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Wednesday, January 26, 2011


Everyone who lives in Mumbai knows that sometimes, when hunger strikes, you just can’t beat a good meal served right off the street. Well, not literally, but you get my drift.

Last night, as my tummy rumbled and chanted “Feed me, feed me, feed, me!” I dug into my pockets and realised I was suffering from acute broke-ness, a common syndrome amongst students living away from home.

Just then, the smell of fresh, hot pav bhaji wafted into my nostrils, and I let myself be guided by my olfactory senses. I was led to a nondescript, makeshift little stand on the corner of Princess Street, near Metro Cinema, where a young lad was furiously mashing veggies to a pulp while drooling onlookers waited for their meal. Yes, this was the famous pav bhaji chap I’d heard so much about from all my friends.
I dug deeper into my pockets, found what looked like a fifty rupee note and decided to try this famous fellow out. 

So I placed my order, and within minutes, he began chopping and mashing more vegetables on his huge tavva as I joined the mass of drooling diners. The man threw in tomatoes, potatoes, chick peas et all, and finally topped it off with a generous dollop of butter.

Within minutes I was handed a plate of hot, steaming bhaji, closely followed by some hot, steaming pav (also liberally doused in butter).

I took my first bite: the bhaji was perfectly spiced, just the right consistency and delicious. The bread was warm, toasty and scrumptiously buttery. The entire experience, car horns, bicycles and pedestrians aside, was, in a word fantastic.

What I found most appealing about the place was the fact that it was so enterprising. Right alongside the pav bhaji wala was a dosa stand doing equally good business, as well as a soft drink stall. A complete meal, if you ask me. So the next time you’re in the vicinity and in the mood for a cheap meal, why not s-treat yourself to some roadside relish!

Written by Sharmeen Hussain

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Oh good heavens, it is a cafe !

A coffee shop offering Italian and Spanish cuisine amidst a buzzing bazaar famous for it's concoction of vegetable market, electronic goods, annual Ganapati pandals and flower shops. Hmmm,unlikely, is it not ?

Yes there is a coffee place called Le Cafe located in a nondescript part of Chembur. The best part is the peace and solitude the place offers to you.

Talking about food, 'Penne in Paprika' (cheddar cream sauce with vegetable) or 'Grilled Fish' with 'Chicken Stroganoff' would be the perfect meal for the famished.The breakfast menu lists an interesting combination of Spanish omelet, French toast and waffles, Egg and spice chicken and Burji.

A glass of 'Jacob Creek Red' or 'Asahai' beer to chill over a cricket match on the LCD would mean an ideal end  to a day for a working professional.

Last of all reading a newspaper with a Cappuccino on one side and a view of the non intervening bustling street on the other !

Monday, January 24, 2011

Gimme MM..ore

MM Mithaiwala (fondly called MM) situated right opposite Malad station has every snack that can be ticked off an epicurean Mumbaikar’s checklist. The stuffing-and-tangy-water-filled panipuris and the lassi with a generous dollop of cream are just two of the must-have items.
Spread across an extensive L-shaped area, along its length and breadth one can find panoply of foodstuffs behind glass shelves glowing under a yellow bulb. From chips, burnt just to the right crisp to salivating desserts, both -- the spice and sweet-loving foodies find common ground here. Teeming with people and bursting with activity, MM is easily one of the most recognizable eateries in the western suburbs. Step in, and the aromas of various delicacies are hard to miss. There are take-away snacks directly available over the counter and those that are whipped up on the spot and can be purchased by redeeming a coupon obtained at the cash counter.

