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Information About Mumbai and the Street Foods of Mumbai

Rajan is a botany and chemistry major. He has worked as a poultry breeder for 23 years, breeding layer and broiler parents.

Information On Mumbai City

Mumbai formerly known as Bombay is the capital of the state of Maharashtra. It is the most populous city in India and the fourth most populous city in the world, with its current population being around 20.5 million, in the metropolitan area.

Mumbai is located along the west coast of India and has a deep natural harbour. It is the wealthiest city in India and home to many of the richest people in the world. However, there are some of the poorest people also vying for a place to survive in this most attractive of cities, the city of opportunities as it has been known for decades.

Mumbai initially comprised of seven islands that were home to the fishing community of Mumbai, the Koli community. It was during the mid 18th century that the area between these seven islands was reclaimed from the sea.

Major roads and railways were constructed by the mid 19th century. This transformed Bombay into a major seaport. During this period the city of Bombay experienced major economic and educational development as well.

Initially incorporated as a Bombay state, when India attained independence in 1947. In 1960 when the state of Maharashtra was created, Bombay was named its capital.

In 1996, Bombay was named Mumbai-the name being derived from the Goddess Mumbadevi, which is the Goddess of the Kolis, the native inhabitants of Mumbai.

Today, Mumbai is the commercial, economic, financial and entertainment capital of India. Because of the massive job and business opportunities that Mumbai offers and a higher standard of living that comes with increased incomes, the city attracts migrants from other cities and villages in hundreds every day who make their way to this city in search of a better economic future.

It is for these people, and in fact, many of these people start the business of making and serving Mumbai street foods. These foods being tasty and cheap offer a ready solution to most of these people in search of cheap and fast meals and it here that the street foods of Mumbai score over the others.

Street Foods Of Mumbai

Mumbai Street Foods

The food sold by hawkers from portable stalls or makeshift stalls is called street food. Street food is one of the earliest distinguishing characteristics of Mumbai city though today one can find street foods in each city of India. But there is no city that can match the street foods of Mumbai due to its cosmopolitan nature that has brought it's states' unique flavor and taste to these Mumbai street foods.

All classes of people flock to these roadside stalls to partake this food that is as easily available at lunch time to an executive as to the factory worker at midnight since these foods are available almost round the clock. It is for this reason Mumbai is called a city that never sleeps.

Most people and the writer himself believes that the authentic taste of Mumbai's street food cannot be duplicated anywhere else in the country or the world.

Vada Pav Recipe | Mumbai Street Food

The Variety Of Mumbai Street Foods

Following is a list of 10 very common and popular street foods of Mumbai. The list is not exhaustive but has foods that are available the year-round.

A brief description of these foods is accompanied by some pictures and a video to its right.

Hope you enjoy this culinary trip down Mumbai's streets.

Vada Pav

This is the most popular street food in Mumbai and the cheapest form of a meal that is consumed widely. This dish is native to the state of Maharashtra.

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Pav bhaji is a spicy vegetarian fare consisting of 2 batata vadas (fritters made of potatoes), that is sandwiched between a sliced pav.

Pav is a form of bread somewhat similar to a burger bun but not round in shape.

Vada Pav is typically served with a chutney made of tamarind as the main ingredient.

Variations of the basic vada pav like cheese vada pav (with cheese), Jain vada pav (without onions, garlic and potatoes for Jains), etc are also available.

Pani Puri Video

Pani Puri

Pani puri is also called Gol Gappe especially in North India but in Mumbai, it is called panipuri.

This is another popular street food in Mumbai. It consists of a round, hollow, fried crisp puri which is filled with spice flavoured water by breaking open the top of the hollow puri by tapping with a finger.

Tamarind chutney, a few pieces of boiled potatoes and chickpeas are also filled in the puri before filling it with the flavoured water.

The size of the puri is just right to fit the complete puri in one's mouth. It is eaten one at a time.

It is also served one at a time so that the crispness of the puri is maintained by keeping it filled with water for as little time as possible.

Bhel Puri Recipe | Mumbai Street Food

Bhel Puri

Another very popular snack street food is bhelpuri and is sometimes called chaat in North India.

It is a mixture of ingredients like puffed rice, potatoes, mango pieces cut small and fine, sev (thin noodles type fried stuff made from chickpea flour), onions, green chillies, chaat masala, tamarind chutney and coriander and mint chutney.

The entire mixture has a salty, sweet, spicy and tart taste and flavour. But the contents are crisp and crunchy.

