I moved into Bandra about a decade and a half back and have been addicted to it since.
The warmth of its people, the relaxed sense of susegaad (to use the Goan word) at one end & freshness of thinking and spirit of entrepreneurship at the other, the sense of freedom which lets people be, the sea, the pot pourri of cultures and communities, the big smiles from its shop keepers, its quaint by-lanes and cottages and bungalows and of course the great food around…these are some of the million things that have made me fall in love with Bandra.
There were a number of places one ate at when I was new in Bandra, some have stood the test of time, others are history, new legends have been created.
Pot Pouri is now Lemon Grass, the Mexican place now Gloria Jean’s, Tiffin has had a facelift and serves Lebanese too, Sahibaan has become more kitsch, Pali Presidency is now Costa, Thai Baan is still there, the Daewoo showroom gone but it has been replaced by many new restaurants instead. The old bakeries…American Express, Hearsch & A1 holding strong in the age of artisanal pumpkin & raagi breads. Boat Club came and went, Toto’s still has its regulars and is still the place to be in if you are not the ones who go to the Shack, Janta has become the suburban Gokul. Kobe’s doesn’t sizzle as loudly. Stomach has grown, JATC has become EATC. Out of the Blue & Olive which brought in the Western fine dining touch to Bandra are going strong as are Salt Water Cafe & Basilico that followed, Shatranj Napoli is now a distant Bollywood memory. China Gate has been joined by the every popular, buy by the Kilo, 5 Spice & the Bengali Bhadrolok owned Mainland China though many still swear by the spare ribs of Jimme’s. Lucky, Saybaa & Tawa still remain road landmarks from a time before Google Maps. There is a Bengali element to Bandra now. Chowringhee Square, the pioneers have shut down, but slowly and steadily have been followed by Sweet Bengal, Hangla, Arsalan & Bong Bong which have established a strong Bengali presence here.
New Bandra legends have been created if you can call Bagel Shop and Gostana ‘new’. More legends coming up…Imbiss, South Side Cafe, Golconda Bowl and the Bagelwallah. The august lady of South Mumbai, Indigo, has walked in graciously with the Indigo Deli and Busaba with the young & pretty Busago. Crepe Station is gone, Suzette has come in and there is Mocha Mojo with its pancakes and waffles.
Yes, there’s loads happening in Bandra and what I have spoken about is just a fraction of it centred around Pali Naka, Turner Road & Carter Road but then a blog, as I always say, is a collection of personal notes and not a directory.
The Bandra food scene has seen many changes but there are some folks that old timers and new entrants swear by. They are the food legends of Bandra after all.
Punjab Sweets which Gulati paaji set up three and a half decades back when he decided to get out of college and build on the family catering business. The result…chaats which many swear by, kalakhand and gajar ke halwa which are unabashedly full fat, full cream and full of love. The samosas and freshly fried jalebis which I just love. I would often cross the street and go and get 1 samosa & 50 g of jalebi to come back and have with my coffee at home when we lived in Pali Naka. The Gulatis have diversified their repertoire into khaakras & pastries but the one extension I am really fond of is their restaurant Laskara and the amazing kulchas there.
About a quarter of a century back the Pereira's decided to start a small shop at the end of Pali Hill where some of the marvels from Mrs Perrier”s kitchen…the mince chops, chicken mayo sandwiches, roast chickens would be sold. Since then Candies has grown and grown and the tiny shop at Pali Hill was joined by the Candies at Reclamation & then the Gaudi inspired Candies at Mc Ronnels at Pali Naka. You can’t sit on the fence when it comes to Candies. Many throw their hands up in frustration trying to be heard there so they can place their order at Candies. The rest of us consider it our home away from home. My Candies love started with the Candies at Reclamation and when they opened next door in Pali Naka it became the only eatery to have its own label in the blog.
Talking of ‘home away from home’ there is Khane Khaas which is about to complete 24 years. Started by 4 partners from 2 hotel management schools. Today two of the original band remain…Atul & Hardeep who had coincidentally started their careers on the same day in the President (Taj Vivanta today) in 1989. Then one day they quit and started Khaane Khaas. A place I was first introduced to by Presidency classmate, Promita, through its black daal, tandoori chicken & rumalis. It was the place where I would call for a single serving of rice when we inaugurated our first kitchen with chicken cooked in RTC masalas on an electric stove. It’s the place I would call for food if my stomach was out of order or K would call from when she wants a tasty meal with no guilt or butter attached. It’s the place where Anchal from Chandigarh finds Punjabi food that reminds her of home. It’s the place of which Sue, like me and many others, talks of the of the melodious, chirpy and warm voice of welcome that says ‘Khaane Khaas’ to greet you when you call up to place an order.
Then there is ‘new kid on the block’, Snack Shack. Set up 16 years back by Ashmick who made up with his love for food and love to feed people what he missed through the lack of formal catering training. Relatively unsung in comparison to the Parsi legends of South Mumbai Britannia, Military Cafe, Yazdani & Kayani but a favourite amongst those who eat here, Their prawn patio, patrani machhi & sali boti were approved by my late Parsi grandmother in law, K approves of their chicken cutlets and I just love their home styled hearty dhansaak. Locals would also know Gregory, the slim & bearded manager here & the Maushi who makes Tibb’s Frankies outside the shop.
All legendary stuff.
The Food Legends of Bandra Tasting Walk
So here’s what we will do as we walk through Bandra. We will get a taste of its various flavours, check out its various food shops, get a sense of where some of the new entrants to Bandra are to be found, talk about Bandra stories.
On the way we will sample some snacks typical of a Goan household…some mince and potato chops if you would like. Some mayo and chicken sandwiches perhaps. With lessons added in on how to get your food amongst the mayhem of Bandra’s most popular hangout.
We then walk down the more than 50 years old Pali Market and figure out why I never bother to go to super markets or malls for my food shopping. From asparagus to pork belly, decaf coffee to Gruyere, strawberries to pine nuts just let your food imagination run wild and chances are that you will find what you want in Bandra’s Pali Market. Munna and his fresh water fish shop is long gone though but for that you can hop across to the Khar Fish Market.
Goan done, shopping done, we head for a bit of Parsi love. Cutlets, sali boti…a sampler because there is more to eat.
We walk past and do some more sight seeing and walk by 5 Spice, Totos, Poco Loco, Hawaiian Shack (a pub crawl anyone?), Pal’s Mini Punjab and then we sit down for some hearty fare from the land of the five rivers, as the cliché, goes for some tandoori marvels.
Walk a bit more and some more sight seeing… walk past Le 15 Patisserie, Yellow Tree, Sweet Bengal, Brownie Point … all to make space for some Punjabi desserts to bring in that Delhi’s Bangali Market flavour to end our night in Mumbai’s Bandra.
Date: 30th March 2013, Saturday
Timing: 7 pm to 10.30 pm
Start Point: Candies at Mc Ronells, Pali Naka. Tentative
Things to get: Camera, phone, hand sanitizer, a big appetite, shopping bags
Planned food stops: Around 4
Inclusions: Stops at some of my favourite restaurants and cafes. Places I have eaten at ever since I fist came to Bandra. Mix of cuisines and communities … Parsi, Goan Catholic snacks, Punjabi and North Indian. We will space out the food to make sure that you don’t miss out on any dish. Bottled water included. Not soft drinks. Eating will be at the participant’s risk. No responsibilities on the food. The ‘walk’ will cover the lanes around Bandra’s Pali Naka.
Cost: Rs 2000 per head (inclusive of food tastings)
See you next Saturday in my Bandra.
Links to earlier Finely Chopped Walks: