When I arrived in Mumbai 11 years ago, I met Ishaaq (then a friend, now my husband :)) and he showed me the other side of the Bombay. Mohammed Ali Road – the underbelly of Mumbai, the other side of the posh South Bombay. Where all the noise of the traffic, horns and people mingles with the calls of fruit vendors and smells of sweet shops and other hawkers. It can all make you crazy or make you love it! Well, I didn’t love it for the noise, but the food? Oh, the food in those little bylanes!
I’ve been through Bhendi Bazaar, had the Imam ka Sharbat – a refreshing drink made of milk, fruit syrup and topped with watermelon pieces – I’ve had the quintessential Bohri dish, Chana Batata. I’ve had Tandoori Chicken Tangdi, the Chicken Baida Roti, Chicken Mayo Rolls at Hamza Fast Food here.
Come the holy month of Ramzaan and all of Bhendi Bazaar and Mohammed Ali Road lights up. The hustle and bustle of the space, if it were possible, increases in decibel levels and the smells, in intensity. For the past 9 years I’ve been visiting Mohammed Ali Road and Bhendi Bazaar for its delicious food every Ramzaan, and I’m going to take you, dear reader, down my lane to eating the choicest dishes – especially if you don’t eat Beef or Offal!
Nagdevi Street & Bhendi Bazaar
Go to Nagdevi Street or Bhendi Bazaar (Valibhai) for the delicious Barah Handi. I swear by the Paya (available both in Mutton and Beef) and Khameeri Roti (the latter, I could eat all alone; it is so delicious) here. You can also eat the Nalli Nihari (this one is made of beef) with the creamy bone marrow (nalli) and the bhel, which is the combination of all the 12 ingredients in the 12 handis. This place does not serve mutton nalli nihari.
Now, you can get Malpua across several bylanes in the area. You can also get Firni (rice pudding) in various flavours (malai, kesar, mango; I’ve even had one with fresh chikoo!).
And then, there is the Nalli Nihari! My favourite of them all. The chotte ka Nalli Nihari that is available at Chinese n’ Grill in Minara Masjid street (15 min away from Bhendi Bazar) is delicious. The special ‘balti’ nalli nihari is basically a gravy with some pieces of mutton served with lots and lots of bone marrow that you don’t even have to put the effort in to get out of the bone. You can also ask for double nalli. What takes this dish to another level altogether is those slivers of ginger and the mildly spicy sliced green chillies that you garnish the dish with!
A few tips:
- Do the Minara Masjid Round on one day and the Bhendi Bazaar Round on another.
- Go with at least one person to experience all this food, especially someone who knows their way around! The crowds are crazy and you may just feel lost!
- If you do not eat beef, ensure that you confirm with your server that it is mutton and not beef (use the chotte-bade jargon)
- If you are a stickler for cleanliness more than you are a lover of food this place is not for you!
- A lot of these places serve these dishes all around the year. So, if you don’t like the crowds, you can go there. However, the charm of it is in the crowds, smells and sounds.