I am a foodie and a vegetarian. Sounds like a tough combination to pull off, but I have been managing to get lucky so far. I am more interested in the traditional foods than the foods that have become the norm these days. Everything about our original and traditional foods appeal to me – their cooking, their smell, their presentation and of course their taste.
In all my travels across India, I have been trying to explore such traditional food trails. So far, I have explored the traditional food circuits of Bangalore, Chennai, Jodhpur, Jaisalmer, Amritsar, Kolkata and Hyderabad. For some reason, I had kept missing Mumbai even though I knew of its immensely big, popular and proud food circuit. This was one trail that I definitely wanted to sample. Hence, I planned a short 2 day trip to Mumbai just to experience its traditional foods. The idea was to meet friends and enjoy simple, authentic, iconic and delicious Mumbai food.
There were many places that I could check out, but then I did not have the luxury of time. In my 2 days, I did a mixed bag of iconic places and off beat places within close range from each other. This logic helped me sample some very special Mumbai food while not wasting too much time traveling from place to place. And the credit for chalking out the plan goes to my close friend and cousin brother, both of whom are Mumbaikars.
Here is how my gastronomic journey went. From Thalipith to Misal Pav, Pav Bhaji to Bun Maska, Akkruti Roti to Vada Pav, Kala Khatta to Irani Chai, Apple Butter Tea to Sugarcane Juice, Gujarati Thali to Sabudana Vada and from Falooda to Chilli Ice Cream, I had it all. It was simply a epic treat for my palate and an absolute reward for all the running I had done preceding to this 2 day foodie journey. For your assistance, I have mentioned all the restaurant names or eating zones, the area in which they are located and a link to their zomato page where available. This will help you trace these foodie trails easily.
Let the treat begin…
Kanda Poha at Home
I got a taste of Mumbai even before I stepped out of home. It all started with some nice spicy Kanda Poha, a perfect breakfast snack to start off my Mumbai foodie trip.
Prakash Restaurant – Dadar
Prakash was possibly the best beginning I could have had to my gastronomical food journey. This iconic place has such delicious Maharashtrian food that it took me 3 hours and many kilometers of walking before I could even swallow a tiny morsel of food. The place is tiny and located in the heart of Dadar, but the food is totally delicious.
While I tried nearly everything on their menu, I absolutely loved their Misal, Bharli Wangi (Oh! This was deliciously out of the world), Thalipith, Kothimber Wadi (Deep Fried, but who cares!) and Sabudana Wada. Piyush and Solkadh were great to beat the Mumbai heat, but you need to acquire a taste for them, else you might not take a liking to it.
Shree Thaker Bhojanalay – Kalbadevi
Be warned! This is not the place you should go to if your appetite is less. The food here is fit for the truly hungry and the ones with a super appetite. Coz the food keeps coming here till you pass out because of eating or because of tiredness. But, it is definitely a grand Gujarati treat in Mumbai. Where do I start? The Dal Halwa or the Kheer, the Bajra Roti, Jowar Roti or Missi Roti, the Pakodas or the Cheese Roll or the Kadi, they were all out of the world. The vegetables were normal. Nothing special about them, but simple and good. The biriyani and kichdi is also good here. Again, go here only if you can manage 3 meals in one meal.
Bachelorr’s – Charni Road
This iconic juice and ice cream shop is a part of Mumbai’s iconic food circuit. The who’s who of Mumbai visit this roadside shop in the evenings and late nights to sample its delicious juices and ice creams. Their specialty here is the custard apple ice cream. Personally, I think their green chill ice cream is worth trying at least once. It is an unique combination of chilli flavor and an ice cream, a rare combination.
Chowpatty Khau Galli – Chowpatty
Opposite Bachelorr’s lies the Chowpatty Khau Galli that is extremely popular in the evening hours. Vada Pav, Pav Bhaji, Misal Pav, Bombay Sandwich, Bhel Puri, Juices and much more are the craze here. This is cheap street food and an ideal way to calm your pre-dinner hunger while soaking in the gentle sea breeze.
Cannon - Churchgate
Ideally, Mumbai’s best pav bhaji is made at Sardars, but since Sardars was a bit far away, I opted for Cannon’s Pav Bhaji, which is like the second best in the city. Located bang outside of the Churchgate station, this place is easy to find.
Their pav bhaji is nice, but I really liked their Alu Wadis served with spicy hot chutney.
Khala Khatta - Churchgate
This is possibly the most refreshing cold drink to have on a hot Mumbai afternoon. Located beside Cannon Pav Bhaji, this is a small shop that sells Kala Khatta and other popular cool drinks. One of my favorite drinks from Mumbai.
Sugarcane Thela Gaadi near Fashion Street
This is a non-descript thela gaadi located on fashion street and next to the large maidan entrance. The sugarcane juice for some reason was really top class here. I would really recommend this gaadi wala if you can locate him.
Khau Galli - Churchgate
Initially, we were supposed to do the Ghatkopar Khau Galli, but later zeroed in on the one at Churchgate. This is a street with eateries on both sides. Be it Bombay Sandwich, Frankie Rolls, Juices, Pav Bhaji and other popular street options. A definite must-do on the Mumbai street food trail.
Tea Centre - Churchgate
Apple Butter Tea. This is the specialty here and a truly refreshing experience. The tea and snacks are great here, but what is even better is the price. You can get great pot of teas in an air conditioned environment and in the middle of the city for about 150 rupees. Now, that is a great deal in my mind. This place was not on my radar initially, but we chanced upon this place as we needed a respite from Mumbai’s heat while we were exploring the Churchgate area.
Kyani and Co – Marine Lines
Great Parsi food and Mumbai go hand in hand. No Mumbai food trail is complete without tasting some of their iconic Parsi food. Running operations since 1904, Kyani and Co is an iconic Parsi food outlet that is located in the busy Marine Lines area of Mumbai.
While the food is not necessarily vegetarian here (In fact, they serve great meat dishes), they have some great vegetarian options that are worth trying. If you eat eggs like me, I would recommend the Parsi Akkruti on toast. In my 33 years, I have never head better eggs, butter and toast. The Bun Maska and Irani chai is one of the most favorite snacks on the menu here.
The Mava Cake and the Cherry cold Parsi custard were 2 desserts that I liked. Their menu is huge and would require at least 20 visits to sample all of them. They also make some great cookies and cakes that make for great takeaways.
Baadshah – Crawford Market
Like Prakash was a great start to my Mumbai food trip, the falooda at Baadshah was a fitting end. The Baadshahi Falooda with the Malai Kulfi was so good that I indulged (some of you can say sinned) in one more of this very high calorie dessert. And while we were eating the Falooda, the only sound that came from our mouth was Mmphhh! Mmphh!!
Really top class Falooda it was.
I know that I just scratched the surface with this short food trail of Mumbai, but my experience was so good and so rich that I am very excited about planning another one and this time hopefully for a longer time. Till then, 3 cheers to Mumbai’s traditional food trails!!