Every morning, at precisely 4.30 am, there’s an unexpected buzz near Chembur railway station. Policemen on night patrol, students with deadlines, men pushing advertisement slips into newspapers and early morning joggers gather around a tree. There is hardly any murmur as everyone waits patiently. And then, an auto comes whirring by. Three men emerge from it, and in a flash, a table is set up, on which big containers of fresh, steaming breakfast delicacies are placed; all of this with near-Ranjikanth-like efficiency (nobody comes close to the Thalaivar!)
Medu Vadas along with other breakfast snacks are served from large stainless steel containers
These men who hail from Mandya in Karnataka, have been feeding hungry Mumbaikars for over a decade now. The temporary kiosks, often near railway stations, open early morning and close by 10 am. During the day, they mostly take up other jobs. Ravindra Gowda, who runs the Chembur kiosk, is a mechanic during the day. Basovaraj Gowda, his partner, runs a Bhel Puri shop in Chembur called the Gupta Bhelpuri Stall.
The area near Chembur railway station is abuzz with breakfast hopefuls around a temporary kiosk by 4.30 am. Pics/Nevin Thomas
When we enquired how Gowda becomes a Gupta during the day, he replied, with a wry smile, about how he had rented out the shop from a person named Shiv Shankar Gupta, and never bothered to change the name.
One of the biggest attractions of this makeshift breakfast haven is to watch people across ages, classes and gender share a space and interact freely over mouthfuls of delicious, piping-hot snacks. “During schooldays, a lot of families visit us. Since our food is healthy, home-cooked and tasty, they make the ideal tiffin for students," informs Ravindra, while shuffling effortlessly with serving food from one tin to the other. While they specialties include the Idli (Rs 25 for 2) and Medu Vada (Rs 25, for 2), we loved the rest of the spread as well. The Upma (Rs 15) with chutney and sev was of the mouthwatering variety. The Poha (Rs 15) was a tad too spicy but the sweet, melting Sheera (Rs 15) made up for it.
So, the next time you’re heading home after that late night, and spot people around kiosk at a railway station, you might want to indulge in the yummy detour. "There has not been a day in my memory when the food has not been over by 10 am," reveals Gowda. A glowing testimony to the scrumptious fare they continue to serve.
Upma is served with chutney and sev
Now, you can book your cutting online!
The online shopping market is booming and Mumbai’s chaiwalas aren’t behind the race. Regular chai drinkers of Bandra can now order tea online at Chotuchaiwala.com. Currently they have four Bandra ‘tapris’ online and plan to expand to South Mumbai soon too.
Log on to shop.chotuchaiwala.com