In the spirit of Ramazan, we went night crawling across the lesser-known foodie hubs of Madanpura and Kurla to return with delectable early morning eats for sehri
The wrinkles on chacha’s face are like writings on the sands of time. He is working his spindly limbs vigorously, kneading and patting the dough while an adolescent peers over a cauldron of bubbling oil waiting with a ladle longer than his arm. He, and many others like him, burning the midnight oil, toiling away under dim incandescent bulbs on streets across the country, are simply here to feed. Eid is their grand daawat, and everyone is invited.
This Ramazan, we decided to take the limelight off iftaar and shed it on sehri (the first and equally important meal of the day). We stopped our feet from dragging us to Mohammed Ali Road — possibly Mumbai’s most popular food hub during this time of the year — and took a turn at the Nagpada Junction into the bustling lanes of Madanpura, ending our night-crawl in Kurla, another culinary cosmos, in our quest to explore the lesser-known.
We came away with notes from an ages-old falooda cart, a bakery that’s giving their sweet treats a youthful twist, cut-price kebabs from a roof-less haunt and gravies that are sure to stir your soul. Take your pick from our best finds.
From The Tawa
A couple of aluminium tins and a few utensils is all that makes up this shop. Run by two men, perched up on low-lying stools, this nameless stall doles out crispy and spicy kebabs at an unbelievable Rs 2. Made with minced meat, flour, chopped coriander and onion and tempered and ground masalas, these kebabs are a great snack, enjoyed predominantly with pavs and mint chutney.
At: In front on AB Shaikh Ahmed Bakery, Shop 158 B, Maulana Azad Road, Near Badi Masjid, Madanpura.
Made with a stuffing of mashed potato, buff kheema and spices, all ensconced within warm buns, the naan chap (Rs 20) is like a desi sandwich and a great quick fix both for sehri as well as a regular hungry foodie. This snack is available at Ajmeri Kebab Pav Corner, a pushcart adjacent to Sakhi Cold Drink, along with other bites like chicken roll and seekh kebab.
At: Ajmeri Kebab Pav Corner, opposite Tucker English Medium School, Madanpura
Time: 5 pm to 2 am
Meat on a plate
Sahara Hotel (not the five-star) is packed with customers even at 3 am. During Ramazan, the restaurant serves specials like bheja fry (Rs 210), gurda tawa (Rs 210), chaap tawa (Rs 255), kaleji tawa (Rs 210) and mutton tawa (Rs 250). “People prefer these items for sehri. Since they won’t be eating again for another 12 hours, they like to eat something special,” co-owner Mohammed Patel, himself rushing home for sehri, tells us. “We get close to 2,000 customers between 1 am and 3 am during the month,” he adds.
At: Sahara Hotel, LBS Marg, Kurla West.
Time: 10 am to 4 am
A cart from yore
Sakhi Cold Drinks is a 100-year-old falooda cart that has a throng of thirsty patrons for a facade. “We have been around for four generations,” says Ahmed Siddiqui, a partner in the family-run business. On offer are several treats like special and sada falooda (R20 to R60), as well as something called a “cold drink”. But unlike the aerated colas that we relate the term with, this one is a concoction of hand-churned ice cream and rabri.
At: Sakhi Falooda, 4, Maulana Azad Road Kamatibki Chawl, Nagpada, Madanpura.
Time: 6 pm to 4.30 am
Nuts over malpua
Inside Byculla's famed bakery, we spot a man lathering huge malpuas with brown and blue spreads. “Nutella hai,” the young staffer clarifies. Zaid Osama Zamzam, the third-generation owner, tells us that he derived the inspiration behind their newly launched Nutella and cookies and cream malpua (Rs 160 to R900 depending on size) from a breakfast staple. “I noticed that many cafés were serving pancakes this way, so thought of applying it to malpuas, too.” We devour the Nutella malpuas, but find the cookies and cream variant too sweet. Try the chocolate phirni and kunafeh on the menu.
At: Zam Zam Sweets & Bakery, Shop 1/A, Alexandre Terrace, Byculla East.
Time: 10 am to 4 am (only during Ramazan)
The sehri staple
Lachcha (Rs 150 to Rs 200), a kind of vermicelli made with wheat flour, is a must-have in Muslim homes during the month of Ramazan. Enjoyed best with hot or cold milk, this is a perfect and simple dish that fills you up without dehydrating you through the day. At this store in Madanpura, you can choose from a range of different lachchas, like ghee and kesari. You could also stock up on sevai, sheer khurma and kimami sevai.
At: Garib Nawaz Sevai Centre, opposite Jhula Maidan, Madanpura.
Time: 10 am to 2.30 am
Paya and haleem
Ramazan is almost incomplete without a good dose of haleem and paya. The meaty and comforting lentil-based dish and broth are a great way to charge up for the day. Enjoy them at this midnight haunt.
At: Pure Taste of Delhi, LBS Marg, Kurla West.
Time: 12 pm to 3 am
Cost: Rs 220 (paya); Rs 220 (haleem)
We chanced on a cool ingredient at a dry fruit store. These roasted watermelon seeds are great both for garnishing desserts and to enjoy as munchies.
At: Any dry fruit store on Sakli Street, Madanpura, Nagpada.
Phirni and jalebi
Tuck into juicy jalebi and creamy phirni available at this well-known sweet shop’s outlet in Kurla. There’s chocolate-and mango-flavoured phirnis, too.
At: JJ Jalebi, LBS Marg, Kurla West.
Time: 1 pm to 3 am
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