Mumbai's street food just got healthier!

Jul 03, 2013, 10:10 IST | Anjana Vaswani

There's good news for desi snack addicts who are keen to turn a healthy leaf. Many of Mumbai's quintessential street food favourites are now available in oil-free and baked versions

A couple of months ago, MTR foods launched their Oats Upma, a healthier alternative to the South Indian breakfast recipe that’s traditionally prepared with the already nourishing semolina. The substitute boosts the fibre, protein, calcium and iron content of the dish. ‘Maximise nutrition’ seems to be the new mantra that’s driving culinary experiments in the city, a fact that is evidenced by evolving menus of home-based caterers. Take Neeta and Sadhana Singhania from Cuffe Parade who for almost fifteen years, have been pampering Mumbai’s palates with old favourites such as dhoklas and theplas and Marwadi specialties like Chilla Chaat (crepes), Kalmi Bada (fried lentil patties) and Badam Seera (a confection prepared with crushed almonds and sugar).

Baked Samosa Tucket
Baked Samosa Tucket

Rings of health
“We’ve been doing this for years now,” says Sadhana (32) as she plates a portion of Baked Ragda Pattice (Rs 550 a bowl). “Five years ago, we introduced healthy alternatives such as Baked Vada Pav and Jaggery Rasmalai,” she adds, crediting her mother-in-law Sumitra (75), an entrepreneur and trustee of Bombay Hospital for encouraging the enterprise she co-manages with her sister-in-law Neeta. “Their first item was a ring-shaped Rawa Dhokla,” says the senior as she recalls the birth of the business.

Baked Vada Pavs
Baked Vada Pavs from Neeta and Sadhana. The duo also prepare vada pavs with Rava idlis instead of bread

Semolina rings (Rs 30 per piece/ minimum order: 12) rank among their hottest sellers, “Nowadays, we get a lot of orders for variations of this dish, where we replace coconut chutney that used to occupy the central cavity with mixed vegetables,” informs Neeta. Once favoured as a low-cal alternative, baked burgers just don’t have the same appeal as Rawa Idli Burgers (Rs 25 per piece/minimum order: 12) in which the baked vegetable patty is sandwiched between steamed semolina idlis.

Nachani Uttapam
Nachani Uttapam at Soam in Girgaon Chowpatty. Pic/Madeeha Attari

Just like home
Pinky Dixit who started Babulnath restaurant, Soam eight years ago with the intent to make authentic home-cooked Gujarati food available to vegetarians, tells us, “We introduced Nachni Dosas (Rs 120) and Nachni-Makai-Utappam (Rs 110) four years ago; our menu includes healthy dishes like Vitamin Bhel (a sprout salad dressed with yoghurt and bhel chutney), Jowar Pita Pockets filled with Grilled Green-Pea Patties and Moong Dal Chillas (Rs 120). These days, even the flours we use are freshly ground in our kitchens.”

Rawa Idli
Rawa Idli stuffed with chutney and garnished with chopped peppers

ICE Hospitality, the group behind popular Mughlai cuisine restaurant Zaffran has also entered this space. Rajendra Khaire, Head, Operations, Buckets and Tuckets, ICE Hospitality’s two-year-old enterprise, tells us, “When we bake our samosas, we don’t even brush them with oil. That it doesn’t take away from the taste is evidenced in the fact that customers keep coming back for more.” Khaire tells us almost all their dishes are cooked in a combi-oven to minimise the use of oil and maximise on nutrition.

Sisters in-law Neeta and Sadhana with their mother in-law, Sumitra Singhania

Besides baked samosas (Rs 19 per piece), Buckets and Tuckets also offers a Samosa Tucket (Rs 30) in which these baked samosas are tucked between slices of whole-wheat bread and delicious Biryani Buckets (prices start at Rs 81 for the Achari Aloo Biryani Bucket and go up to Rs 136 for the Teekha Chicken Biryani). “Since our target clientele is the city’syouth, health and nutrition are our top priorities,” opines Khaire.

With the launch of their AirFryer last month (less than Rs 15,000), Dutch home-appliance and electronic goods company Philips has managed good reach for their piece of the pie. It employs a grill and fan to replicate the browning and crispness of deep-fried food but don’t use nearly as much oil. So, when the heart craves comfort food this monsoon, whether you cook at home or dine out, you needn’t worry about a coronary explosion.

Facts & figures
Technopak Advisors, a New Delhi-based research and consultancy firm reveals that the Indian health food industry stands at 120 billion rupees with estimates that this figure will grow at a compound annual growth rate of 25–28 per cent, which should take it to Rs 225 billion by 2015. Mumbai-based consulting firm, Tata Strategic Management Group (TSMG) believes these numbers are conservative. Their report estimates that the industry will be worth approxi-mately Rs 360 billion rupees by 2015.

Dial a healthy bite
Opposite Babulnath Temple, Girgaon Chowpatty.
Call: 23698080
Buckets & Tuckets
Opposite Apple Heritage, Andheri Kurla Road, Chakala, Andheri (E).
Call: 65560311 / 65560300
Neeta and Sadhana Singhania
9322147760; 9820229185 

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