I have already mentioned about some of the top street food destinations in Mumbai in my earlier blog post, but this time I am changing the topic slightly. Mumbai is not just about South Mumbai which remains the core part of the city, or about the suburbs where majority of the residents live these days. It is about the entire city that come together and make this city so uniquely beautiful. While I may not be completely happy with the kind of population growth that has made this city over-crowded, bringing people from all parts of the country. However, I also believe that the city would not have been what it is if these changes wouldn’t have happened. In my previous blog about street food, I mentioned some roadside stalls where you can find some great fast food or street food. This time, I am only focusing on the most popular street foods that you can find across the city, I mean literally any corner of the city. No matter wherever you are in Mumbai, all you need to do is walk down your neighborhood and you will find these food items right there. I dedicate this post to all the foodies who don’t care for comfort or restaurant decor, but who care about taste, freshness and are desperately hungry. Let’s get started with it.
If you are in Mumbai you have to try this out. This native Maharashtrian fast food certainly tops the list when it comes to most popular street food in Mumbai. Basically, it is a potato fritter that is placed in a bread or a bun. I would like to call it as an Indian Burger, which offers lot of nutrients even while you are on the go. The fritter consists of finely chopped green chillies, ginger, mustard seeds, turmeric and salt added to boil potatoes. The patties are then dipped in the batter of gram flour and deep fried. When the fritters are done, they are placed between a bread and tamarind and garlic chutney is applied to the bread to add more spice. There are some stalls across Mumbai that add cheese and Schezwan sauce to it as well to make it taste different offering some variety to the consumers. Vada pav cost around Rs. 10 to Rs. 15, so it beats McDonald’s hand down for price factor and even for spicy taste factor.
While samosa has its origins in North India in the state of Uttar Pradesh, it has become one of the popular street food items all over India and so in Mumbai. It is triangular in shape and has a filling of mashed boiled potatoes, onion, green peas, spices and chili. The mixture is then packed with thin layer of maida flour (refined wheat flour) and deep fried. In northern parts of India, the size of samosa is bigger compared to other states across India. Samosa is generally served hot with green chili chutney, chopped onions, and even tamarind chutney to give that sweet spicy flavor combination. You will find a samosa at the nearby stall for Rs. 10 or so.
Usually, you will find vada pav, samosa and pakoda at the same food stall because all three items are fried items and street stall vendors would love to offer some variety to their consumers. Pakoda or pakora is another appetizing snack item that you will find on the streets of Mumbai, no matter wherever you are. There are different variations in pakodas, so you can pick the ones you like. You can choose potato pakoda, onion pakoda, cauliflower pakoda, spinach pakoda and even a green chili pakoda, if you can handle that amount of heat. In Mumbai, locals call it bajji and you can relish it with or without bread, the choice is yours. These fritters are dipped in gram flour or chickpea flour and deep fried. I will also tell you that the best time to enjoy pakoda is when its raining outside and you are either stuck near a roadside stall where you get these hot pakodas piping hot and you enjoy it with some hot tea alongside. You can also enjoy these at home while its pouring outside so you can sit by your home window, enjoying the cool breeze and pitter patter of the rain drops and eating hot pakoda with some tea. I think that’s how Indians make their hectic monsoon days into memorable ones. A pakoda plate that consists of 7-8 pakodas like in the picture above will cost around Rs. 15.
This Udupi (a town in South India) invention has surely become one of the popular street foods that you will find across Mumbai. You will come across millions of roadside dosa stalls across the city where locals love to relish this food. In simple words, dosa is pancake made from rice batter and black lentils and is a part of staple diet across all southern states in India. You will also find dosas being served in Sri Lanka, Malaysia and Singapore.
Although it is a street food, it is rich in carbohydrates, no sugar or saturated fats and gluten free. So, a masala dosa is generally a pancake that has a stuffing of potatoes, fried onions and spices. Some of the restaurants here in India serve more than 100 different variations of dosa, so there is no end to the imagination and creativity that chefs introduce while they make dosas. Masala Dosa is generally served with coconut chutney and sambhar (vegetable stew based on a broth made with tamarind and other spices). Masala Dosa is priced at around Rs. 20 and above, depending on which variation you order.
Want a quick bite? Well, find a pani puri stall around and it will offer you the right satisfaction. Pani puri is not just popular in Mumbai, but across India and you can’t keep any Indian away from this one for sure. This dish has multiple names when you travel across India and the taste varies as well, but the basic ingredients remain same. In North India, pani puri is called Gol-Gappa (gol means round and it is named so after the round hollow puris), in eastern India it is more popularly known as Phuchka (the word phuchka is derived from literal sound of puri bursting in the mouth), while other parts of India usually know this as pani puri.
So, the vendor gives you this small plate or leaf-made or paper-made or a regular bowl, takes one puri at a time, punches a big hole in the hollow puri with his thumb then starts to fill the puri with boiled chickpeas, boiled smashed potatoes then adds tamarind water in it followed by spicy water which is made from coriander leaves, mint leaves and black salt and green chili. The vendor puts that filled puri in your bowl and you pick it up and place it in your mouth and bite it. The moment you bite it, the puri will burst with all those spices and flavors instantly flooding all your taste buds and senses to give you gastronomical treat that you wanted. Pani puri rates in Mumbai are around Rs. 12 to Rs. 15 where you are served 6 puris. There are some popular stalls that charge more because they use mineral water for preparation, but I believe majority Indians don’t really go for that. The true fun of enjoying pani puri is right on the roadside rather than sitting in a restaurant relishing it.
Well, this is not the end…I will be coming up with Savoring the Street Food of Mumbai – Part 2 for all food lovers who want to dig deeper into the streets of Mumbai and want to have a bite of cuisines and food items that truly make Mumbai special, globally.