Updated 2/12: For months before my trip to India I was dreaming of my favorite places to eat and what I would eat. For the most part the dream was better than the reality. Except for my pani puri at Karachi Sweets!! Still the absolute best!
I have been going to Karachi Sweets for years, following my favorite pani puri wala from location to location to location! Without a doubt Karachi Sweets has the BEST pani puri in Mumbai. The puris are light and crisp, the water is spicy, tangy chilled mineral water, the filling is yummy, and the masala is just delicious. The pani puri wala even wears disposable gloves. The whole place is very clean with a few small tables.
Half the fun is eating the pani puri! First the panu puri wala hands you a small bowl and puts a little of the pani in so you can taste a little. Then he pokes the puri with his thumb, scoops the filling in, then dunks it in the pot of pani and puts it in your bowl. You have to quickly stuff it in your mouth because he has your next one ready. After you've just about had enough you drink the pani from the bowl. Then comes my favorite ones....instead of dunking the puri in the pani, the pani puri wala sprinkles the filled puri with his secret masala. Oh, I really love those! You usually finish up with one, but my friend, the pani puri wala, knows the dry ones are my favorites and always gives me a few.
Karachi Sweets has plenty of other snacks/chaat to choose from as well: dahi puri, sev puri, pav bhaji, and of course, sweets!
Open 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. (Pani puri available in the later afternoon)
You can snack well for 50 cents!
Favorite Dish: Pani puri, pani puri, pani puri!
Bade Miyan is a indian street barbecue, opens at 4 pm in the Tullock Rd. Serving tasty chicken tikka roll, boti kebab etc. Started up as a small street vendor and is now very popular.
It was interesting so see how they make the kebabs and the rotis.
Favorite Dish: Fresh grilled kebabs of lamb or chicken.
Bade miyan is easy to locate if you are a non-vegetarian, tired and hungry. When you take the corner from the Colaba Causeway, you can smell the aroma from the tandoor, its close to another old restaurant the Baghdadi.
It will be busy and tables are on the street, so dont waste time waiting for your turn, stick with a table and you will land in it with persistance. Since you are here for non-veg you better stick with it, this isn't a place for vegetarians.
This place is quite legendary. I wonder how BMC allows a roadside restaurant to function in the highly busy and commercial Colaba area. There is a rumour that a past municipal commissioner was a gr8 fan of this place and gave it legal sanction.
Favorite Dish: I ordered mutton kebabs, chicken roll, which is quite filling. The tangdi kabab also deserves another helping.
Earlier Juhu had a clutch of beach side stalls doting the shoreline with absolutely no space to laze around, but thankfully the BMC has cleared them up and has alloted a few stalls to come up near the beach, cos Mumbai or for that matter India will be left without any spice without the road-side eateries, they make the picture complete.
Favorite Dish: Pav bhaji, ice gola, pani puri, kulfi... if these dont sound mouth-watering to you, then you can check out the next tip or stay in your hotel!!!!
Green Chilli Ice Cream
I love ice cream. A friend of mine told me that there is a place opposite the Chowpatty Sea Face in Mumbai India that serves “green chilli” ice cream. I didn’t believe him. I have savored myriad flavours of ice cream but “green chilli ice cream” seemed a bit far fetched. The very concept of green chilli ice cream whetted my curiosity so much that at sunset I was standing in front of Bachelorr’s (that’s the spelling on the menu card) Ice Cream and Juice Stall, my appetite fully stimulated by a long brisk walk.
The ice cream looks a creamy pink (not chilli green as I had expected it to be). I close my eyes and smell the ice cream – a nice sweet milky fragrance, a bit fruity; certainly no trace of the piquant penetrating sting of chillies. With a tremor of trepidation I spoon a bit of the green chilli ice cream on my tongue.
My taste buds are smothered by a sweet mellifluous sensation as the cold creamy ice cream starts melting on my tongue. I am disappointed, feel conned – it seems it was just hype. This is run of the mill stuff. Or is it? Wait a moment. As the ice cream melts away I suddenly feel a sharp piercing fiery taste that sizzles my tongue, stings through my nose and penetrates my brain. My tongue is on fire and, like instant firefighting, I instinctively spoon a blob of ice cream onto my tongue. The cool ice cream quenches my burning tongue with its almost ambrosial taste but the moment it melts away I am zipped like a rocket with the sharp punch of the green chillies.
So that was the art of eating green chilli ice cream. Hot and cold. Scorch and quench. Sting and soothe. Contrasting sensations. Like alternating current. Sharp tangy kicks burning through the cool syrupy sweetness till your system is fully perked up. And a trace of the biting tangy flavour of the green chilli remains within me for a long long time as I walk away.
Favorite Dish: You don't get this zesty tangy ice cream anywhere else. Green chilli ice cream doesn’t satiate – it excites, stimulates, gives you a “kick”, zests you up. It’s a truly passionate delight.
It’s been a long time since I’ve relished a bowl of “green chilli ice cream” but the zestful taste still lingers on my tongue. Never before had I enjoyed eating ice cream so much. It was indeed a unique and passionate eating experience.
One of India's favorite snack. The word "Pani" means water and "Puri" is puffed Indian bread. It is surely an experience eating Pani Puri. This popular Indian snack is also called Gol Gappa.
The Puri is a 1 1/2 inch puffed round Puri which is fried and filled with potato and/or green lentils and tamarind chutney and the Pani Puri (mint) water.
Favorite Dish: RECIPE:
1 large packet bought golgappas or puris
1 cup cooked chana (chick peas) or cooked white dry peas
2 tbsp oil
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp chili powder
1/4 tsp turmeric powder
1/4 tsp garam masala powder
For jeera pani (cumin water) or sweet tamarind water:
1 large lemon size tamarind
6-8 tbsp sugar
2 tsp roasted jeera (cumin) powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp chili powder
1 tsp garam masala powder
1/4 tsp rock salt
A bunch of mint leaves
Heat oil in a pan and add the drained chana or peas with all the ingredients for filling.
