I begin with mixed bag of feelings as I write this post. On one hand, I am extremely delighted to be back to doing what i do best; share my love for food. Over the last 6 months personal commitments have kept me away from the blog, but I will now try and be a bit more regular in posting.
This blog post is about a wonderful journey into food so delicious, it made you want more. Not for the gluttony, but for the sheer poetry in its composure.Food that transcended every socio- cultural and socio- economic make up that the print and electronic media have worked so hard to create.
If you have been following Mumbai based bloggers chances are you would have read or seen posts either about Bohri Mohalla or Mohammed Ali Road where almost all of Mumbai meat loving crowd converge during the holy month of Ramzan. I had been meaning to go there for the last two or three years now; however, I some how could never make it. This year I made up my mind to go as soon as Ramzan began. Almost a now-or never mandate. Next step, forming a group. A few watsapp exchanges later the taskforce was ready. Nothing, not even the dreaded Mumbai rains could stop us. You could choose between Mohd. Ali Road and Bohri Mohalla. The atmosphere at the former is more carnival like and festive. And I must admit, there are more food options there. Bohri Mohalla is a bit quiter, like that cute little younger brother who tries to mimic his older brother and creates a niche of his own in doing so. For our trip, we chose the later.
So what did we eat there?
Our first stop was Haji Tikka.
I had done some asking before going and I was told to keep this place as a top priority. In any case tikka’s are a weak point for me. Truth be told you need not reach the place, the rustic aroma of meat being roasted on a bed of flames will guide you to it.
As easy as it seems, its not easy to grill meats; but this guy in the picture somehow managed to do it with the skill and precision of a kamikaze pilot. Giving it the just the right char and just doing enough to cook the meat.,Not more, not less. Precision was his mantra.
Our First order was the Achaari Chicken Tikka. Boneless Chicken pieces marinated in a pickle like spice. We tasted one bite and smiled. We knew we were off to a wonderful start. Honestly, I would have liked a little more achaari flavoring but then at the back of my mind I realised that the flavoring didnt over power the actual taste of the meat. Isnt that how it should be?
Next up was the Chicken Tangdi Kebab. They say its easy to get the simpler things wrong. What can you do wrong with a nice plump leg of chicken. A lot, if you dont cook and more importantly season it well. No such worries here. Plump, Juicy meat, grilled just right and that generous sprinkle of aamchur over the top. We smiled in generous approval. Again, very rustic and had a slight chew. No complaints though
What followed was orgasm on a plate. The Mutton Seekh kebab. Once again perfect case of cooking made simple and beautiful. Spicy, moist and almost cast spell on you like. We didnt plan for seconds, we called for them.
We must have the baida roti quipped someone in planning phase. So, we proceeded to India hotel. Apparently, run by a very Abraham look alike Haji Saahab. I so wanted to have a tete-a-tete with him but apparently he had left early. The good thing about India Hotel is you can sit in a small setup across the road, if there is some place that is.
You would have guessed the first order by now. The chicken baida roti. Chicken mince encased in a nice, thin almost paper like egg omlette, dunked in flour and fried. If this did get your mouth to water, i doubt anything will.
No meal is complete without rice, is it? We were recommended the Mutton Pulao, but we unanimously opted for chicken so as to go easy on our gluttonal sins. Dont be deceived by the simple and bland look the pulao takes on. Once you chew on the morsel of rice, the spiciness doesnt burst all in one go. Little by little, you taste the spices, each of them. And then that furious little kick of spice down your throat. Once again, seconds were called for without discussions.
By now, we could almost hear the warm Malpuas being done across the road crying for our affection and attention. A debate ensued if we needed to have ice creams first or the warmer desserts first. Finally, we headed to much heralded Tawakkal Sweets for our fill of their famous malpuas. Take a look at the minimal menu though
What followed was perhaps the only sour note in an other great evening of great eats. Kesar Phirni, not overtly sweet but somehow I didn’t like it. Though somehow, the rest of the gang liked the thing. Perhaps, its got to do with my cynicism when it comes to desserts.
Thakfully, what followed satisfied the soul so much, you could attain moksha and not regret it. It was the double ande ka malpua (Double egg malpua). This one was huge, greasy and chewy. Warm enough for you to wrap it round you and sleep on a dreary rainy night.
Our next pit stop was Taj Ice creams. Run by the very amicable Mr. Ice Creamwala. Don’t be mislead, its his actual name and not a moniker. Apparently, Bohris have surnames that match their profession. So then, whats so special about the regular chocolate, strawberry, custard apple flavoured ice creams. Two things actually. Mr. Ice creamwala tells me that this is the same recipe the family has been following for 125 years and secondly, they ice creams were churned by hand. Day after day. Taste them yourselves, you will know the difference.Sadly, some of the flavours were not available, Mr. Ice creamwala humbly apologised saying a few staff were unwell and hadnt reported to work.
Among the six of us, the damages were about INR.2000/- so you could do the math.
There was much more on the eating wishlist and the spirit was definately willing, however, the flesh was weak. As we wound up our food orgy, something caught my eye and attention. A notice by the civic authorities declaring the redevelopment of Bohri Mohalla. That explained the cranes and the bull dozers around there. My heart sank and from a moment of ecstatic highs, I went through depressing lows. I knew it could be another one or at max two years before civilisation takes over and history, tradition are buried under concrete only to make it to text books that the coming generations will not care about.
My earnest recommendation, go and take your kids along. If not for the food, for the atmosphere, the tradition and the memories. Let food live on like it has always done. By way of stories and word of mouth