5 Popular Street Foods of Mumbai
‘LIVE THE RUSH’ isn’t this tagline so very apt for Mumbai. This vibrant and high-spirited cosmopolitan which is constantly on move, thus even have some food designed to keep up with this pace. These quick bites are synonymous with Mumbai. They fill in as breakfast/ lunch/ hi-tea/ dinner for many.If Mumbai is a famous for street shops and bazaars , the street food of the city has equally gained popularity , much due to , films.
A Mumbaikar from any strata of society loves to gorge on these finger foods, if for few its food for survival than for few its food to relish. I can say like its said of a typical bollywood masala movie, that this is “enjoyed equally by classes as well as masses.”
So dishing out the five best from this delicious fare :
Do I need to say more !! This famous Indian burger is the soul of Mumbai. We have grown up on it. As history goes the maker of this fast food was Mr. Ashok Vaidya, who started selling this at a stall near Dadar (centrally located hub of Mumbai ) railway station in the 70s.
A mélange of potatoes spiced with green chillies, flavoured with curry and coriander leaves then coated with besan (gram flour) and deep fried, this gives you Vada (a sort of round patty), now this succulent Vada is pursed in between a soft Pav (unsweetened bun), alongwith green chilly and coriander chutney, tangy tamarind chutney and piquant garlic powder.
My mouth is watering as I describe this, reminding me of good old school days, when we had Vada Pav parties, this tradition continues across generations.
I remember there was a time when it was priced at mere Rs.2/- and now somewhere at Rs.15/- or so, still very very very reasonable for everyone and actually price doesn’t matter at all. With ever growing popularity, variations were introduced in this, like the famous Jumbo Vada Pav chain, as the name says a bigger version of Vada Pav, for those with bigger appetite. Then Vada Pav with maska (butter), near Mithibai College is well known and also Vada Pav sandwich, here instead of bun a bread is used as in a sandwich, but the end result of this flavoursome snack cum meal has remained consistent. At every corner, bylanes, main road you will find a Vada Pav gaadi (stall or cart), tempting you and now available in restaurants as well.This delectable Maharashtrian savoury has a cult status and will remain so forever.
This pride of Mumbai is now nations pride too after winning the award “The World’s Tastiest Vegetarian Dish” at Foodie Hub Golden award held in London very recently this year.Believed to have originated in Kolhapur (a city in Maharashtra) almost 40 years back. This spicy concoction of matki (moth beans) and watana (dried yellow peas), tempered with mustard seeds, curry leaves, chilli and spice powder or special misal masala (powder), garnished with chopped onion, fresh coriander and crunchy farsan or chivda (dry snack item) and served with Pav (breadroll or bun) is yummylicious. The reddish orange layer of oil (tarri) that floats on top is the peculiarity and enhances the flavour. There are variations in this as well, apart from the above garnish you can top up curds also and enjoy it with or without the Pav.Served across Mumbai in almost all restaurants but the best you can get is at Maharashtrian restaurants in Dadar, mainly Aaswad restaurant. And its amazing to know that most of the restaurants will serve you extra helping of the tarriwala curry (misal) at no extra cost, such is the hospitality. So do enjoy it whenever in Mumbai and you will crave for more.This again just like Vada Pav has a cult status and adds to the cultural aspect of Mumbai.
Chaats & Pani-Puri
The name itself is so tempting. Chaats are famous almost all over in India. And mainly Delhi is quite well-known for it. But Mumbai adds unique flavor to this medley of scrumptious fare. Chaat is basically one name given to describe some various snack items. Such as Pani-puri, Sev-puri, Bhel-puri, Ragda-Pattice, Dahi-Puri, Aloo Tikki Chaat, Samosa Chaat, Kachori Chaat etc. Let me brief you on the most loved and famous amongst these.
The Pani-Puri is also called Gol-gappa in North and Puchka in Bengal. A tiny deep fried, crispy, hollow Puri (made of refined flour) is filled with tangy, flavoured water of tamarind, green chilli, mint and coriander with stuffing of potatoes, chickpeas and onions . The moment you place this in your mouth, the heavenly flavours start bursting in your mouth tantalizing your taste buds, your eyes and nose might water little due to the sapidity but it’s lip-smacking and you can just go on. You can say Pani-puri is the mother of all Chaats.
This will turn out into a book if I have to describe the remaining Chaats. So let me just sum by telling you the main essence of any Chaat is the sweet, spicy and tangy flavours due to the common ingredients like chaat masala, green chilly, mint and coriander chutney, tamarind and dates chutney and crispy puris. No wedding buffet is complete without a Chaat counter these days. I feel ‘Best done than said’, so just go, grab and enjoy the zing and zippiness of this divine fare.
The famous Bombay Pav Bhaji is loved all over India and abroad too. The origin of this dish dates back to 1850s, when Mumbai was majorly a textile mills island. So since the workers were plenty and very limited lunch time for them, one canteen staff came up with this idea once when proper lunch got over, and workers yet to be fed, he mixed all the leftover cooked vegetables /bhaji /sabzi, spiced it up with onion, tomato and chilli powder etc and served it with Pav (soft bread or bun). And who thought that this dish would become a historic hit for ages. A medley of spiced mashed vegetables topped with dollops of butter, garnished with chopped onion and coriander, and served with buttered Pav, is served on hand carts as well big restaurants.Variations in this are also available like khada pav bhaji (here the veggies are not mashed), Cheese Pav Bhaji, Black Pav Bhaji (flavoured with pepper), Green Pav Bhaji (added green vegetables), Jain Pav bhaji and so on.This is another preferred live counter for kids birthday parties, weddings and other functions.This delicacy is mostly listed as Bombay Pav bhaji on menu outside Maharashtra, definitely a pride of Mumbai.
This South Indian speciality is most loved in Mumbai. Available again everywhere from big hotels to roadside. But the best I feel and have tasted are the street side Dosas. They are more light on stomach, and the variety you get with a roadside Dosa wala is enormous.Dosa is crispy thin pancake or crepes like stuff, made from rice and urad dal (split black gram lentils) batter after fermenting it. It can be served plain or with various fillings, the famous being masala (potato bhaji filling), mysore dosa (red chutney) etc., to Chinese dosa as well but accompaniments of Sambhar loaded with vegetables and Coconut chutney is a must, sometimes you will get variety in chutneys too, such a onion-tomato chutney, spicy gun powder (dry pulses chutney).Another form or variation in this is the Rawa dosa, I prefer this than the regular Dosa, here instead of Urad Dal, fine Sooji (Semolina) is added with rice batter, this when cooked looks like a fine net.Dosas are also loved on buffet for kids birthday parties, weddings etc.Apart from the above, two other items you will come across very often on roadside in Mumbai are Frankies and Sandwiches. These are also 24 x 7 delectable full meal, loved by many. So in short, Mumbai never lets you go hungry, the above savouries will be available full time somewhere or the other.
Nischala lives in Mumbai and loves to write on Travel , Fashion and Lifestyle.She has a wide experience in aviation and hospitality sector.