The Bandra Food Legends Finely Chopped Walk… Feat Candies, Snack Shack, Khane Khas & a group that walked and rocked
Some folks have asked me about how to enter the walks, who can enter the walks and so on…this is how it works. I announce it on the blog. This post is an example. I post about it on twitter and on the Finely Chopped Facebook page. Those interested in joining write in. Then we meet. And walk. That’s it
It was Saturday evening and I was feeling quite relaxed as the warm up for the Legends of Bandra Finely Chopped Walk was going on.
This walk was different. It was the third walk. More importantly this was at home. In Bandra. And we were starting off in Candies. My ‘spot’. I suddenly realised why people make a big deal about home conditions in cricket. This was like India playing at the Eden, with Dada as the captain and at the crease. (By the way this is just a metaphor and have no ‘Dada illusions, thought best to clarify)
Yes, it was good to be ‘home’. Yes, after over sixteen years that’s what Bandra has become to me. Or was it on the first day itself?
Yes, as Anil said during the warm up, I can’t think of living anywhere else.
Warming up at Candies
I have always maintained that a big part of the Finely Chopped Walks are the participants themselves. What one has tried to replicate in the Finely Chopped Walks is the experience of an outing with friends.Hence the warm up in the best traditions of a focus group in the beginning where folks get to know each other and then connect as the walk progresses.
Sample a bit of what we started with this time. Eavesdrop in. Close your eyes and listen to Vipul talk about his trips across India cheering for the Indian cricket team, meeting fellow Indians across different stadiums and spending the 5 days of test matches discovering the food of the host city while Dhoni and his boys plotted our victories. Listen to Shubhranshu talk about the amazing food one can get in the railway stations in Rajasthan and about how it makes so much more sense to stay in railway stations than in hotels in towns on North India.
Hear Reshmy talk about how she wanted to make pancakes since when she was 5 years old and get infected by her passion for food and listen to her plans to organise a motorcycle food trip from Mumbai to South India. If you are lucky, as K & I were, get to try out the decadent buttery chocolate cinnamon babka that she baked for us…’chocolate bread which actually has chocolate in it’ as K said …and divine meringue chocolate chip and hazelnut cookies…this lady is a baking sorceress and you would do well to go to one of her baking workshops.
Sit back and listen to Anvita talk about her love for the food in Delhi and her search for good North Indian food in Mumbai, a city she had earlier spent 20 years in. Later in the evening look at the smile of bliss on her face as she has a second plate of black daal or maa ki daal as they call it. The defining moment of the walk for me.
Talking of other cities you can tune into Amrita and Geetha compare the food culture in Mumbai vs. Bangalore …we win by the way … and get to know how good the understated food scene in Chennai is. And then listen to Bandra boy and owner of another Bandra Legend The Bagel Shop, Anil Kably, talk about the various zones Bandra is divided into and the cultural and sports programmes that they participated in way before it became fashionable to ‘Celebrate Bandra’.
Smile fondly as you look at the mother and daughter combine talk about food. Smile as you hear Bhavna talk about how her daughter Malvika’s love for food has ‘pushed’ the boundaries of her cooking as Malvika smiles and says, “yes, she is a great cook”. High praise when your daughter is a curator of the best food from Mumbai on twitter herself.
Listen to Jyotika, who came to each of the first three walks giving us a huge dollop of encouragement, talk of the cook ups who would throw for the friends in the US. She is on the look out for folks for who could offer a kitchen closer to Mumbai than Thane for her to throw a pop up dinner.
Listen to Shormishtha talk about the travails of setting up not one, but two agencies, an advertising one and a digital one and of her discovery of, not sure if linked with her setting up agencies, small bars in Versova which serve excellent food. The prawns in Satyajit are her pick. See the look of glee on Suprio’s face as he explored each level of the Candies at McRonnels…the tiles, the mosaic, the many levels, the backlit stained glass…a slice of Gaudi’s Barcelona in a Bandra suburb which made this Director of Trade for Catalonia so happy.
Listen to Candice, after whom her father Allan named Candies, talk about the history of the this family of bakers that Bandra is so proud of and of the growth of Candies over the years. The design of Candies, which had everyone gaping with awe as they walked up the stairs at Candies, a labour of love by her dad, Allan Pereira.
Listen to these tales as you munch on the mutton and veg potato chops so typical of Catholic households of Bandra, the uniquely Goan spiced mutton and veg puffs, the sticky brownies that I so love, the lemon tea cake from the original inventory of the store …some of the classic favourites here and wash it down with some wild berry ice tea (K’s fav) and the cappuccino which we both love.
If the walk lasted for close to five hours instead of the planned three hours it was because we were all so comfortably nestled in Candies. I finally gently nudged folks to leave and after a stop at the Marry Me Store, in Candies a non food stop but if there are things to shop women will buy as the old jungle saying goes, we headed out.
