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Sunday, December 2, 2012

Food trail in the narrow lanes of Bohri Mohallah

Every city has their own food specialty to show off, a signature dish that is a must-have-when-you-visit and one must know what to taste and where to find it. Therefore it is wise to follow the food trail with an expert who knows the local people and is able to tell some history behind the food.
I experienced one such food trail this week, my first ever of this kind.

Invitation to foodtrail was hard to resist, it promised and delivered:

Live demos of how tava fries are made come up next – bheja (brains), gurda (kidneys) – ideas on how to cook these at home. Then chicken rolls…Karachi not Kolkata style. And then ‘Burma’ roti. What we call Moghlai Paratha in Kolkata. Martabak in Singapore and Malaysia. From the kitchen we would move down to benches for a ‘sit down’ meal. Plates and pieces of bread will be shared…that’s what community eating is all about The vegetarian option here is fried potatoes… the tava is common though
We then head to the kebab corner and stand by the coals and photograph as our kebabs are barbequed. My favourite, and that of all the folks I connect with, is the khiri (udder) kebabs. We could also try some beef koftas. If you really must then you could ask me to order a fried chicken. Chances are those that love the khiri won’t ask for it. I think they serve some paneer tikkas too. 
Appetisers and anitpastis done we head for the mains. Baara Handis. Slow cooked meat. Cuts of beef and goat.  Alchemised here over a century of cooking perfection. Served with a mix of daal broths cooked over six hours in the simmering handis. Topped with ‘josh’ or the fat that the meat gave out when cooked. They plate it with nihari…the soft marrow…and bits of coriander to give the textural and visual contrast. Many of us feel that this is one of the best meat experiences that we have had in absolute terms with no qualifiers. For cutlery you get huge, freshly tandoored rotis, which once fed armies…today it feeds what Soumik call’ food commandos’. 
To cool down we head for ice creams. Ice creams that are made in the manner it has been for 120 years. A formula which ensures that the cream is omnipresent in this ice cream at least unlike the modern pretenders. If you are a health nut, and if fruits are your thing, then you will be happy to find that not a single bite is not packed with fresh fruits here.
Kalyan Kamarkar has started a food trail and he hopes to do many more, exploring different zones of Mumbai.
His maiden food trail was started through the narrow lanes of Bohri Mohallah and I was only too happy to join his group of eleven persons. He walked so comfortably down the street, as if it were his second home, knowing exactly what to eat and which stall specialized in what kind of food. Over three hours, we walked on cobbled streets, chatting with the owner, stopping at some places for cooking demonstration, and tasting street food at every station, not realizing that we were eating beyond our capacity, so much so that it left us with very little space to squeeze in the last dish of the day…..a delicious ice-cream.

Kababs on fire

the kiri kababs just melted in the mouth, gone in flash

sweet rice

channa wallah made non-veg chana chaat, mixing chana with potatoes, liver, kidney, tamarind and dry masala, a dish to die for if u are hard core non-vegetarian.

The naan cooking in the clay oven (Tandoor), The best way retain its freshness is to fold it twice, this was so crispy that when dung in the gravy, it just melts in the mouth.


 Feroz-Farshan guy educated us on the interesting things that he sells in his store. Whoever heard about a biryani without rice? well, he makes Biryani from patra.

Patra bhajiya, I bought some home

so this is the Patrani Biryani

Shabbir chacha who graciously let folks taste all his achars dropping spoonful of achar on our palm. 

chicken rolls fried on Tava

Tava Kidney

Tasted yum with bread

This bakery had egg coated toasts

The food price in this street is low but the taste is very exceptional

The chef coats the skewer with kababs

The kabad roasted on an open flame

Fresh garlic, that I brought it home, stir fried with chillies, added salt and lime and the family enjoyed it.

Mutton biryani, its grain separated, full of flavor of mixed spices and meat and with less oil 

Liver masala

Meat is doused in a mix of daal harisas, which were bubbling for more than 6 hours. He plated with sensuous marrow and meat and served it with the fresh roti taken out from tandoor, folded twice to maintain its crispness.

Chacha says he is the last of his clan who will do this food business like this, the younger generation will not continue, since they are educated and have different goals in life.

Finally at ice-cream hub where we went behind the shop to get little gyan on ice-cream making and then had a lovely chat with other companions over the cups of different flavors of natural ice-creams while Kalyan updated us on all the info behind the walks. It was nice meeting all the interesting people and specially kainaz (Kalyan's spouse) who made sure that everybody was comfortable and was having a good time.


Aaron said...

wow, this is the kind of food i love eatn, :) especially on a cold winter evening.On the money great pics already salivating... two thumbs up

The knife said...

Dear Pushpa, this is such a wonderful post. I am floating a 1000 km above sea level after reading this. Thank you for your words of encouragement. Thank you for being part of the walk. So happy that you enjoyed yourself. And thank you for being such an inspiration...was amazed to hear about some of your life experiences and of what you are doing. Cheers, Kalyan

Swati Raman Garg said...

have heard so much about this place before, and also read another of kalyans post.. this has come in my must try places.

Aparna said...

I have been wanting to take part in something similar in Bangalore. Your lovely pics and description make me want to do it as soon as I can :), though I understand the gems you find in Mumbai are absolutely incomparable to what we can find here.

The pics and characters really evoked the character of the place for me, thanks for sharing :) !

├čiju said...

This is a very nice post and we have been missing such food for 10 long years since we moved out of India. Makes me think i should return to india just to enjoy these food.

TypeWriterMom said...

Lucky girl :) delectable ..but I am sure the food was good too!

Swathika said...

Yummm....looking at your pics...all I can think of is food at 11:20pm :P
The pics have created a bbq warmth and aroma of the charcoal along with a drooling me...who can do nothing but look at the pics and drool more :P

Pallavi Purani said...

The spoils of life in the form of Street food. Some of these places are so rigid to the regime that they have stuck to it without making changes for over years. What food culture shall do without them. thanks for writing about Bohri

france pope said...

Pretty good post. I just stumbled upon your blog and wanted to say that I have really enjoyed reading your blog posts.

food demonstration

Sunny Ajani said...

i need the receipy of patra biryani

Pushpa Moorjani said...

Sunny Ajani

This Patra biryani that contains no rice., the patra leaves are fried and cooked with beef., you could have it with mutton or chicken too.
A dough is prepared with gram flour, chilis, garam masala and it is kneaded with tamarind water.
This dough is applied to Patra leaves.
It is then neatly rolled, folded on its sides and boiled for 1-1/2 hour.
It is then cut into round slices.
In another pot the meat is cooked with garam masala, red chilies, ginger, garlic and fenugreek leaves.
When the meat is tender, the boiled and round slices of patra are added to the meat.
Methi bhajiyas are crumbled and added to the dish to thicken the gravy.

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