Breakfast to meal accompaniment: Here’s why Mumbai’s farsan tradition has stood the test of the time

23 February,2024 05:05 PM IST |  Mumbai  |  Aakanksha Ahire

Mumbai is home to a large number of farsan shops making farsan an intrinsic part of the city’s food culture. Mumbaikars are known to start and end their day eating farsan items. We spoke to some of the city’s iconic farsan shops to explore Mumbaikars love for this Indian cuisine

Farsan is a staple for Mumbaikars. Photo Courtesy: iStock

Key Highlights

Subscribe to Mid-day GOLD

Already a member? Login

For unlimited access to all the articles

Farsan is a popular type of Indian cuisine that refers to any kind of savoury snack from sev gathiya to khamani, dhokla and khandvi. Tracing its origin in the state of Gujarat, this food culture made its way into the heart of Mumbaikars. Today, for many, especially office-going Mumbaikars, farsan has also become their daily breakfast.

What makes it a favourite munching snack is its versatility as it ensures it caters to every pallet. To explore Mumbai's love towards this Gujarati cuisine, we spoke to the owners of some of the city's iconic farsan shops and Mumbaikars who dive deep into their common love for this food.

Farsan is a staple for Mumbaikars
Ramesh Chedda (63), owner of Yours Truly CHEDDA, an 80-year-old farsan and sweets shop says, "Any farsan item made from besan is my absolute favourite, be it sev, fafda, gathiya or khaman. I can eat farsan every day."

Yours Truly CHEDDA was established by Ramesh Chedda's grandfather who shifted to Mumbai from Gujarat for a living. Earlier in the business of food grains, he chose to set up a farsan shop recognising people's love for snack items. Today, the store takes pride in selling uncountable types of snack items, chocolates and sweets.

Also Read: Prakash cha sabudana vada to Gomantak chi fish thali: Iconic eateries in Dadar serving authentic Maharashtrian cuisine

When asked why farsan is loved by all, Chedda says, "Our sales of savoury items have increased in the last few years. Earlier, many people used to live in joint families. Women in joint families used to make special snacks for the entire family. Now, with people choosing to be in nuclear families, people hardly cook breakfast or even snack items. They prefer buying snacks directly from stores like ours." He adds, "People today are busy too. Getting snacks in a shop that is tasty and filling is a blessing."

Traditional farsan food over Western snacks
"If you ask me to eat burgers and pizza every day, I will not, but I can eat farsan every single day," says Chedda. According to him, the young generation enjoys eating more Western snacks like fries, pizzas and pasta. There are only a few, he says, who enjoy eating farsan items. "This is not to say that the younger generation doesn't eat farsan at all, but not as much as their parents and grandparents."

Nirav Harishchandra Soneji (45), owner of Gokuldas Gathiawala says, "It largely depends on parents and what they provide their children from time to time. Besides, those rooted in culture will always opt for traditional Indian snacks."

Gokuldas Gathiawala was established in 1924 by Soneji's grandfather. Originally from Bhavnagar, Gujarat, Soneji's grandfather too shifted to Mumbai in search of a living. He started with selling ‘chana chor garam' carrying the strapped basket across his chest and later went on to set up a farsan store of his own.

Sharing his personal experience Soneji says, "Although I enjoy eating farsan, my son is a pizza lover. His peer group influences his food choices. However, the population who opts for Western food is different. Their education and exposure to various cultures influence their food choice. I believe that a majority of the Indian population still enjoys traditional meals."

Also Read: Add more flavour to your mundane breakfast with these chef-special egg recipes

He adds, "Coffee in cafes, burgers and pizzas are all expensive. Farsan however, is available at affordable prices. Considering that most Indians might not be able to afford expensive products, they will always prefer Indian snacks."

To cater to the taste buds of the young, farsan shops also innovate with snack items by introducing unique flavours and snacks. A red 1989 established-Prashant Corner owned by Prashant Sapkal is one such shop. Items like Masala Namkeen Para, and Kaju Bhajiya (fusion farsan which has moong, dry fruits and sev-gathiya) have been made available at their store. Haresh Bobade who has been working at the store for the last five years says, "Customers always love to eat new snack items. So we keep experimenting to cater to their taste buds."

