It was my first ever visit to the all famous Mohammad Ali Road of Mumbai and that too during the month of Ramadan or Eid-Ul-Fitr. After a week long dilly dallying i shrugged my inertia and took on my heart and love for food to the gastronomic lane of Mumbai. I do not know any nook and corner of the road but i just wanted to confirm all the wonderful stories i had heard about the sea of specialty cuisine (almost all Ramadan special street food) this street offers.
So take your seat, put your tea or coffee besides you and walk with me through the lane which is every food connoisseur’s dream.
It was 5 in the evening and i stepped out of my taxi. I could just see loads of vehicles and people walking in one direction. I followed them. I could see some lights and glitters here and there and i knew my destination is not too far. I asked an enthusiastic cap seller the address and he replied – “Oh (with a big toothy smile) madam just take a right after a 5 mins walk and you are there!” I walked hastily and all a sudden paused, as a stroke of air enriched with the aroma of Kababs, lamb, chicken and Phirni (a rice and milk sweet) struck me.
People who follow Islam as a religion have the holy month of Ramadan (this year in July) where they fast the entire day and break their fast at around 7.15 in the evening (India time). The prayers begin and they break the fast by drinking water and eating something sweet (my Muslim friend said they often eat dates). Before the prayer time, the eateries are ready to be sold in the lane.
The first thing that i saw before entering the lane is the beautifully carved Minara Majid (Mosque). It stood there prepared with lights, ready to glow and shine when the feast begins!
As i pushed myself in the street i could not ignore this colorful small packets of Falooda (a motley of vermicelli, psyllium, or basil (sabza/takmaria) seeds and tapioca pearls). Falooda is mixed with chilled milk and topped with rose syrup and ice cream. If you are having blues, eat a spoonful and you will forget all your sorrows! And yes i did buy a few to indulge once i am back home.
Now we move to the stalls which hold the specialty meals (WARNING: your mouth is going to water. So please BEWARE :D)
This is shawarma. Which is nothing but luscious layers of thinly cut chicken slices, stacked on a pole which keeps rotating. You can see the fire behind, that keeps the stack warm. It is then served as a roll. First the layer of Khaboos (sort of bread), then vegetables, some spicy mayo and lay the spicy juicy chicken pieces which when wrapped together present a morsel of utopia.
Don’t forget to dig into a plate of Seekh kababs. The smoke that rises when they are fanned on a tandoor (a cooking stove with coal) can make you lust for more.
In between you will spot vendors busy selling caps, scarves and other festive knick knacks.
You cannot escape the abundance of desserts which are an inevitable part of the Ramadan feast or dinner. From caramel drenched Malpua, to colored Samolina halwa to rasgulla and kesar phirni. It’s like swimming into a sea of flavor and saccharine! Here is a peek of the sweets i relished 🙂
Burrp! So now my stomach resists me to eat anymore but i complete a 45 mins stretch full of a variety of food. I can see another long stretch but it is already 6.30 pm and the street has started to buzz with increasing crowd; the prayer time is imminent. The dawn has fallen but the people on street have increased reminiscing of celebration galore.
I am on my way back and swaying hands to catch a taxi. I take a last look at the Minara Masjid and its gleaming all together more.
The prayers are said and you would see groups of shopkeepers, passerby sitting in circles and relishing their food after a day long fasting. And don’t be surprised if they cheerfully invite you to join them and relish a bite or two 🙂