Mumbai’s charm is truly mesmerising. At its heart is a bustling metropolis that is home to millions of people;many different cultures and religions co-exist in this charming city, which has led to the creation of an incredibly diverse cuisine.
From authentic restaurants to cosmopolitan cafes, the food of Mumbai will never disappoint. However, any Mumbai inhabitant will tell you that the very best dishes are those prepared and sold in the city’s street food stalls. Sellers, or hawkers as they are more commonly known, are often praised for being the ones who developed Mumbai’s staple food culture. It is Mumbai’s street food which brings people together: people of all classes, races and religions will sit and eat their snacks with one another.
A trip to Mumbai would be incomplete without sampling the following authentic dishes, all of which can be bought from one of the city’s thriving food stalls:
A hearty and filling street food snack, pavbhaji is a mix of vegetables (such as potatoes, cauliflower and onions) with tomatoes and a generous helping of butter. It is a spicy dish, given its kick through the addition of chillies. Warm bread (pav) smothered with butter on all sides is served alongside the preparation, as is a portion of chopped onion and a wedge of lemon.
Buy pavbhaji from a street stall and you’ll be able to choose from a range of additional toppings: dried-fruit, fresh fruit and cheese are the most popular options.
Vadapav is another bread-based street food that is popular among the people on Mumbai. It is a vegetarian snack, comprising of potato fritters which are sandwiched between a bun. The fritters are commonly given flavour through the use of ingredients such as chillies, turmeric and garlic.
The snack, often referred to as an ‘Indian burger,’ originates from the Maharashtra region, but has now gained popularity all over the country. Vadapav is often served with a spicy garlic chutney, and makes the ideal accompaniment to a cup of warming chai.
Panipuri is a Mumbai favourite and a snack you must try if you visit the city. Essentially, it is a hollow bread (puri) which is filled with flavoured water (pani), spices, tamarind chutney, potatoes, chickpeas and onion. The flavoured water comes in many different varieties, including nimbukapani (lemon juice in water), khajurkapani (dates mixed with water) and pudinekapani (mint mixed with water). Panpuri are small enough to be eaten whole and most street vendors will sell them to you one at a time.
Dosas are Mumbai’s answers to pancakes and are made from black lentils and rice batter. Dosas can be served folded or rolled up and stuffed full of ingredients such as potatoes, mixed vegetables, cheese, or even noodles. They are served smothered with ghee, with chutney to accompany.
If you’re tempted by these scrumptious Mumbai snacks, but aren’t planning to visit the city anytime soon, just book yourself a table at one of London’s fine dining Indian restaurants.