|Bohri Mohalla Finely Chopped Walk, 2014|
It's ironical that the month of Ramzan, which is about fasting, is also associated with feasting.
People across religions and social classes in Mumbai look at this as the time to feast on Mughlai and Muslim dishes. The most iconic hub to go to break your Ramzan fast and indulge on meaty delights is the Minara Masjid lane below J J Flyover. This place is packed at night with people streaming in to eat at the many kebab stalls which spring up to join the much recommended Chinese and Grill eatery.
With the centre point of Mumbai spreading over the years to the suburbs people have begun to frequent the food stalls which come up near Mahim and Bandra Darga, at Kurla and near Andheri Stations. There is a festive feel to all of these places and the food revelry goes on till late in the night. The quality of food can be a bit inconsistent though and reflect the itinerant nature of the stalls here.
This is also the time of the year when people make a beeline to Muslim run eateries in the city such as Jaffer Bhai, Sarvi, Noor Mohammadi and Persian Darbar in South Mumbai and Lucky and Rajasthan in the suburbs.
Then there is Bohri Mohalla which I discovered a few years back through my friend, Parsi caterer and archaeologist, Dr Kurush Dalal.
I realised after our first visit that this is the place to go if you are serious about food. While Minara Masjid works if you want to soak in the atmosphere.
Bohri Mahalla in Bhendi Bazar is a quiet area which is home to the Bohri community. You don't get too much of Bohri food on the streets though apart from the desserts. The main food shops are run by folks from other Muslim communities who have been coexisting with the peace loving Bohris here.
In the lanes of Bohri Mohalla you have eateries dishing out the nicest kebabs that you could get in town, offal dishes such as bheja (goat's brains) , kaleeja (liver) and gurda (kidneys) cooked on an ancient flat griddle seasoned by the flavours of countless dishes cooked there. You get martabak and Moghlai porotha like Burma baida rotis and then chicken rolls which claim to have their origins in Karachi in Pakistan. You have people dishing out UP origined pulaos and khichda, which is Mumbai's answer to Hyderabad's haleem. You had some of the last practitioners of the art of bara handi cooking where meats, pulses and grains were slow cooked together in 12 vessels (bara handi) for around 6 hours. This method had come to Mumbai from Iran via Gujarat. Now alas Vallibhai is just a memory but then don't fret, Surti Bara Handi, that claims to be the original, is operating out of a new premise and the food is magical.
Then there is a 126 year old ice cream shop which makes hand churned ice creams through a process that has remained unchanged for more than a century. The ice creams are the freshest, creamiest, fruitiest that you could think of. Then you can have the egg based flying saucer like deep fried malpuas which are desserts made specially in Ramzan and then chilled firnis to cool you down for the trip home. And hot jalebis and malai khajas if your sweet tooth is still not satiated.
Bohri Mohalla doesn't have the pomp and liveliness of Minara Masjid but this is where you should head to for great food. Be warned, it's getting crowded now with mass media and bloggers writing about the place.
Also the thing about Bohri Mohalla is that this walk comes with a sell by date. The process of redevelopment has started. Vallibhai, the legendary bara handi place, has shut down. You don't know how long the rest are going to be around. So it makes sense to go there to eat as soon as one can.
As I wrote in this post, if we want out favourite heritage places to continue then we need to give them all the support that we can and cherish them while they are around.
What we will try recreate in the walk is the feel of an outing among a small group of friends. We will stop at iconic places such as India Hotel, Haji Tikka, Surti Taj ice cream and Tawakkals. We will also walk around the Mohalla and make some unscheduled food stops. Figure out what the hot jalebis at Noor's are all about for example or see if Salman has his pulao this year. We will check out the khichda and head to Noor in search of hot jalebis. We will make new friends. Exchange food stories from Mumbai and across the world. We will head home, well fed, blessed by the world of food in this holy month.
So I do hope you will join me at the Bohri Mohalla walk next Saturday.
Here are the details.
Date: 11th July, 2015, Saturday
Timing: 8.30 pm to 10.30 pm
Start Point: Bohri Mohalla, Bhendi Bazar annexe
Things to get: Camera, reasonably smart phone, hand sanitizer, wearing denim helps as serviettes are far and few, an umbrella, a big appetite. Dress conservatively.
Words that will help: Baadhe = beef/ buff, chhote = mutton
Planned food stops: 4 to 5
Inclusions: A sampling menu of dishes that I am fond of here. We will space out the food to make sure that you bat till the end of the innings. The ‘walk’ will cover essentially 2,3 lanes packed with eateries and food stalls. But then it’s a food walk
Cost: Rs 2500 (Rupees two thousand five hundred) per head
Write in at firstname.lastname@example.org or tweet me at @finelychopped or write to me at the Finely Chopped Facebook page if you want to join.
Bohri Mohalla is waiting for you.
Here's what happened in the last Bohri Mohalla Walk
This is what happened in the earlier Bohri Mohalla Ramzan Walks:
Or take a look at some of the blog posts on Finely Chopped on Bohri Mohalla:
At Bohri Mohalla with the author of ‘Eat My Globe’ and judge of ‘Iron Chef’, blogger turned author and TV personality, Simon Majumdar
Other Mumbai Ramzan posts: