Patil Canteen For Fish Fry
A first timer would make the mistake of walking past Patil Canteen. Ask around, and regulars will point to the narrow entry to the eatery, launched in 1949. Sagar Patil, its third generation owner sits at the counter.
"It's still my parents who cook the food. We are from Alibag, so it's authentic Maharastrian food and cooked just like it is back home. The sukka masala is home-made too," he tells us. The canteen begins service at 9 am and breakfast options include misal pav, cutlets, vatana pattice, ragda and sheera. The lunch bell goes off at 12.30 pm and service continues till 3 pm. "But, most of our non-veg items are over in two hours — especially the fish fry," says Patil.
Sagar Patil, third generation owner of Patil Canteen, serves a fish fry thali. Pic/Bipin Kokate
We're there at noon and his parents, Ratna and Ramakant, along with uncle Lahu, are prepping for lunch. "We shallow fry the surmai in turmeric and garam masala. It gains a crispy crust and a soft inside. We serve this with dal rice, and chapati for R180," says Patil. Meat dishes depend on market rates.
Customer Vishal More, a JJ School of Arts student from Nashik, says, "I live alone in Panvel and can't cook. The kaleji thal is delicious, and so is the fish fry. The food here is Khandeshi [northwestern region of Maharashtra] and makes me feel like I am back home."
Where: Next to St Xavier's College, Dhobi Talao
Be there by: 12.30pm
Yazdani Bakery For Apple Pie
When we walk into Yazdani at 6 pm and ask Tirandaz Zend at the counter for an apple pie, we are told it is over. "Only available between 3 pm to 5 pm. Come tomorrow," Zend says crisply. The next day, the restless owner prods the photographer to finish his job fast.
Pankaj Pandhi bites into the Apple pie at Yazdani Bakery. Pic/Datta Kumbhar
"If my father comes in, he won't let you stand here. Hurry!" He is serious. Fresh out of the oven, a pastry hides the warm caramelised apple pieces. We get chatty with a customer, 62-year-old Pankaj Pandhi. "I live in Las Vegas, and am visiting the city after eight long years.
This is always my first stop in Mumbai. I used to come here as a 10-year-old. The taste has not changed one bit," says Pandhi.
Where: Cawasji Patel Road, Kala Ghoda
Be there by: 3pm
Suzette For Croissants
There are only 20 pieces of the buttery, flaky bread up for grabs daily at each of theoutlets. French-origin proprietor, Pierre Labail, says, "Making croissants is a tedious process that takes four hours."
Pierre Labail of Suzette. Pics/Satej Shinde
His partners and chefs, Jeremie Sabbagh and Antonia Achache, studied bread-making and pastries at the Bakery School of Paris. "Our aim was to serve sandwiches and baguettes that are not available in India. The croissants are made in white flour and the butter is imported from France. We open at 8 am and they are over by 10. Some, who know this, give us advance orders.
Then, there are days when people walk in and buy 10 to 12 pieces. On weekends, we make around 30 to 35," says Labail, adding that they serve chocolate and plain croissants, each costing R110. In a corner, we spot 31-year-old Nicola Antaki, an architect. "I am from the south west region of France, so I know how a croissant should be — crispy outside, soft and light inside. It should not be too dry. I come here once a week for a coffee and croissant."
Where: Pali Naka, Nariman Point and Powai
Be there by: 8 am
Hindustan Hotel For Khichda
Here's a Ramzan special item available through the year. The khichda is a traditional Muslim dish made with lentils, mutton and masalas and with the fried onions sprinkled on top.
Owner Mohammed Mangalpady at Hindustan Hotel. Pic/Sameer Markande
Every household has a different style of cooking it, depending on the choice of meat — mutton or beef. Best enjoyed when hot, it is laden with ginger and garlic. It is slow-cooked to get a thick paste-like consistency. Mohammed Mangalpady, who runs Hindustan Hotel on Mohammed Ali Road, says, "While our kebabs are available all through the day, the khichda gets over by noon. We start serving it at 10 am."
Where: Shop No. 152, IMM Road, Mohammed Ali Road, Masjid Bunder
Be there by: 10am
Kothari Sweets For Grilled Vada Pav
Six months ago, Jekin Aman decided it was time his mithai store became more than just that. And, what better than the ubiquitous vada pav to start with. "You get regular vada pav at every nook in the city. But I wanted to give it a twist," says the 30-year-old. He introduced the grilled version of Mumbai's favourite snack.
These days, the shop sells about 12,000 pieces daily, and the best time to drop by is between 1 pm and 3 pm. "We make the batata vadas, stuff it between the jumbo pav, add tomatoes, capsicum and chaat masala, and then grill it," says the Mulund resident. What gives this snack its 'hatke' taste are the three chutneys (coriander, garlic and dates).