Diced tomatoes and small green raw mango pieces are also added to it.

Sev Puri

How-to Make Sev Puri By Arina Video

Sev Puri

Another form of Indian snack or street food that is a speciality of Mumbai.

Most of the ingredients are the same as outlined above.

Puris form the base on which ingredients like potato pieces, chutneys, sev, chopped cilantro, onions garlic and raw mango pieces are spread and sprinkled.

When raw mango is unavailable or sometimes even otherwise, lemon juice is squeezed on top of the sev puris once they are ready and before being served to the customer.

Dahi Puri

Dahi Sev Puri Video

Dahi Puri

Another favourite street food for a lot of people. It consists of the hollow panipuri shells being filled not with spice flavoured water but with mashed potatoes and chickpeas after breaking open the top of the puris.

Salt, chilli chutney, tamarind chutney, green chutney is then added. This is then topped with yoghurt and then it is garnished with sev and chopped cilantro.

Dahi puri is served by placing about 5-6 dahi puris in a plate as opposed to panipuris which are served one at a time.

Ragda Pattice Video

Ragda Pattice

Another popular Mumbai street food! Vendors selling bhelpuri, panipuri, dahi puri also sell this fast-food snack.

There are two separate parts to this dish. One is Ragda which is a dried yellow pea soup and pattice which is a fried potato cutlet.

The peas are soaked overnight, then boiled and the water discarded. Once cooked along with salt and turmeric, they are mashed and fried with onions to make Ragda.

While serving this dried ragda, some water is added to the ragda to make it into a thick liquid like consistency and then fried potato cutlet is added to it.

Then this is topped with sliced onions, chopped cilantro and spicy and sweet chutneys. A dash of yoghurt is sometimes added if the customer asks for it.

Normally, two potato pattice are served in a plate of Ragda.

Pav Bhaji

Pav Bhaji, yet again, is a native dish of the state of Maharashtra, though it has become popular throughout the country especially in the Western and Central and Northern states of India.

Pav bhaji literally means bread and vegetables. but the bread here is the desi or Indian type of bread. The vegetable is a potato-based, thick gravy style one.

The vegetable is garnished with chopped onions, coriander leaves, lemon juice and the pav is lightly toasted in butter, on both sides.

The vegetable has cauliflower, carrots, tomatoes, green peas, green bell peppers, garlic and spices mashed and blended well together to make a thick gravy type of a vegetable.

It is a very simple dish that has become a staple food on the menu of most Indian restaurants in India and Indian restaurants abroad in countries like Singapore, Hong Kong, U.K., U.S.A., etc.

Variations of the original pav bhaji like cheese pav bhaji, paneer pav bhaji, mushroom pav bhaji, dry fruit pav bhaji and many more are available today.

Soft And Spongy Idli Recipe Video

Idli

Though idli is a staple breakfast food of South India, it has become a popular street food of Mumbai thanks to the many "Udupis" (Udupi is a town in South India) migrating to Mumbai and bringing with them their expertise of South Indian cuisine. One can thus find idlis being served as one of the popular street foods in Mumbai.

Idli, a round dish preparation, about 2 to 3 inches in diameter, is made of fermented and steamed unsweetened cake type of a batter of rice and dehusked black lentils. The fermentation process makes the idlis very soft and easily digestible.

Idlis can be eaten as an anytime snack and are either served with coconut chutney and some other chutneys or with sambhar as well, which is a vegetable stew.

The fermentation of the idli mixture is allowed to carry on overnight and the volume of the batter expands to about two and half times its original size. This is essential for the idlis to be really soft and spongy.

This batter is placed in moulds as can be seen in the picture alongside. The idlis are prepared without any oil or ghee whatsoever, steamed cooked as they are and are therefore very healthy and light on the stomach.

The sambhar is a vegetable stew made up of vegetables like eggplant, tomatoes, potatoes, pumpkin, carrot, okra, onions and pigeon peas etc. Salt and spices are also added. A commercially available spice mix called sambhar masala is available and it is a mixture of roasted coriander seeds, chillies, lentils and other spices. Tamarind is also added to this stew.

The coconut chutney is the main chutney that accompanies idlis. Other chutneys like mint chutney, cilantro chutney, onion chutney can also accompany the idli sambhar.

Idlis can also be eaten on their own with only the coconut chutney or the other chutneys.

The coconut chutney ingredients are fresh coconut, dry red chillies, shallots and ginger. The chutney may also contain tamarind, curry leaves, garlic and roasted coriander seeds.

