Vada Pav stall is a snack institution that has been vouched for by celebs and common man alike, since the last 35 years. Even today it attracts thousands of customers and commuters daily. This stall is run by Mr Ashok Thakur and his clientele includes the likes of Jackie Shroff and Madhuri Dixit-Nene.
  • The Graduate Vada Pav stall near Bycalla local station is never short of customers. They sell the most authentic style of vada pav with its assortment of desi chatnies including tamarind, chilli and garlic. Even as one of the well-received instalment today, the owners refuse to remodel their stall as they fell the modern methods would slow their endeavours of customer service.
  • Another such stall is the Aaram Milk Bar near Chatrapati Shivaji which is said to have served even the late Rajiv Gandhi and Balasaheb Thackeray.
  • In recent times the traditional Vada Pav recipe has received many twists including the addition of onion, cheese, schezwan sauce. Moreover, there are places were you get your Vada Pav toasted / grilled with your favourite condiments.
  • Jumboking is the first of its kind food chain to grant a brand name to this traditional chow, having its branches in major cities including Mumbai, Lucknow, Pune, Bangalore etc.

vada-pav-recipe

The best part of this dish is that it is easy to make and you can enjoy your own hot variation at home.

Tea traditions in India

India is one of the largest tea producer in the world and second only to China. The first ever tea plantations in India began during the British rule. During that period the British empire wanted to curb the monopoly of the Chinese in the tea trade and therefore they proceeded to produce tea in British Colonies, including India.   

Today there is not a household in this country where this refreshing concoction is not prepared and consumed before starting the day. It is more than just a beverage but an integral part of the daily rhythm of the Indian people. Chai (as it is fondly known in almost all parts of the country) and the Chai wallas (tea vendors) are the most sought for throughout the day for this refreshing cup of vigour. It is one of the most popular beverage in India. Be it hotels, restaurants or the street there is no place you would not find a nice hot cup of tea.

traditional-spices-tea-indiaAccording to sources over 8,37,000 tonnes of tea in consumed in the country in a year. These specialities of the roadside venders are the masala (spicy), ginger and elichi (cardamom) teas. Ginger is the most popular ingredient due its strong taste and health benefits. Nothing like a ‘garam adrak wali chai’ (hot ginger tea) during a cold winter morning.

The ‘cutting’ (half cup) has a special place in every office goers heart. No matter how bad the day has been a nice conversation about business and office politics over few ‘cuttings’ helps relieve all pressures.

Every vender has his own way of brewing the tea and every office or individual have their designated chai walla who gets them piping hot teas on call. There are about 25 different varieties of chai than can be served in 12,000 different variations. Some of the famous tea stalls in India have been catering to customers for decades.

The tea business in recent years has flourished and tea brands compete with each other by bring the consumers different types of teas, these include rich varieties and flavours for tea lovers and green and herbal teas for the health conscious.

Today, most street vendors are not allowed to enter major office spaces but that does not stop the suits and ties from taking a sip at the vendor’s tea corner. It is one of the most easy to set up businesses for small time vendors.