Mumbai Street Food, by Car

When I saw the airline ticket price for a one way from Mumbai to Chennai, my eyes popped out! Rs. 27000. Thats almost twice the price of a return ticket to Dubai! Or I could stay in a 5 star hotel and take a flight the next day and I would still pay much lesser. But I had to be here for the following day and I had to take a flight. Then I saw a flight at 3 am. Quite unearthly.

And that is when my friend came to the rescue. You can easily while away time in Mumbai till 2 am boss. Thats normal hours for us, he said. I'll take you on the best Mumbai culinary street food fest from South to North Mumbai! And that is how I booked the 3 am flight, finished my work in Mumbai at about 7 pm and waited till 8 for him to pick me up from Colaba. And by the time he dropped me at the airport, it was 130 am. This is what happened!

Stop Zero: 730 pm. While I was waiting for my friend, I stepped into Olympia Tea house in Colaba, eagerly waiting to try their Kheema Pav, only to be told that it is served only for breakfast! Sad faced, I walked out and walked the streets of Colaba while my friend waded through Mumbai traffic.

First stop: 8 pm. Bademiya.

Located in a quiet street off Colaba, this place was nothing more than 2 stalls, but with a huge line of cars waiting to be served food. An empty warehouse serves as a make shift sit down place for those who don't want to eat within the four doors of their cars. I had a chicken tikka rolled in romali roti. Soft and juicy. And a little spicy too. Loved it. Going by the hordes of people there, looks like it is loved by loads of people.

Next Stop: 930 pm. Chowpatty

Located on the Marine Drive, this is like a full time festival, boss, he said. On a weekday, to see people sitting on the mats on the beach sand and enjoying pani puri and pav bhaji was a feast. I wanted to try the pani puri. There are two things that stood out from the pani puri in Chennai. 

1. The puri did not leak.
2. The filling had more than just potatoes. There was corn among other things and was a lot more flavourful.

But beyond pani puri, we ended up eating ragi pattice and also gulping down one ice gola. Kala Katti. Slurp Slurp!

Next Stop: 1030 Vada Pav - Doc, this is not the time for vada pav. I'll take you next time, he said, much to my disappointment, but yup, I didn't get to eat vada pav that night.

Actual Next Stop - 1030 pm, Cafe Gulshan.

While this may not be as good as Olympia for keema pav, this is quite good, he said. I don't know how good Olympia would have been, but the kheema here was fantastic. And bun maska. Well, folks in Chennai have always dipped biscuits and bun in tea, but the concept of adding butter, slightly toasting the bun and dipping in tea was, well, delicious. All this while reading newspaper articles about this place being covered in the media! And a request (more of an order) to customers, not to use the limited space for conducting meetings, but to eat and get out! 

Next Stop - 1130 pm, Part 1 King's Circle Pav Bhaji.

As he drove to King's Circle, my eyes popped out more than it did on seeing the 27k flight ticket. Close to midnight, what was this crowd doing on the road? I was searching for the 'food shop.' My friend was laughing. There is the shop, he pointed out. Till we parked the car and walked to the 'shop,' I couldn't see it. The shop was just as big as 'Rangoli' pani puri. One vendor, one tava, one table with the pav, butter and the likes and he was turning around pav bhaji like it was a factory. Easily the best pav bhaji I've tasted, ever. We had a lasooni pav bhaji and a masala pav and inspite of my stomach crying, my tongue kept asking for more. As you can see in the picture, when we ordered our pav bhaji, the tava was empty and I thought he was going to wind up for the night, but as we took our dish, another guy emptied a big bowl of bhaji onto the tava! Eyes popped out again! 

1130 pm, Part 2 - Kings Circle Juice Shop.

Right next to the street is a Juice shop that apparently serves great juices and Bombay sandwiches. I resisted the temptation for a sandwich and asked for a pineapple juice, something that my friend thought was outrageous.

'Dude, are you crazy?'


'Let me do the ordering, you do the eating,' he said.

When the juice came, it was refreshing, cool and fantastic. It was a paan masala juice and it felt like eating paan. After a heavy foodie outing, I am glad I allowed him to order the juice as it cooled down my stomach. 

130 am 

As we reached the airport, he offered to roll me into the check in counter. For some reason, I was upgraded to business class and they woke me every 30 mins to ask if I wanted something to eat! Sigh.