"My grandfather set up shop 65 years ago. He is the one who handed down the recipes, and I feel it's the chutneys that make the vada pav so tasty." Aman also recommends the special thandai which they prepare on Holi. "We make 1,500 litres and people say it's better than anything they have tasted before," he smiles.
Where: Zaver Road, near Mulund station (W)
Bbe there by: 3pm
Pac (Parsi Amelioration Committee) For Ghari
We make it a point to reach PAC by 1 pm. Any later than 4 pm, and you'll be greeted by near empty shelves, is what we have learnt through experience. "Noon is the best time to come, because that's when all our items are prepared," says Persis Khambatta, who has worked here for more than 10 years.
Ghari at Parsi Amelioration Committee (PAC), Grant Road. Pics/Sayyed Sameer Abedi
PAC is famous for its mound of sweet and savoury Parsi snacks like the ghari (made of puri batter, milk mawa, ghee and sugar, made into flat roundels) and chapat (pancake prepared using a batter of eggs, milk, semolina and flour). It's available in dates and coconut flavours.
"It's difficult to choose a highest selling item, because all our items get sold in no time," she says while making way for a tray of freshly baked chicken puffs. All the items on the menu are prepared in an adjoining kitchen, which is run by a 16-member team. When we quiz Khambatta about the unusual name, she says, "The eatery belongs to the Parsi trust. The profits earned are divided into salaries for the staff, and the rest is used to help the needy in the community."
Where: Shastri Hall, Shop No 3, Ground Floor, opposite Adenwala Bungalow, across Bhatia Hospital
Be there by: 12pm
Eat Well For Chicken Sandwiches And Biryani
One of Mumbai's first cold storage shops, 41-year-old Eat Well is popular among locals for homemade products including its cakes. Its 50-year-old owner, Parag Phadnis also sells chicken sandwiches and chicken biryani, both made in-house.
Parag Phadnis makes chicken sandwiches and chicken biryani at Eat Well. Pic/Satej Shinde
Vivek Amonkar, a 41-year-old customer says, "I'm sure they put some secret ingredient in the biryani. It tastes better than any other I have eaten. Sometimes, people visit his shop to meet the owners even when they don't wish to buy anything."
Where: Vaibhav building, oppostite Gokul Nursing Home, MG Road, Mulund West
Be there by: 11am
Belgaum Ghee Depot For Chicken Patties
If you are walking from Grant Road station (West) towards Nana Chowk, Belgaum Ghee Depot will fall to your right. It's at the corner, squeezed between a medical store and a hardware shop. The strategic location ensures it receives not just a Parsi clientele but anybody looking for a quick bite.
The shop's quirky name comes from their original business, which was selling ghee brought from Belgaum. Pic/Sameer Sayyed Abdedi
The chicken patties (R25) remains its biggest draw and the Parsi chicken farcha (R55) and juicy tandoori chicken (R55) come a close second. "Everything we sell here is homemade," says owner Farokh Workingboxwalla.
"My maternal grandfather set up the shop in 1943; it remained a ghee business until 24 years ago. I was in school then — when we started serving snacks," he says about the eatery's quirky name.
Where: N Bharucha Marg, Nana Chowk, Grant Road
Be there by: 1 PM
Panshikar For The Rajgira Puri And Bhaji
We happen to visit Panshikar on Mahashivratri, when the Girgaum eatery sees brisk business. "You should have come tomorrow because we won't be able to devote much time to you," says the manager apologetically while offering us a prized seat in the 50-seater eatery. No table is vacant for more than a minute as patrons, ranging from young Maharashtrian couples to policemen drop in for a quick snack. "Our place is known for fasting items.
Vaishali Khare has been visiting Panshikar for its rajgira puris and misal for 30 years. Pics/Sayyed Sameer Abedi
The farali puri and bhaji and misal sell fast," says owner Jeetendra Panshikar (48), whose grandfather Shripad Panshikar, established the place in 1921. The farali poori is prepared with the dough of rajgira, singhara flour and salt, rolled in a small circle and deep fried in oil.
At Panshikar's, they serve it with potato bhaji or suran (yam) during fasting periods. While the eatery started off selling mithai and masala milk, the menu now includes snack items right from Jain samosa to farali pattice. Vaishali Khare (69), a former Girgaum resident, who now lives in Walkeshwar is one of Panshikar's loyal patrons. "I grew up in this neighnbourhoood, so I would visit it at least twice a week. I like the food so much that I've got my friends here all the way fromPune to try it," she smiles as she bites into a sabudana wada.
Where: Mohan Building, JSS Road, Girgaum
Be there by: 10 am
Mumbai food guide: The big fly-off-the-shelves-eateries round-up (Read more)