Unsung Mumbai Street Food for Cast Iron Stomach

Tender, juicy, soft and spicy. These are the words that come to mind when you take the first morsel of ‘bheja fry’ in your mouth, once you have digested the idea of deep-fried goat brain as delectable.


Above: A vendor fries baida roti after stuffing it
Bottom Left: A stall preparing grilled kebabs
Bottom Right: Goat brains kept to make bheja fry

This is one of Mumbai’s unsung street foods that draw meat-loving patrons from all parts of the city to the Muslim-dominated area of Muhammad Ali Road.

If you have a cast iron stomach and love for meat, the options for gastronomical adventures in this part of the city are copious.

There are few things that one needs to get used to before hitting these streets. The first is the idea of scrumptious meal by the locals. Usually discarded parts of meat such as brain, tongue and intestine are among the fast moving items at food stalls here.

The other thing that you need to accommodate is the standard of hygiene. As the food prepared using traditional methods of cooking, cooks use their hands at every stage – from marinating the meat to adding spices while cooking.

Kebabs (Tangdi Kebab, Seekh Kebab, Kaleji Kebab and Gurda Kebab)
When you visit these food stalls, the first thing that meets the eye are orange, brown and red color meat hanging on skewers right above the charcoal grill, emitting thick white smoke. These are marinated meat made of different body parts including liver (Kaleji), kidney (Gurda) and legs (Tangdi). Seekh Kebab is made of minced chevon. These are best enjoyed with a bread called ‘pav’ served with it.

Keema (minced chevon)
The meat is minced and prepared on a griddle with onions, tomatoes, peas, garlic, chilies and variety of spices. This preparation takes many forms at different vendor. Some might add egg to it.  The dish is so popular that it has found its way into menu of restaurants in five star hotels.

Baida Roti (eggroll)
In the simplest version, an omelet is placed on flatbread (roti) and rolled. The bread is then fried. But there are variations to suit every taste bud. You can have this stuffed with keema or chicken, or any other meat available.

Nihari Nalli
A spicy gravy dish, with generous amount of red chili pepper, is made from goat legs. It is supposed to be slowly cooked for about six to eight hours so that the meat around the leg bone comes of easily. These days, cooks use pressure cookers to get the desired result. The ‘nalli’ in the name signifies the bone marrow that is served in it. Some even add the tongue to the dish.

If you like it, don’t overeat. Nihari contains high amount of gelatin that makes one feel stuffed. Usually, this is served with ‘naan’, another version of Indian flatbread.

Chicken
Mumbai’s non-vegetarian street food is not just about chevon. A wide range of popular chicken dishes are also available in these stalls including chicken tikka, chicken leg, chicken breast, chicken rolls and chicken kebabs.

If you want to experiment more or scared of Delhi belly, there are several restaurants that serve all these items and more.

Bademiya
If you are in south of Mumbai, close to Gateway of India, just ask anyone for this place. This is a legendary food stall that starts in the evening and serves food until early morning. According to an article in Outlook Magazine,  Hillary Clinton wanted to sample Bade Miya’s kebabs on her India visit but her security overruled it.

The menu is as short as a visiting card comprising of mere 40 items categorized in four sections – Chicken, Regular, Special and Vegetarian. Other than its succulent kebabs, the food that made the eatery famous is baida roti. A hearty meal for two here will cost you less than $8

Britannia & Co.
No list of Mumbai’s best restaurants is complete without the mention of this place. Founded in 1923, the restaurant is popular among oldies as well as generation next. The most talked about item on its menu is the signature Berry Pulao, a rice dish with either chicken or chevon and tart barberries imported from Iran. According to Time magazine, this item is an improvised version of Iranian dish Zereshk Polow to suit Indian taste buds.

The list of food that you must try here is long. Do try sali boti (mutton in gravy) and dhansak (chicken or mutton in a lentil gravy), akuri (similar to scrambled egg but with an Indian twist) and patra ni machhi (steamed fish wrapped in banana leaf). None of the item exceeds $4.

You can walk to this restaurant from Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (erstwhile Victorial Terminus) railway station. Any shopkeeper will direct you to it. It is located at Wakefield House, 11 Sprott Road, 16 Ballard Estate, Ballard Estate, Fort.

Author: Tinesh Bhasin

Presently, a freelance writer, he has worked as a business journalist for over seven years

Comments

  1. ORGANIC says:

    Thanks for the useful info. I enjoyed the blog.

  2. From the list of items that you mentioned that is available in Britannia & Co., it looks like it is run by Parsees.
    Must make it a point to visit this place on my next visit to VT.
    Thanks for sharing.

  3. I am visiting Mumbai next month. Would like to try these street food
    Not sure if my tummy will take it or not, but I am planning to see these street food

  4. Mannish (Jigmet Enn says:

    Hi Tinesh, its Jigmet Mannish, seems like you have written about me on your blog. I am happy to know that you enjoyed in Leh. Keep smiling

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