Fri. Jul 19th, 2024

Food unites us all. Which is why breaking bread together has been a long tradition symbolising bonhomie and respect. But today food can also polarise and divide. Dietary preferences can create deep chasms. I remember when my father was recovering and we needed to move him out of our old house – the landlords wouldn’t entertain our enquiries because we would eat non vegetarian food. It was a difficult time aggravated by these problems, but we found a kind landlord who agreed to rent out his flat.

The othering of food has been a classic trend since the past few years. This is mainly applicable to meat and other non vegetarian items. This othering of food is also an extension of the othering of communities and therefore by same analogy the othering of beliefs. But in Bombay, the holy month of Ramadan has always been sacred for all of us. It is the time when many neighbourhoods come alive with stalls selling a variety of foods at iftaar. The iftaar parties may have stopped in the high echelons but they sure continue on the streets.

Back in 2010, I first organised our first food walk across the lanes of Bohri Mohallah and Bhendi Bazar during Ramazan. It was an instant hit. Participants loved partaking the food and reveling in the atmosphere of Mohammed Ali Road post iftaar. What is fascinating is that these walks would turn the othering of food and communities on its head. There was no us verus them, it was all of us together sharing plates of food, interacting with the vendors and breaking khameeri roti and savouring it with nihari and bowls full of bara handi goodness. This neighbourhood then became a personal favourite with Taykhoom leading walks for us around Bohri Mohallah. He introduced us to the Bohri culture, history and food and even during other months it would be a treat to simply walk through the lanes of Mutton Street – Chor Bazaar as we know it and pick up knick knacks. 

Friends have often asked me for my recommendations and this week in BForBombay, I have decided to share the stops that we would make on our Ramazan special walk across this special place. 

Start near Minara Masjid after 8 PM or so. Head to Chinese N Grill for their paya. Savour some mawa jalebis at the Burhanpur Mawa Jalebi stall. In the same lane you will find temporary stalls selling quail and other fowl – grilled is nice. Then walk down to the north passing Mandvi post office and you will reach Noor Mohammadi. Here Chicken Hakimi rules the roost – no pun intended. The kebabs are great too but you can skip them for now. Shalimar Hotel next door makes a good rann but you can come for the biryani the next time. 

For now, work up your appetite and continue up north towards Surti 12 Handi and have the goodness of slow cooked trotters, oxtail and other good stuff with a khameeri roti. From here you walk down in the next lane – the Khara tank road to grab a baida roti at Indian Hotel, the patrel biryani at Firoze Farsan and  savour all the kebabs at Bar-be-que especially the seekh kebabs and then wash it all down with some sherbat at Idris cold drink house. For dessert, have malpuas and phirnis at Tawakkal sweets and a cup of hand churned fruit ice cream at Taj Ice Cream. 

Many participants on this walk would feel a couple of trips are better to make the most of this gastronimcal heaven. If you ask me, you do this walk – shortlist the stuff that you enjoy and then keep coming back as often as you can. Many purists will say that the quality has gone down and the stuff has changed and it’s just too crowded nowadays. While some of it maybe true, you should still visit this neighbourhood for its food, the good spirit and the high energy that runs through the bright lit streets during the holy month of Ramadan.