I had heard so much about the delectable Ramzan food at Bhendi Bazaar in Mumbai where every year many of my friends and family head to savour the sumptuous spread. But somehow a trip there has always eluded me. So when the Saifee Burhani Upliftment Trust(SBUT) Mumbai very generously invited me for a food walk, I decided not to miss the opportunity in spite of the downpour all day yesterday. Nothing was going to deter me today, I thought.
We were warmly greeted by the SBUT team at their office and shown around, after which we trooped to the streets armed with our umbrellas and folded trousers/ salwars.
Our first stop was the Haji Tikka house where the aroma of charcoal grilled meats permeated our nostrils and made us hungrier. Chicken tikka, drumsticks, mutton sheekhs, kaleji et al were on offer. I relished only the chicken tikka and drumsticks. Mouth- watering stuff which had unique flavours that one can never find in a restaurant. Standing under a tin roof, by the side of the road, chatting and munching hot tikkas, to the sound of the heavy rain, was a rustic and memorable experience. Equally fascinating was to spectacle of the guy effortlessly and expertly moulding the kebabs and grilling them a la minute.
Indian Hotel next door was the second halt. Mutton in all forms was served, Baida roti made of maida, eggs and mince, fried into crisp pieces. Lip smacking. Similar to the Bengali moghlai paratha, though not exactly. The naan chaap was more of a burger bun with the mutton chaap sandwiched in between. Tasty, but not extraordinary. The mutton roll cut into small pieces almost resembled a spring roll. Succulent pieces of mutton were rolled in a maida covering. The owner regaled us with anecdotes as we chomped on our food. About 180 kgs of mutton was used daily during Ramzan in the earlier days. He said chicken was a relatively new phenomenon as many people nowadays prefer chicken. But gourmets clearly come here to relish the meat delicacies. I could see that for myself as cars stopped and people kept entering the place.
Surti 12 Handi came next. Various parts of the goat – gurda (kidney), kaleji (liver), pichota (tail), paya (trotters), etc are stewed separately in different vessels with various masalas. The curries are then mixed together. Unfortunately, I decided to skip the paya, as this kind of organ meat does not appeal to my palate or senses. Served with large Indian breads called Qabooz, my friends were enjoying it.
We saved the best for the last. Tawakkal sweets was undoubtedly, the best place as far as I was concerned. Melt in the mouth mango phirni, eggless and egg malpuas with malai, mango malai were some of the sweets we gorged on. Rich and creamy, these were enough to make one pile on calories in a jiffy, but we were indulging in guilty pleasure. The person outside fried hot malpuas in a kadai, while another served phirni from packed trays arriving regularly from their workshop across.
The saancha or hand churned ice cream at Taj Ice cream, I had heard so much about was a dampner. A real let down. I found it too synthetic and rich. The sitaphal flavour supposedly his best selling ice cream was disappointing. The mango was a bit better. But nothing could erase the memory of the mango phirni.
The trip surpassed my expectations. My taste buds were satiated and after an enjoyable experience, we headed back home. This Ramzan would remain etched in my memory for a long time to come. Truly a haven for foodies, go there if you have not already.