As a foodie, every year I look forward to Ramadan. Closer to where I live in Mumbai, there is a huge Muslim community so the streets and by-lanes turn into an Iftari food fest with the aromas of fried malpuas, mawa jalebis, fresh fruits and dates, chicken shawarmas, satay, mutton cutlets and what not.
Four years after my last visit to Mohammad Ali road to explore the food scene in the Minara Masjid area, I was back for a part II. But this time I was here to do the Bohri Mohalla food trail in Bhendi Bazaar.
I learnt from the mistakes of my past and turned up empty stomach to make room to eat all the best possible food here. I also made sure that this time I try food from multiple shops instead of eating everything in one place. It is impossible to cover all the food joints in Bohri Mohalla in one go, so in this post, I’m going to suggest the best places to eat. Brace yourself…
Jilani Fast Food
Jilani Fast Food aka JFC was our first stop on this food trail. Barely 50 meters once you step inside the Bohri Mohalla area, this joint can become your base to begin the culinary expedition. Start with a Baida Roti and Kasturi Chicken Naan sandwich here. Both are great snackers and do well to satiate your taste buds before you move on to bigger, heavier meals. Initially, we also ordered the cheese Baida Roti but I’d suggest to skip this as the cheese overpowers everything else about the snack. Brave hearts can also sample the Bheja Masala and Gurda Masala with naan bread that has its own fan following base here.
Surti 12 Handi
If you’re a hardcore non-vegetarian, Surti 12 Handi is a bucket-list kind of place. Introduced by a Muslim family from Surat in Gujarat, the cooking style here is a pure labour of love with meats of all kinds prepared in 12 handis or vessels over 48 hours.
We ordered the Nalli Nihari, a slow cooked broth of special spices with bone marrow, topped with a layer of fried oil and fat and garnished with coriander. It came with an Iranian Khameeri roti. The meat was so tender that it came off the bone. And we shed our inhibitions and started beating the bone to suck the soft marrow. To be honest, the flavours are bold, and might I say not every one’s cup of tea, but definitely worth a shot. They also serve other outrageous dishes like Pichota (rump and tail), Paya (trotters) and a special Bhel which is a mixture of all the gravies and meat.
Idris Cold Drinks
Flush all that heavy duty food with a chilled glass of sherbet at Idris Cold Drinks, one of the oldest cold drinks’ house in the Bohri Mohalla area. The aerated drinks here come for as cheap as Rs. 20 per glass and they have flavours like Shikanji, Rimzim, Aqua blue, Kesar, Elaichi, Strawberry, Mango, Variyali and (hold your breath) even Cadbury. I stuck to what they make best, the Idris Special which was a chilled rose sherbet with some masala powder sprinkled over the top. It was a refreshing way to beat the May summer heat.
One of the most crowded stalls in the whole of Bohri Mohalla is Haji Tikka. It’s crowded with people all the time and the wait for your food can easily slip into 25-30 minutes. You’ll get meats of all kinds and colours here from seekh kebab to kheeri, kalegi, boti kebab and chicken in various styles like tikka, achari, pahadi and tangdi. Club these with that tangy super awesome green chutney they serve along with some raw onions and a lightly toasted naan bread, and you will surely not be able to resist another bite. It’s a dare!
This is a landmark in itself and easily one of the most popular sweet shops this side of town. During Ramadan especially, Tawakkal Sweets is bustling with people. Employees stand outside the shop shouting on top of their voices to grab customer attention which I find absolutely unnecessary; because trust me, I’d anyway go there for their amazing phirnis, sweet samosas, mawa jalebis, doodhi kalwa, rabdi and malpuas.
Taj Ice cream
End your food trail with a visit to this legendary ice cream parlour, established in 1887. The sancha ice creams at Taj are still hand churned like olden style. Go for their signature sitaphal flavour or the alphonso mango ice cream which has real mango pieces in it. We also bought the anjeer flavour home, which the owner very kindly packed for us in a dry ice box, so it wouldn’t melt on the way back.
So what’s the final word – Minara Masjid or Bohri Mohalla?
That’s a very tough question but I have an answer. The food is far better at Minara Masjid in terms of variety but if you’d like to sit down and eat peacefully without customers standing over head, go for Bohri Mohalla which is the quieter brother among the two. If you ask me, I’d pick Bohri Mohalla.
My other posts on offbeat experiences in Mumbai
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