*Disclaimer – This post is going to be a bit non vegetarian affair*
As many of you know, the holy month of fasting – Ramzan started early this week and believe me, Ramzan perhaps is the best time for foodies travelers to visit any Islamic country. I remember our guide – Jeevan, in Malaysia, telling us how lively Kuala Lumpur and Putrajaya get during Ramzan, and lively in a very traditional and cultural way. And though I haven’t travelled to any foreign countries during Ramzan, I can vouch for his statement based on my local experiences during iftars. Did you think this post was about some foreign nation? Sorry, I am just going to take you through a famous lane of Aamchi Mumbai.
Iftars aka the time post the evening prayers is when people break their day long fast and indulge in some gastronomical affairs; and this is the time when lanes near masjids come alive with all kinds of food – street food, traditional food, sweets and what not. A lot of places in Mumbai have this culture during Ramzan but the one known for it is Mohammed Ali Road.
Named after Mohammed Ali Jauhar, this lane in South Bombay is one of the oldest Khao Galli aka street food lane of Mumbai. It is perhaps the Sarafa of Mumbai but for non-vegetarians. Leading to a Green Mosque called the Minara Masjid, this lane preps for Iftar or iftari since morning and just past the Maghrib prayers one can smell the essence of spices and tandoors.
The place is flocked by people and every shop has waiting. Mumbaikars love Mumbai’s street food but at Muhammad Ali Road it is more like the street food culture of Lal Chowk, Srinagar has met the Hyderabadi flavors and won over the standard Mumbaiya Bhaji Pav. Kebabs and tandooris make sure you notice and crave for a taste the whole time, the whole time but sure give vegetarians a hard time. Most of the food available is non vegetarian, yes but there are some surprises too.
Worry not! You can always indulge in scrumptious servings of pav bhaji and abundance of sweets! Yes sweets! While for most Muhamad Ali road has been about the bountiful non vegetarian options, for me it is about sweets, sweets and more sweets. (That is all I like actually; I just can't take a lot of spice!)
Malpuas, Firni, Aflatoon, Cham cham and god knows what all – crazy number of options and at crazy number of shops, but the most crowded ones were Noorani Sweets and Suleman Usman Mithaiwala. These places have been a part of the lane since early 20th century, with Suleman Usman Mithaiwala dating back to 1936!
The hustle bustle of the place is infection and the sweets turn out to be the highlight. If you love to experience a place like a local, soak yourself in the culture and of course love food – this season you should visit Mohammed Ali Road if in Mumbai!
P.S. - Unfortunately there have been considerable health concerns around the food there and for obvious reasons – the unhygienic area and unclean roads. For new experiences and for food lovers, this place sure is a must try but being cautious has also become a mandate lately. Please keep a course of pro biotics in handy and avoid spicy food if you have a weak stomach. Be safe and have fun!!!
P.S. – Thank you to my colleagues Sameer and Jayesh for introducing me to this place.