– By Garima Jayaswal
Mumbai food is just like their people are, unique and diverse in every manner. Thousands of people come to Mumbai almost every day from all corners of the country with nothing but dreams and hopes to make it big in the city. This city embraces each and everyone with warmth and accepts each one with its history, tradition and culture, which very seamlessly blends in with the existing culture and in time becomes a part of it. This is what makes the city so beautiful; this is why the city is a cosmopolitan in its truest sense. The history of food in Mumbai is closely linked to the growth of this city from fishing village to the grand mega polis it is today. As wave after wave of immigrants from all over the country came with dreams of gold in their eyes, they brought their culinary treasures with them. The result? A smorgasbord of cooking styles and street food that reflects the cosmopolitanism as much as the carbohydrate-fuelled work ethic.
Here goes a list of Foods that define Mumbai’s food culture, with Muslim, Gujarati, Goon, Coastal, South Indian, Paris and of course local Maharashtrian influences, with a hint of the global taka here and there.
1) Batata Vada – Whether it’s for breakfast, tea-time, or anytime, one thing is for sure, Mumbaikars can’t live without the Batata Vada bite. This well-liked fast food dumpling is made by mashing boiled potatoes with green chilies, ginger, garlic, lime juice, turmeric, and fresh coriander, then dipped in a besan (gram flour) batter and deep-fried. It’s served either with green chutney or fried green chillies.
2) Pav Bhaji – This specialty dish from the by-lanes of Mumbai has mashed steamed mixed vegetables (mainly potatoes, peas, tomatoes, onions and green pepper) cooked in spices and loads of butter. It is eaten with pav, which is shallow fried in even more butter and served with chopped onions. Sometimes cheese and paneer (cottage cheese) are added. People from all over India come to Mumbai to eat pav bhaji.
3) Missal Pav – Quintessentially from Pune, this rustic dish is made from a mix of curried sprouted lentils, topped with batata (potato) bhaji, poha (rice flakes), chivda, farsan, raw chopped onions and tomato. This hot and spicy dish is eaten with pav bread. To cut the fire, add some yogurt.
4) Frankie – Inspired by the Lebanese pita bread wrap and suitably Indianized, the Frankie, or should I say the Tibbs Frankie, has satiated hordes of the hungry in search of a quick lip-smacking snack. Basically, it’s a juicy naan bread with an egg coating and stuffed with mutton or chicken, rolled up and sprinkled with a unique masala that gives it its special flavour. The vegetarian option does not use eggs and the stuffing’s include paneer or potatoes.
5) Bhel Puri – The most commonly sold chaat on the streets of Mumbai, every bhel walla will have his own matchless blend and a considerable 7pm fan following. While the ingredients remain the same, it is the proportions in which they are thrown together on the street side that makes the difference.
6) Brun Maska – You may wonder how bread and butter can become such an iconic union. Its brun or gutli pao — a local bread that is unique to Mumbai — and it’s crisp and hard and crumbly on the outside and soft inside. The Brun is then sliced and lashings of butter are applied lavishly. It is usually accompanied by the sweet Irani chai. Dipping the brun maska in the chai is the only way to eat it.
7) The Bombay Sandwich – This street side invention is a combination of the most unlikely ingredients. Lavishly buttered white bread and sandwiched between them thin slices of beetroot, boiled potatoes, cucumbers, tomatoes, onion rings, and mint chutney. Cut into four triangles so that you can handle all the layers without spilling them, you get the most refreshing tangy taste, after each bite.
8) Ragda Pattice – This twin delight is a combination of ragda, soft spicy rugged flavored chickpeas, and pattice, mashed potatoes shaped into fat patties and fried. The ideal way is to eat it is to crush the ragda with the pattice and pile on the accompaniments — finely chopped onions, tangy tamarind sauce and fiery green chutney. Mash it all up and dig in for the true flavour of Mumbai.
9) Kheema Pav – Minced mutton cooked with onions, garlic, tomatoes, chillies and spices takes on many avatars here. In its original form, it is referred to as plain Kheema. Topped with a crisply fried sunny side up egg, it is called kheema single fry. And scrambled with eggs, it is called glottal. And all three are best eaten with Mumbai’s signature pav bread bun. Traditionally a breakfast dish, it is now eaten at all times of the day or night.
10) Prawns Koliwada – Contrary to popular belief that this dish originated on the Konkan coast, it is actually a very Mumbai dish and the story goes that it was created in the Sion fishing village, or Koliwada. These deep-fried prawns marinated in a batter of flour, spices and ginger garlic paste can be identified by their signature red colour. And they are crunchy yet melt in the mouth. Pick the smaller sized prawns, they taste better.