Till recently, I was entirely convinced that Italy is the world's leading foodie destination. Sitting in a piazza, enjoying a simple honest pasta and stop the world for the length of an Espresso - how much more does it take to be happy? No doubt, to me, Italy was the holy grail of culinary delights. But man, I only knew the half.
The first time, I came to Mumbai, it cracked up my predisposition like a luscious Samosa. When I experienced the way food is enjoyed in this bustling mega city, I had to write my so-called passion for food off as a lukewarm relationship. Over there, people are so incredibly fascinated with their Indian food. A single man with a bicycle and a frying pan can easily attract dozens of customers if the dishes he gets around speak to the hearts of his customers. It really is a matter of taste over form. A local told me that he and his friends would drive for an hour through the thick traffic on their rattly scooters just to get a bite of a 'Baida Roti' at their trusted street food stand.
Since eating appears to be one of the greatest joys for the citizens of Mumbai, it makes perfect sense that you usually don't have just three meals a day but add countless spontaneous snacks from early morning till late in the night. The sheer variety of street food creations from all regions of India will humble your hunger. At every corner and in the most random places you will find someone with an improvised grill, preparing mouthwatering dishes of awesomeness.
From the cab drivers to the friends I made along the way, everyone I talked to had very strong views on where to get the best curry in town, the richest 'Masala' or even the crispiest 'Pani Puri'. Of course, none of that should be spoiled by the introduction of cutlery. It’s Indian food, man. Use your hands and feel it! Get a sense of its texture and have fun getting properly messed up to your elbows. Food in India is a true multi-sensual experience.
On my last visit, I dedicated most of my time to exploring the food scene and finding out how far my stomach would take me. Listed below are three of my favourite places for Indian food that I'd like to share with you:
Sadguru Sadan, Ground Floor, Chowpatty, Mumbai
Soam is highly recommended as the go-to joint if you have a craving for a 'Gujarati', or 'Marwari', kitchen. On first sight, there is not a lot of charm but in face of the overwhelming intensity of Mumbai, it felt good to come down to this clean no-frills interior. Besides, it allowed me to fully concentrate on the task at hand. I immediately fell for the 'nachni uttapam' and the 'bajra methi dhebras'. I ordered six dishes in total and soon felt fully at ease with the world.
Shree Thakker Bhojanalay
1st Floor, 31 Dadyseth Agiary Marg, Kalbadevi, Mumbai
This joint is appreciated as the best choice for 'vegetarian thali' in the whole of Mumbai. It has been around for decades and has with time become a landmark. However, it takes a bit of time to find it amidst the humming market stands.
Tulloch Road, Apollo Bunder, Colaba, Mumbai
This popular joint is fairly easy to find as it is located in close proximity to the Gate to India. More often than not, the place is highly populated with locals and backpackers alike, and thus you should plan for a 25 min wait at this down-to-earth epitome of a memorable meal. The 'Baida Roti' or 'Seekh Kebab' are incredibly tasty delicacies that will make you come back for more.