Next stop Pali Market where you get to meet Mrs D’Sousa in the 44 year old Mark’s Cold Storage. You buy your meat of choice, ask her for a recipe and note down what she shares with a smile. Then a stop at the fifty year old Lalu’s where people dashed and bought some ‘exotic’ vegetables. Say hi to Jatin of Meghna Agro, my shop for meats and then head down to Pali Naka.
A taste of the Snack Shack Parsi love
Walk in with us to Snack Shack, a Bandra institution. An unheralded Parsi place with a huge band of loyalists. A small place with four or five tables and yet its beaming owner, Ashmick, welcomes us and makes us feel at home and comfortable. Watch the look of excitement and awe on the face of the walkers as they discover sali par eendu or fried eggs on potato straws. The only Parsi dish that K can make. Almost on cue, she walks in from her Carter Road walk to give in a goody bag and then thunders off in to the night while Ashmick serves us chicken cutlets with toothpicks exactly the way K does at home when she calls for these when guests come. Uncanny.
Since the walk was at home you would get occasional glimpses of K through the walk as she would drop in with the goody bags we had picked from another Bandra institution, the American Express Bakery from South Mumbai.
Next on at Snack Shack was sali boti…soft, juicy, boneless mutton in a vinegary tart meets sweet meet savoury spicy onion based curry. Ashmick explains that he doesn’t put apricots a la jardalu sali boti as he has figured out over the years that people don’t like food to be very sweet. Our walkers OD’d on the sali boti.
Well fed, ready to leave, Ashmick takes out some laganu custard (the Parsi wedding feast dessert of choice) to energise the walkers.
Join us and walk down the retro pub Toto’s and then the newer Hawaiian Shack and then hit the 16th Road.
If Pali Naka with its Thai Baan, Toto’s, Pot Pourri, Sahibaan and Tiffin was one food hot spots in Bandra even fifteen years back then so was, and still is, 16th Road. The very famous Mini Punjab and then Pal’s Fish Corner which I realised that it belongs to a Punjabi and not a Bengali ‘Pal’. Then there are new entrants with the chic Bengali cafe Bong Bong and the purveyor of great Bangalorean tiffins, South Side Cafe.
Our destination here is Khane Khas.
Feeling at home in Khane Khas
We were welcomed in to Khane Khas by Atul and Hardeep, two of the most loved people in Bandra.
Once again with the big hearted owners and the familiar wait staff, we felt as at home in Khane Khas as we did earlier in Candies and Snack Shack. Plastic tables and chairs, a tandoor and grill in an open kitchen from a time before 5 stars made them fashionable, steady stream of people walking in, this was an honest dhaba experience in the middle of Bandra.
Join the walkers and taste some hot nurturing roomali and tandoori rotis. Have a bite of tandoori chicken which is so incredibly full of taste, zest and life. And of course the famous ma ki daal that Anvita made even more famous with her million watt smile of joy.
Wash it all down with some fresh lassi or aampanna. Perhaps a swig of the mini bottle of whiskey that Anil nipped into Janta and got, ever the hospitable Bandra’ite.
Atul looked at me and said “I know you are going to Punjab Sweets but do you mind if we serve you some home styled rabdi?”
“No we don’t” said Shubhranshu as we dipped into this delightful dessert.
Head back with us down Ambedkar Road past Yellow Tree Cafe and then Brownie point and Sweet Bengal, Bandra’s Sweet Street with Le 15 Patisserie next door and head to our last stop, Punjab Sweets, Folks were stuffed and could barely nibble on the kalakhand and gajar ka halwa there, purchased from a testy owner, impatient to shut his shop.
Nothing like an evening spent with some wonderful folks in a suburb one has grown to call home.
Finely Chopped Walks will be back with the Oshiwara Bengali walk preceded by an exclusive Fort Tasting Walk next Saturday for travel writers visiting us from Basel in Switzerland.
Read more about the earlier Finely Chopped Walks here:
2. The Fort Tasting Walk
Here are what some of the participants had to say about the walk:
Hunger Games: A write up by Amrita on Live Mint on the Walk
From facebook :
Shubhranshu Das: The Foodies Wok in Bandra - lovely start at Candies - with the original Candies herself - with the mix of Wokers in the group - it's a smorgasbord of foodies here. It was so nice to meet the group - a very, very talented group - so the conversation flowed and food consumed ... and then we ambled on and outward into Pali Market & Pali Naka .... Snack Shack ... small little joint but such good Parsi food ... with the owner providing his own insights .... will now pay attention to these smaller places that have been around for a long time ...
Anil Kably: Kalyan this walk is fun, social and so needed today. Connected & building new relationships! I enjoyed it.
@ReshmyKurian 31 Mar Pics from the gorgeous foodwalk by @Finelychopped. The most delicious, fun time ever. #finelychoppedwalk http://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.430711700338216.97488.177277169015005&type=1 …
Suprio Bose: Kalyan, great fun at the walk. Thanks for organising yet another fun evening and with such an interesting group of people
Aren’t these guys the best? Thanks so much for the encouragement folks. See you soon.