Okay, I won’t waste time with any introduction paragraph here. This is the second and concluding part of Savoring the Street Food of Mumbai post. I hope you enjoy it this as well.
It is hard to find an Indian who does not love chaat and bhel puri. This Indian savory snack item has its roots in Gujarat and in Mumbai it is closely associated with beaches like Chowpatty. In late 70s and 80s the phrase,”Chowpatty jayenge aur bhel puri khayenge” was quite popular with family and couples. The phrase means “we will go to Chowpatty and enjoy some bhel puri”. I remember as a kid, I used to go with my family and this bhel puri vendor would come up to us and we would order bhel puris for all. I would enjoy this chaat watching the ocean and play in the beach sand. I still see kids do that, so I feel time hasn’t quite changed much. Bhel puri is made from puffed rice, vegetables and tangy tamarind sauce that adds to the flavor. There is basically no preparation method for this so you just have to mix all the ingredients one by one.
So, first goes in puffed rice, then goes boiled potatoes, chopped onions, chopped tomatoes and mix it well. Now, add some tangy tamarind and chilli chutneys to it, mix it well again. Now add yellow sev (sev is fried and crispy noodle-like item made from besan flour), garnish it by sprinkling some chopped coriander over it and peanuts, that’s it.
There are many variations to making bhel puri, so many people add different items to decorate it based on their preferences. Some people also prefer Dry Bhel, so they exclude adding sweet and spicy chutneys to it to make bhel puri crunchier.
Are you health conscious, but can’t keep away from street food? Well, just watch out for the sandwich stalls in your locality and you can have some wholesome bite of vegetables packed within layers of bread. Mumbai is also popular for its sandwich stalls that are available on every corner of the street. These sandwich stalls offer you wide variety of sandwiches like normal vegetable sandwich that has a filling of cucumbers, onions, potatoes, beetroot and tomatoes stuffed between sandwich breads. A layer of butter and green chilli chutney is applied to the bread to bring some spicy flavor to the sandwich. Apart from the regular, you can have grilled sandwiches, cheese chilli toast sandwiches and even double-layered club sandwiches to make you feel full without compromising your health. You can enjoy your sandwich with extra dash of green chilli chutney or tomato ketchup as you please.
The first time I heard the word Frankie, I was just ten years old. Although, back then frankie was more like sit-and-eat concept and not eat-on-the-go thing. I remember Tibbs had their own store few buildings close to my school and I would pass by with my mother watching people eating this roll-like food item that was partially covered with paper from below. Today, frankie has become this common vegetable or chicken wrap that you can get any different stalls around the city.
Frankie is basically a wrap that contains egg, vegetables or meat depending on what you choose as your filling. The price of the frankie generally depends on the filling you have asked for.
Khaman & Dhokla
These two food items have their roots in Gujarat and they are still immensely popular in Gujarat, but equally popular in Mumbai as well. Both the items are made from fermented batter of rice and chickpea splits. It also has lot of spices added to it, so it has its own texture and flavor, so it does not taste like boiled chickpeas at all. It is not spicy at all, so those who cannot handle too much of spice factor can enjoy this one. I will certainly recommend my international readers to try this one for a start if they haven’t tried any Indian dish so far. It is a good way to start with Indian dishes and then gradually you can choose food items that have more spice ratio. Dhokla and Khaman are served with deep fried chillies and coriander-chilly chutney which brings more flavor to it. Oh, I forgot to mention that the procedure for making both these items are same, but Dhokla is made with rice and chickpea batter (4:1 ratio), while Khaman is made from chickpea batter only, so that’s the basic difference.
Indian summers are unforgiving and cruel. Mumbai usually experiences hot and humid climate at least most part of the year, so Mumbai residents love to enjoy some cool drinks that go well after some hot and spicy fast food. Falooda is among the popular fast food drinks that you can enjoy after some spicy snacks. This cool drink is not just popular across India, but also across the Indian sub-continent and the Middle East. In fact, it is the best way to beat the heat. A glass of falooda contains cold milk, thin vermicelli noodles, rose syrup, basil seeds and top it a dollop of ice cream. When you head to any falooda stall or shop in your area you can try other variations as well. Normally, falooda vendors use different syrup flavors to bring more variety to their menu. So, if you don’t want to try a regular falooda which has a rose syrup, you can try Kesar Falooda (saffron flavored), Mango Falooda, Chocolate Falooda and so on. You can try falooda on the streets or even in some local restaurants.
Kulfi is the Indian counterpart of ice creams, so if you love ice creams, you are going to fall madly in love with kulfis too. Kulfis are popular throughout the Indian sub-continent, but they are also widely popular in Australia, Europe, East Asia and the United States. Kulfi is very much like an ice cream, but kulfi is creamier and denser in texture compared to ice cream. The process of kulfi making does not include whipping, so it is more solid, dense and rich compared to traditional ice creams. Since it is dense, kulfis take long time to melt compared with a regular ice cream. There are many kulfiwallas (kulfi vendors) around the city so when you find one you can catch hold of him and buy your favorite flavor kulfi.
Kulfi is available on a stick, in an earthen pot which is called Matka Kulfi and it is also served in a plate with falooda and syrups and basil seeds. You can pick from different flavors like Malai Kulfi (Milk Cream Kulfi), Guava Kulfi, Mango Kulfi, Rose Kulfi, Kesar Kulfi (Saffron Kulfi), Pista Kulfi (Pistachio Kulfi), Badam Kulfi (Almond Kulfi), Chocolate Kulfi, Elaichi Kulfi (Cardamom Kulfi) and the possibilities are endless here. Some vendors also allow you to mix up all the flavors, so you get few pieces of all flavors you demand in one single plate and obviously you pay for only one plate of kulfi which is around Rs. 20 bucks which is like US 30 cents I believe.
Lassi and Chaas
This street food item hails from Punjab and has become popular across the city of Mumbai. Lassi is a simple blend of yogurt and water and sometimes spices and fruits as well. While lassi is quite popular on the streets, it is very healthy and nutritious. It is available in sweet or salty flavor, so if you are not much into sugar-based drinks, you can opt for the salted one. There are variations to lassi so some vendors also add fruit flavors to it and to me it sounds very much like those fro-yo concepts that are now popular in the West like Pinkberry, Red Mango and Menchie’s. On the other hand, Chaas is almost like a salted lassi, but it has more water content plus it has cumin seeds (jeera) and fresh coriander in it that aids digestion and also acts like a coolant dropping down the body temperature naturally without any side effects or body harm.
Well, that brings us to the end of this food ride. Probably, you must be hungry or thirsty by now, so I should end it here. While all these food items are fast food items, but they are easy to make at home as well and many Indians who are health conscious do that. I hope you enjoyed this food-filled journey with me and will try some of these items when you are in Mumbai.