Fry till a nice aroma appears. Remove into a vessel and allow it to cool.
Soak tamarind in 6 cups of boiled and cooled water.
Add all the other ingredients including the washed bunch of mint.
Let everything soak together for an hour. Squeeze well and strain through a seive..
Serve the jeera pani well chilled.
To serve the pani-puris:
Make a hole on top of each puri. Fill each puri with a teaspoon of the filling.
Dip the puri into the jeera pani and serve immediately or it will become soggy.
The jeera pani can also be served in a separate container.
I was recently in Mumbai and asked my driver to take me to Sri Krishna food stall near Dadar station. Fresh vadas are brought to the counter (fro the kitchen) every few minutes and disappear equally fast. There is a crowd of vada fans so you have to push your way through and get yours before they disappear. Of course the food here is dirt cheap but you will not be able to eat this kind of food in a fancy restaurant.
For those of you who are not familiar with batata vadas: "Batata" means potato in Mumbai (the word is of Portugese origin --- the Portugese were the first Europeans to trade with and then colonize India's Malabar -- Eastern -- coast). A spicy mixture of crushed (or sometimes mashed) boiled potatoes, green peas, bits of green chili, coriander and turmeric powder, cumin powder, cayenne pepper powder) is coated with chick-pea batter and fried. The resulting ball shaped vadas are delicious eaten with green chutney. Sometimes the vadas as served in "Pau" (another word of Portugese origin) ---bread roll (like a vegetarian version of hamburger).
Favorite Dish: Great Batata Vadas --- definitely the best I've had!
Some of the street stall food in India looks absolutely fantastic. . .but, it is always wise to consider the ingredients, the traffic (ie. turnover of goods) and your constitution that day.
I actually passed on the samosas these gentlement were preparing, due to the look of the fat they would be deep-fried in. . .but I had a bite to eat at a small stall on the street that the causeway runs off of. . .
Use your judgment and the knowledge you have of your own constitution.
For the best Bhurji (Scrambled eggs cooked in the local style, with plenty of spices and garnishings) head towards the suburb of Juhu and ask for Cooper Hospital.
The Stand is run by one Khursheed, it is only a night-time affair and is a popular destination for late night revelers and servicemen alike. Similar to Bade Miyan in Colaba the food is served on your car.
Favorite Dish: The Bhurji Pao available here is famous all over bombay. The Bhurji is spicy and served hot. The eggs are creamy and melt in your mouth. The pao is given a twice over on the same tawa (frying plate) used for the bhurji and hence soaks up all of the juices while getting slightly toasted. Infact there are rumours that some movie directors who frequent the stall have created characters in the local bollywood movies which are based on Khursheed (the Proprietor).
Pao Bhaji another local favorite is also available and a good change from the staple. But if your going here for the first time you must, just absolutely must try the Bhurji Pao.
CANDIES (take-out snack bar)
Tucked away in a small corner on the posh Pali Hill area in Bandra, this take-out joint caters to the Western taste buds along with the indian flavour. Happy hours after 8 pm (25-50% off on the fooditems)
Favorite Dish: CHICKEN TIKKA ROTI - succulent pieces of spicy chicken garnished with onions, lettuce and dash of lime in a soft indian pita roll
MANI DOSA STALL My favorite dosa (indian pancake) stall. It is a roadside stall, selling the best kind of DOSAs along with the 'chutney'. Very reasonably priced (~3 USD for 6 dosas and 3 Colas - sufficient for 3 people)
Favorite Dish: Try the mysore rava masla dosa
Bade Miyan is open only from 9pm - 4pm. This is one of bombay's most famous street vendors and you'll see what i mean once you get there.
The entire street that houses his cart is overtaken by his clients. There are people sitting on tables lining one side of the street, while others have to improvise and make do with their car hoods. It's actually quite funky.. since most car hoods slant downwards they insert the narrow end of an empty coke bottle into the locking mechanism groove and rest the hood on the broad end flattening the hood and making a perfect table with newspaper and all.
Many people argue that today's bade miyan is over-priced for a street vendor which i agree with, and the quality has dropped substantially over the past 20 years or so, this i cannot attest to since i've only been eating there for the past 10 years. The food is decent and he's open late night.. who really cares when it's 4 in the morning, and your all liquored up, all you want is a semi-pleasent taste and ample grease.
Favorite Dish: The food is mainly Tandoori (grilled in the traditional indian clay oven) supplemented with an excellent and eclectic choice of Naan's, Paratha's and Stuffed Rolls.
The Boti Kabab's are tender, juicy and spicy, the chicken tikka roll is soft pieces of chicken in a classic tandoori marination cooked on skewers in a tandoor and wrapped in a roomali roti.
Head towards lovely Juhu Beach, and you'll be met by beautiful sunsets, joggers and every kind of fast food imaginable.
There are over 150 food stalls lining the central portion of the beach serving everything from Gola to Pav Bhaji. A truly Gastronomic Experience.
Favorite Dish: I always go for the Gola and inevitably end up eating something or the other.
This is a local haunt. Hence only for the DARING. If you believe your palette is up to it, this is where you should be eating. Trust me you will relish the food.
The hand carts on the road.Kukkus Chinese at Borivli Station.Golden Door at Bandra Link Road
Favorite Dish: From the carts nothing Like Pav Bhaji , Bhel Puri , Pani Puri.
KuKus joint is crammped but the food is good for the chinese lovers
and the Golden Door is really a good place but the bill is on the higher side.