The take-away snacks are presented in great style; meticulously placed on plates, garnished with the right amount of greens and a sprinkling of red. The yellow light above it adds colour to the temptation. After crossing the alley flanked by take-away eats, are counters dishing out various instantly made preparations. Even as one watches, a number of hands cut vegetables, toss them, arrange the puris, slice the bread, grate the cheese and garnish the dish – all like the images in a flipbook. Patrons ‘eat’ the food before eating it. Visually. It is this ability to engage customers that has earned this establishment a marked distinction.
Panipuri and lassi rank highest on the taste and popularity barometers. While the former has an unmistakable tang that stays on the tongue long after consuming it, the latter has just the right flavour and viscosity that titillate the taste buds. MM packs in every slice of the pie called Mumbai – vada pavs, kachoris, samosas, sandwiches, you name it and you will find it here. The dessert roster boasts of an enticing line-up of Bengali delicacies, pedhas, jalebis and malpuas. For all those who love to round up their culinary outings with an ice-cream, a dispenser readily tops brown checkered cones with icy scoops of various flavours. All items are priced between Rs.20 to Rs.200 which is easy on the pocket. Graduating from snacks to meals, is the adjoining restaurant Jalpan – an offshoot of MM. Barely a tenth of the whole area it serves light meals like chole bature and pav bhaji.
The interiors of MM though well-maintained cannot be deemed impressive. They can be summed up as modest. Huge images of foodstuffs adorn the walls and the ceiling is well lit. Long benches line the sides of this outlet. The unseated will have to make do with chest-high eating desks. But what it lacks cosmetically, it more than makes up for in its service. Food served here is fresh and hot. Hygiene and cleanliness find special emphasis here, what with food handlers wearing plastic gloves. The service is quick and with a smile. The place is crowded more often than not. It buzzes with ‘put less better’ demands of the younger generation and ‘add some more cream’ orders of the older generation.  
Its location plays a key role in its reputation. While the compulsive foodie will just not miss it, for the uninitiated the blaring megaphones and bright hoardings will do the trick.

Brownies, anyone?

Theobroma is a small but cosy patisserie, bakery and chocolaterie on Colaba causeway which at first glance seems unsubstantial. However, if one waits patiently to be seated, one will soon come to realise it is worth the wait.

Brownies are their specialty, and the varieties are displayed in glass shelves along the orange faux-brick wall. Of the close to 10 different types of Brownies, the Millionaire Brownie is by far the best pick; a chewy number, with soft buttery caramel sandwiched between a chocolate chip brownie and a layer of dark chocolate truffle. The Chocolate Overload Brownie comes in at a close second. Served with an optional dollop of vanilla ice cream, the COB, as it is fondly called by regular customers, has a crunchy crust and a gooey centre. 

The menu is divided into several categories catering to a variety of hunger levels. There’s the All Day Breakfast Menu, the Bread menu, the Beverage menu and the Croissant menu along with numerous others.

An interesting innovation in the Sandwicherie menu is the Chip Butty, which is Theobroma’s signature sandwich, although it looks more like a burger stuffed with salted fries, pungent garlic mayo and cheese and topped with chicken, bacon or egg. Be sure to carry tissues if ordering this one, because cheese is sure to fall out in massive globules no matter how neatly it is eaten.

The pricing is moderate, and won’t necessarily burn holes in pockets.

With another branch that has recently opened in Bandra, it is evident that Theobroma is expanding. With time, there will hopefully be enough outlets for one to be able to indulge in some gastronomic recklessness whenever the craving strikes.

Shri Krishna ki Jai ho !

Mumbai Vada never fails to fill your appetite. Then the samosa with chutney is like ‘Sone pe Suhaga’ and yes after that cutting chai is like that feeling ’ I couldn’t have asked for more’. 
This happens to you when you’ve worked the whole day and slogged like nobody’s business and then you stop at Shree Krishna Vada center next to Tilak Bridge (Dadar) and oh là là you praise the creator of this big, wide universe for his creation ‘The Vadawala’. 
This is how I felt a few days back when I feasted on three vadas at Shree Krishna center.
God save the Vadawalas ! Thanks to them that we manage to survive for a few hours.

Written by Ulka Gokhale