In Mumbai, when one utters the word ‘Ramzan’, the first two things that come to mind are fasting and Mohammed Ali Road. Skewers of marinated meats, spattering sounds of ghee simmering along with a mix of spices; the recipes of which have been handed down from one generation to another, and hundreds of trays of neatly lined Malpuas. The aromas emanating from the food dished out along the streets of this buzzing area during Ramzan invites people from all communities from across the city and even beyond. It’s where the city’s best street food is on offer, it’s value-for-money on call.
As much as meat and different varieties of breads that are on offer, the street is worth a visit for its sweets as well. One of the best places to head to for a sugar rush is Suleman Mithaiwala. The shop gets its name from the grandfather of the current owner, Irfan Mithaiwala. It started in 1936 when Suleman Mithaiwala set up a bakery on the street. He later started producing sweets; especially what remains till date as their bestseller — Aflatoon — a baked sweet that starts from R280 per kg and goes up to R540. Suleman had nine sons, all of whom later branched out and started their own shops; a few brothers are in Pakistan as well. It was Irfan’s father Abdul Latif who started the current shop in 1989, and Irfan currently runs it.
While the store still sells all its traditional sweets, they now have a slew of newly developed products including a fast food joint. “Diabetes is one of the biggest lifestyle diseases today, and also people are getting more health conscious by the day. For this reason, we have a range of sugar free sweets. We have also improved in terms of packaging, especially gift packing,” says Mithaiwala.
Also, the new entrant on the menu list is the Vegetable Milk Barfi, a preparation made from a mix of different vegetables with milk and dry fruits. You might also want to sample different variants of the Milk Barfi like watermelon, papaya, cherry, litchi, strawberry, black berry and the most innovative of the lot - the Five Star Milk Barfi, which is made from a chocolate bar.
Apart from the Milk Barfi, Ramzan favourites Malpua (Rs 70) and Phirni (Rs 35) are their other big sellers, “Before Ramzan, we buy almost 50,000 of the earthen bowls in which the Phirni is sold.” Like the Milk Barfis, they offer flavoured versions of the Phirni too (Rs 40). Ask him what makes them decide on the new recipes and he promptly says, “R&D. Every enterprise needs it.”
Mithaiwala feels it’s not only him but every establishment in the area that’s witnessing change. “Nowadays, you get Chinese, Shawarmas and even Lebanese cuisine on the road. Apart from sweets, we also sell a lot of chocolates and different cakes during Ramzan,” he says. But he feels it’s the experience of eating on a street that gets people from different backgrounds, from all over, to come here. Apart from several merchant families from the city, Suleman Mithaiwala counts director Anant Mahadevan and actor Farooque Sheikh as their regulars. They also ship sweets all over the world with the help of online transactions.
Ask him if like himself, his kids too would get in the business, “Right now, my son is too young and all he wants to do is become (Wayne) Rooney one day. Let’s see what the future holds.”
Let the milk flow!
For their sweet preparations, Suleman Mithaiwala uses a whopping 200 litres of milk everyday during the month of Ramzan.