A walk to remember…
A food walk through Bohri Mohalla, Mumbai. Disclaimer: Not for the faint hearted.
I must have been about eleven when I read my first article about the glorious edible gems that Mohammed Ali Road in Mumbai has to offer during the month of Ramzan. Eleven years later, I made my way there for the first time with my new-to-Mumbai foodie friend Ismail. I spent hours reading up and researching the best places to try out various Ramzan specialities — Nalli Nihari, Paya, Shammi Kebab and Malpua being prominent in my list. Ismail and I had a gala time — faces brimming with pure happiness by the time we got back home. That was last year.
This year around, the tables turned. My now-familiar-with-Mumbai foodie friend decided to take charge this year and introduce me to a previously unexplored and rather different locality — Bohri Mohalla. I blindly followed…
- Indian Hotel
With no sign board visible, you’d have to ask around for this restaurant. We were a little too hungry (what with Ismail fasting the entire day and me not having eaten anything since lunch), so we ordered away. We started with the baida roti and the chicken roll. You can chose the meat stuffing in your baida roti — mutton, beef or mix. We decided to be a little adventurous and try out the mix version. It was crispy on the outside and the meat was perfectly cooked. Same with the chicken roll.
What was surprisingly good was the naancha— a different kind of pao, stuffed with a mixture of offal and lentils, cooked till it was absolutely silken smooth. Combined with the crispy onions, this was definitely a winner for me.
Our last order here was the tawa bheja fry — goat brain cooked on a pan with several masalas. We opted for half a portion and ordered regular pao to go with it. The meat was fresh, with the right amount of masala that didn’t overpower its natural flavour. A squeeze of lime on this dish made the flavours beautifully pop in our mouths.
Cost: We paid a total of INR 252 for 4 dishes
2) Haji Kebab Bar-B-Q
Diagonally opposite Indian Hotel, we found this little stall selling a variety of kebabs, grilled on hot coals right in front of our eyes.
Ismail insisted we try the khiri kebab. Khiri is a Hindi word for udder. When our serving arrived, it looked like any normal meat kebab. So I shut my eyes and decided to be as adventurous as I could be — turned out, I was pleasantly surprised! In the form of a kebab, khiri had a wonderful texture, not too chewy, neither too soft, marinated beautifully and grilled to perfection.
Our next order was the boti kebab, made from a leg cut of the lamb. It was rather hard in texture and nothing special in taste.
Cost: We paid INR 88 for 2 plates of kebabs (INR 44 each)
3) Abdul Muttalib’s Stall
Right across the road, we spotted an elderly uncle serving a stewy mixture from a huge handi. Hot ladles of khichda were being doled out by Abdul Muttalib chacha into tiny aluminum cups.
Khichda is a rice, meat and lentil mixture, seasoned with spices and slow cooked. Garnished with fried onions, mint, ghee and a dash of lime juice, the piping hot khichda was a winner from the first bite. The fried onions and lime complimented the mild flavours perfectly, giving it the right amount of acidity and crunch. Stellar dish, this one!
Cost: We paid INR 40 for one bowl. I kid you not.
4) Salman’s Pulao Shop
Venturing into a perpendicular lane, we spotted this shop opposite Noor Sweets. Ismail claimed it had the best pulao in the area, so we decided to try out a plate. Of all the tiny restaurants we went to, this one was definitely the least female friendly, and I felt extremely awkward sitting there. Gluttony took over Ismail and he dived in; it was only half way through that we realised we hadn’t gotten a picture. Yes, the pulao was that good! It was fragrant, spiced perfectly, and had just the right amount of tender meat pieces in it. We literally licked the plate clean!
Cost: We paid INR 35 for a plate. So, so worth it!
5) Surti 12 Handi
In the same lane, we found Surti 12 Handi, one of the few places serving its namesake dish — bara handi.
Literally translating to 12 pots, the dish consists of a mixture of 12 meat preparations, using different cuts of the lamb, all mixed together in one plate. I counted 9 pots at the shop and I am sure we were served only 6. Unable to decipher all the cuts used (supposed to include rump, trotters and marrow), I was able to spot the nalli (or marrow) and called dibs on it. Coupled with the light naan that is famous in this area, I stuck to the nalli and gravy, leaving Ismail to try all the other cuts. While the gravy was slightly oily, we scooped it up with the tasty naan in minutes. As a scarcely available dish, I would say this one is worth a try.
Cost: We paid INR 200 for one plate of Bara Handi, and INR 10 for 1 Naan.
6) Taj Ice Cream Shop
An institution in itself, this is one of the landmarks we used to locate Bohri Mohalla. We ordered a cup of their hand-churned Litchi ice cream to share.
It was sweet and creamy, with a kulfi-like taste. Little pieces of Litchi gave it an added texture. Nice to try once, but I thought it was kind of similar to the widely available Naturals Ice Cream. For Ismail, the fact that it was hand-churned made all the difference.
Cost: We paid INR 60 for one cup.
7) Tavakkal Sweets
Our final destination, this sweet shop was right beside Indian Hotel and we had eyed it from the very beginning. We settled for one of the hot Malpuas, that were being fried in front of our eyes, and a Royal Mango Phirni.
A Malpua is a deep fried, sweet pancake, that was paired with some fresh malai (cream) at our server’s recommendation. It was crunchy and sweet, not too oily and when dipped in the malai, like a little piece of pure decadence.
The Royal Mango Phirni tasted like any other phirni, flavoured with an artificial mango essence. If you love phirni then try it, if not, I wouldn’t recommend wasting your calories on this one.
Cost: We paid INR 190 for 2 desserts.
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(Ismail would be glad to take you on a food walk in and around this area for a nominal fee. You can get in touch with him at @ismohd87).