Dosa

Dosa is a fermented, thin and papery, crusty crepe-like preparation that is made from rice batter and dehusked black lentils.

Though this dish is again a staple breakfast food of South India it has become one of Mumbai's favourite and popular street foods.

The batter for the dosa that is the rice and dehusked lentils are soaked in water and when soft is ground fine to form a thin batter. A ratio of 2 to 3 parts of rice to 1 part of lentils is the norm.

Next, the batter is allowed to ferment overnight. Some fenugreek seeds or methi are also added to the batter.

Variations to the basic dosa like rava dosa, made with semolina flour instead of rice flour and maida dosa, made with refined wheat flour used to replace rice flour and the like are also available.

To prepare the dosa, a thin layer of batter is spread on a flat griddle which has been lightly greased with oil or ghee. The batter is spread out thin with a ladle to form a crepe-like form but a much larger one in size. The disa is served folded in half or rolled like a wrap.

If the dosa wrap contains stuffing usually of veggies with potatoes, it is called a masala dosa while the wrap without any filling is called a sada (plain) dosa.

Other variations of dosa include moong dal dosa, chilli dosa, onion dosa, tomato dosa, uttapam, etc.

Vegetable Sandwich

Vegetable Sandwich

These are the most common type of sandwiches served as street food in Mumbai.

It is a purely vegetarian dish that uses butter applied to bread slices and a vegetable filling of tomato and cucumber slices in between the white bread.

Potato and beetroot slices are also added to this sandwich filling. Onions are sometimes added. Cheese is added if the customer specifically asks for it.

There are variations to this sandwich-like, Omelette sandwich, Russian sandwich, Szechuan vegetarian sandwich, etc but the above type of sandwich is the commonest and most popular since it is the cheapest.

Some Final Words

The Mumbai street foods are available in streets and by-lanes, at roadside kiosks and beachside stalls etc all over the city.

They have become a hallmark of Mumbai so much so that restaurants and even 5-star hotels today serve this street fare. Indian restaurants in many parts of the world also have these street foods as part of their menu.

If you happen to visit Mumbai do make it a point to try out the Mumbai street foods. You will also find vendors on the Mumbai beaches especially Juhu beach and Chowpatty beach serve these mouth-watering delicacies which you can enjoy while enjoying the sights and sounds of the seawater and the surroundings that are resplendent with merriment, joy and laughter.

Some Excellent Spots For Mumbai Street Foods

Though the best street foods are available at the Juhu beach and Chowpatty beach stalls, there are certain food outlets that I am listing here for visitors to Mumbai that also serve excellent quality of these street foods.

1. Vada Pav at :

  • Shivaji Vada Pav, Mumbai snacks, Akbar house, Shop noo 2, Rajwadkar street, Colaba.
  • Anand, opp Mithibai College, Gulmohar Road, Vile-Parle (west), Mumbai.
  • Ashok Satam's Stall, on the Flora Fountain side of the Central Telegraph Office (CTO), Fort., Mumbai.

2 .Pani Puri at :

  • Elco Pani puri centre, @/A, Elco market, 46, Hill Road, Bandra(west), Mumbai.
  • Punjab sweet house, Dheeraj Arcade, opposite Jude Wine shop, Pali Naka, Bandra(west), Mumbai.

3. Bhel Puri at :

  • Sharmajee's and Badshah's at Chowpatty beach, near Charni Road station.

4. Pav Bhaji at :

  • Sardar's, 166-A, Tardeo Road junction, Tulsiwadi, Near Tardeo bus stop, Mumbai.
  • Cannon, Next to Capitol cinema, opposite CST ot Victoria Terminus railway station, Mumbai
  • Amar juice centre, Shop 3, opposite Cooper Hospital, Gulmohar Road No 1, Vile-parle(west), Mumbai.

5. Vegetarian Sandwich at :

  • Anil sandwich wala, outside the gates of J.B.Petit High School for Girls, Maharishi Dadhichi Marg, Fort, Mumbai.

6. Idlis at :

  • Madras Café, Anand Bhavan and Idli House, both located around King’s Circle, Matunga, Mumbai

7. Dosa at :

  • Rama Nayak’s Udipi Shree Krishna Boarding, bang outside the Matunga (E) station, Mumbai.

8. Ragda Pattice at :

  • Kailash Parbat, Sheela Mahal, 1st Pasta Lane, Colaba, Mumbai.