Introducing Finely Chopped Food Walks 2.0. Mumbai the way you wish to see it. And India too.

If not Chef's Table, the Finely Chopped Table for sure. Getting to know each other at Candies before we set off on our Bandra Breakfast Finely Chopped Food Walk

"Squeeze some lime juice on to the kheema," said Mumbai born Mohsen Husseini at Bandra's Lucky Restaurant. A restaurant which was established in 1938 by his grandfather who had come to India from Iran. Our order at this 89 year old Irani restaurant in Bandra was kheema pav, anda bhurjee pav and the 'real' Irani chai. Black tea served with a cube of sugar, some mint leaves and a slice of lime. 

Kheema pav and anda bhurjee at Lucky, Bandra

It was Mohsen's father, also born in Mumbai, who had once explained to me that the milk based tea that we get in Irani cafes in Mumbai should in reality be called 'British' and not Irani chai. Tea is had black and sans milk in Iran he explained. It is the British who added milk to tea and who introduced the same to India.

We had lived in Iran for a year before the Islamic Revolution and even though I was very small then, I did remember the locals having their tea black in little shot glass sized cups.

The original Irani chai

Lucky was the last stop in the bespoke Bandra Breakfast Finely Chopped Food Walk that I had conducted this morning for a British restaurateur from London. He was born in Antigua he told me when we first met in the morning. 

"Viv Richards country," I exclaimed with a smile.

"Yes, though I must say that of the Antigua cricketers, I was most excited by Ridley Jacobs," he replied, smiling back at me.

Cricket connected us both. As did our love for food.

Sunny Days

Our earlier stop was at Lashkara, the Punjabi vegetarian restaurant at Pali Naka. My guest told me that he wanted to have a mango at least once before leaving Mumbai. When I asked him about what he had eaten earlier in the trip, when we met at our first stop at Candies, he did mention that he had eaten bhel puri and pani puri among other things.

Which is why I took him upstairs to Lashkara instead of having the chaat at the downstairs section of Punjab Sweets. I wanted him to try dishes that he had not tried before.

So samosa chhole it was to give him a flavour of the food that the Punjabi migrants had brought to Mumbai after they had moved in after the Partition. At Candies we had a taste of the food of the Goan Catholics through the mutton potato chop, the vegetarian pan rolls and the chicken mayonnaise sandwich and later at Lucky, the food of the Iranis. The idea was to show how the food of Mumbai is based on a melange of the flavours of the communities that make up the city.

To quell his mango cravings at Lashkara, I ordered the favourite of the Maharashtrians of the city, aamras puri.

Aamras puri and samosa chole at Lashkara at Punjab Sweets

"Scoop a bit of the cold mango pulp with the hot puri and put both together in your mouth. Enjoy the contrast of temperatures, textures and the play of savoury and tangy flavours. Be careful not to singe your fingers"

"Take a piece of the samosa on the spoon, add some of the chickpea curry, then a bit of the sweet tamarind chutney and the green chilli chutney, don't forget to add some of the raw onions. A chaat comes alive when you take in all the elements together. That's when the spices come together to make it finger-licking good or chaatna as we say."

The poster for the first food walk that I had done. Designed by my friend
Harshad Rajadhyaksha who had designed the cover of my book too

When I had started the Finely Chopped Food walks in 2012, my first professional foray in the world of food, the idea was to give people a glimpse into the city of Mumbai and its people through its food. To help people fall in love with the city, just as I had once.

I used to group walks then, once a month. Four years down the line, the model has changed and evolved a bit. I now do bespoke food walks and trails. These are by appointment and with people who get in touch with me and say that they want to go on a food walk. Before we meet, and if that does not happen, when we meet, I try to understand what the guest is looking for, what they have experienced before, and then focus on that. 

If the person has had bhel puri before and that was on the map, I change that and make it a samosa chhole  as I did in this case. The walks are more conversational than once can make it with a larger group of 6 to 8 people and I try to share what I have learnt about the city and its food. 

The heart of the model remains the same, the structure has changed a bit. 

I do not know how it will be four to five years later. I suspect that the heart will remain the same and it is the heart that is most important, as they say.

To know more about my Mumbai food picks, please look at my book, The Travelling Belly.

If you would like to go an a food walk with me, then please mail me at and I would love to take you on one.

I am proud to say that the Finely Chopped Food Walks have been featured by Fiona Caulfield in her much acclaimed and well regarded Love Mumbai book from her Love Travel Guides series. This is an extract from what she had to say about them:

'When I met Kalyan in 2013, I knew I had discovered someone very special, here is a genuine foodie, a man who not only loves eating, but one who loves cooking, talking about food and writing about food. He is also incredibly generously sharing his discoveries and passions.

Kalyan is particularly brilliant at navigating his home neighbourhood of Bandra and can do this at any time of the day. My next date with him will be a Finely Chopped Breakfast walk where Kalyan has promised to explore Irani Muslim, Parsi Irani, Catholic Goan, East Indian and Punjabi breakfast fare.

He also does some splendid focused area walks such as the one I did in Dadar and does seasonal walks such as exploring the Bohri Mohalla area during Ramazan.' Fiona Caulfield, Love Mumbai

Sample of the customised Finely Chopped Food Walks that I have done in the last couple of years:

Sahapedia Heritage Walks Week: Fort Irani
Mumbai restaurant immersion trails (two rounds) for the owners of the Bombay Street Food Restaurant
Sodexo CXO Food Walks for corporate client engagement: Kormangala (Bengaluru), Fort (lunch, dinner)
Soda Bottle Opener Wala: Mumbai Irani Food Trails (Grant Road, Bandra West, Dadar)
Attache Travels on YouTube: Bandra East, Delhi (CP, Old Delhi, Paharganj)

Private :
Fort Biryani food walk (for a journalist and a chef from London)
Bandra Breakfast Trail for a Hollywood lawyer looking to study the local cuture
Khar fish market shopping experience followed by a cookout at home for a couple from Australia
Fort evening chai trail for the owners of a boutique hotel in South Africa