Amchi Mumbai is a chaotic concoction of lights, sounds and lot of movement, and let us not forget the tastes. A city with so many identities is bound to cook up some surprises. Citizens of this megapolis swear by their street food favourites, crafted out of local influences mixed with flavours from across the country. The best way to visit the iconic joints of the city is to rent a car in Mumbai and explore.
One has to begin this scrumptious list with pav bhaji, the poster boy of Mumbai’s street food. It is a simple preparation and conveniently nourishing, a perfect foil for the busy Mumbaikar. Yet it packs a powerful flavour. The soft and fluffy bread is heated and slathered with butter and the bhaji is the curry made from veggies and quintessential Indian spices. Sardar’s is considered an institution of pav bhaji and this Tardeo based restaurant opens till 2 AM in the morning – typical Mumbai.
Vada Pav is a perfect snack for those who are on the move. Anthony Bourdain once termed this as the Bombay Burger. It is essentially potato base patties with spices and herbs mashed in a pav. You need to make sure your vada pav comes with the fried green chillies. There are many places vying for the best vada pav award – Ashok in Prabhadevi is a popular eatery for vada pav fans. Anand in Vile Parle West also boasts a decent vada pav.
The pav bread is a constant in Mumbai street food, whether the accompaniment is vegetarian or meaty. The kheema pav in Colaba’s Olympia is quite a delightful item. Ibrahim’s in Malad West and Cafe Military near the GPO are also good bets for a tasty kheema.
Pani Puri is arguably India’s most popular snack, a modular dish which proves the old adage – the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. You have the spicy mix, the hollowed bread and the savoury liquid and they all come together for what becomes an explosion of flavour in your mouth. There are hundreds of pani puri stalls in the city – Elco Market in Bandra West is home to some quality and hygienic food stalls.
It can get pretty hot and sticky in Mumbai so juice stalls are everywhere. Since the decade of India’s independence, Bachelor’s with the extra ‘s’ has been dishing out fine, fruity and milky liquid refreshments to thirsty patrons from all over. Try out the different chocolate milkshakes and of course the summer favourite – fresh lime. This Colaba institution is also a great place to sit down and soak in the buzz of the city.
Getting to Mumbai is really easy as the city boasts some of the best highways and expressways. A Pune to Mumbai taxi can cover the distance in three hours and the route includes crossing the breathtaking Western Ghats.
A truly authentic Mumbai experience is only possible if you step into the streets and witness it from the ground up. What better reason to do that than the street food.