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  Life   More Features  05 Jun 2017  A culinary pilgrimage

A culinary pilgrimage

Published : Jun 5, 2017, 1:17 am IST
Updated : Jun 5, 2017, 7:11 am IST

We scout the lanes of the busy, chaotic Mohammed Ali Road for our fix of iftaari food.

Minara Masjid (Photo: Debashish Dey)
 Minara Masjid (Photo: Debashish Dey)

The nondescript lanes leading towards Mohammed Ali Road may fool you into believing that it is just another day in the loud, bustling street. However, a few steps towards Minara Masjid will put your worries to sleep.

It’s that time of the year when Mohammed Ali Road turns into a Mecca for food lovers. As the sun sets during Ramzan, these otherwise-quiet streets turn into a one-stop shop for mouthwatering food.

The walk towards  Mohammed Ali Road, adjacent to Minara Masjid is a slow one, with mopeds and scooters dotting the lanes adding to the chaos. A stream of steady of visitors from the mosque adds to the delay in you reaching your destination. But as they said, good things come to those who wait.

The gates of the mosque house makeshift eateries that wrestle for space and attention with your regular, but heavyweight eateries, as they come alive for exactly 30 days.

One such hole in the wall, a four-by-four foot stall that has been standing ground for the past 15 years is Burhanpur Jalebi, which only sells mawa jalebi, which is best described as a crispier version of gulab jamun.

Mutton kebabs at Haji Tikka (Photo: Julie Sam)Mutton kebabs at Haji Tikka (Photo: Julie Sam)

“Originally from Madhya Pradesh, we sell at least 50 kg of these jalebis on a daily basis during Ramzan,” explains Mohammad Hussain, the owner. With time, a few temporary stalls have come up, and do try to eat into Hussain’s business but he believes that a few placards which have “Old Shop” written on them, will do the trick.

Another temporary stall, which is the star attraction in the street, is a tandoori kiosk right in front of Islahi Dawakhana. “The annual store is set up to serve the usual brain, kidney and liver but the key takeaway is the quail (buttail) and partridge (teetar),” explains Rushikesh Kulkarni, of Breakfree Journeys, who is our guide for the evening. After seating ourselves in no-frills plastic chairs, we begin to devour the tandoori quails as soon as it arrives. Meat pieces skewered onto tandoors in various colours are deep-fried or grilled depending on the customer orders for the evening. This meat, marinated with spices and generously sprinkled with chaat masala, is best mopped up with a roti or naan.

Tandoori quailsTandoori quails

These stalls also offer employment for workers like Babu bhai, who otherwise spends the rest of the year selling fruits in Govandi. “This makes for some extra source of income,” he explains.

Next, we decide to take a tour to Bohri Mohalla, which is an alternative for Ramzan fare, and as the name suggests, a place where Bohri Muslims gather to offer their evening prayers. “Bohri Mohalla has equally good food since it is stationed next to a mosque, but these aren’t make-shift stalls like the ones at  Mohammed Ali Road,” explains Rushikesh, as we tuck in for a bite at Haji Tikka. While we opted for the kakori sheekh kebab (mutton),  the place still remains famous for khiri kebab, (buffalo udders) which is threaded over skewers and cooked over charcoal. “It is quite possible that the ban has made it even more famous!” laughs the server at the store, suggestively.

For our final stop, we zero down on Tawakkal Sweets to indulge our sweet tooth. The place is famous for its fresh malpuas and phirnis. We are seated at one of the many tables, which have extensive illustrations of the desserts served there, as we decide to dig into phirni. The milk thickened with rice flour and flavoured with cardamom, almonds and pistachios, melts in the mouth, with a subtle aftertaste of saffron.

It’s barely 10 pm as we make our way out of Mohammed Ali Road, but we get caught into a wave of visitors, who are only getting started in the Mumbai street that never really sleeps during Ramzan.

Tags: ramzan, minara masjid, mouthwatering food, food lovers, mawa jalebi, burhanpur jalebi, mutton kebabs, iftaari food