Farsan stores like Yours Truly CHEDDA, Gokuldas Gathiawala and Prashant Corner don't just serve Gujarati farsan items but also other snacks like chivda, cheese cornballs, pattice, Punjabi samosa, patti samosa, batata vadas, puran poli, Indian sweets, and much more.

Elevating the taste of mundane meals
Soneji states that the farsan includes a huge variety of food items. He says, "It can largely be categorised into dry farsan and wet farsan. Dry farsan includes sev, papdi, wafers, gathiya, chivda, boondi, khakra that has a shelf life of 30 days. Wet farsan on the other hand is for quick consumption. This includes khamni, khandvi, dhokla, khaman, alu vadi, patti samosa, etc. These items are consumed daily. Mothers send these food items in their children's tiffin boxes as they aren't just quick meals but most of them are healthy too."

Bobade shares an interesting observation: Mumbaikars are always on the run. Dropping by a farsan store to pack some fafda jalebi, samosa and khaman is the best option they have. He says, "Many enjoy munching on farsan items when travelling from work to home and vice versa. For Mumbaikars, farsan has become their travel companion.

Bobade adds, "It is not just a travel companion, but makes for a key part of our day-to-day meals. Right from waking up to a cup of tea along with some farsan to adding it to dal chawal when having dinner, one just cannot get enough of farsan items."

True to this, farsan items like gathiya are often used to cook gravies at home. Sev-tomato shaak, sev bhaji are the most common. Maharashtrian misal too is incomplete without mixed farsan. Besides, people relish these savoury items by adding them to their vegetables, curries, dal and even plain rice to elevate the taste of boring everyday meals.

Soneji shares, "Most of the customers have told me that they love the Marwadi sev available at my store and that they relish dal rice by mixing this sev."

Mumbaikars share their love for farsan
Mid-day Online also spoke to farsan lovers in Mumbai and here's what they had to say.

According to Hrudaynath Redkar (64), farsan is an intrinsic part of Mumbai's food culture, deeply loved by its people. "Whether it's the dry-packed varieties like mix farsan, chivdas, and kachoris, or the go-to snacks like patra and patti samosa, farsan holds a special place in every Mumbaikar's heart. These snacks are not just treats; they're lifelines for many, offering a quick, affordable, and incredibly satisfying option. Even with just Rs 10 in your pocket, a handful of farsan can fill your stomach."

Redkar adds, "I love having farsan with poha topped with lemon - it's a Maharashtrian classic that never fails to make me happy. Misal pav with farsan is another combination that I can never get enough of."

For Sona Virendra Katira (23) papdi, khandvi, dhokla, patra, muthiya, khakhra, gathiya are her favourites. She also shares her favourite farsan shops - Laxmi Farsan, Morbiwala, Gayatri, Shrimali, Bikaji, and Purushottam.

Sona says she enjoys relishing farsan items, especially on weekends. "It's a family ritual to eat farsan on weekends, especially Sundays because it is a day when the whole family sits together and eats, spending some quality time."

Gayatri Hatkar (54) enjoys eating farsan items twice or thrice a week. Her favourites are dhokla, fafda, kachori and idada. She says, "While farsan items are undoubtedly delicious, the papaya chutney served along with it is truly amazing and adds more to the overall taste."
For Gayatri, her favourite farsan shop is Shree Hanuman Dairy.

Rupal Gune (51) is another farsan lover who says, "Farsaan is a staple, especially for Gujratis. What I enjoy the most is Bhavnagri gathiya, papdi gathiya, and chivdas. I eat it daily. Most of the farsan items in my house come from CAMY Wafers." Rupal mostly enjoys eating farsan items with masala tea.

Farsan is a food culture that must be passed on to future generations
On a parting note, Soneji of Gokuldas Gathiawala mentions that while there is nothing wrong with enjoying foods of the Western countries, we must preserve our own culture too and food is the best way to do that. "Parents must expose their children to a variety of Indian traditional food to pass on our rich culture to the generations to come."

According to him, farsan food items are classic Indian snacks that will never be replaced by Western snacks.

"Exciting news! Mid-day is now on WhatsApp Channels Subscribe today by clicking the link and stay updated with the latest news!" Click here!
indian food mumbai mumbai food Food and drink lifestyle life and style
Related Stories