30 | Jan | 12

Richard Johnson

The Original Indian Take Away

After Sanjay Kumar’s recent eulogy to Kolkata street food, Maunika Gowardhan – the food writer and cook behind www.cookinacurry.co.uk – wanted to sing the praises of Mumbai

Mumbai is a heady mix of cultures and regional influences. The city’s food reflects that, with a wide variety of regional cuisine on offer including Parsi, Maharashtrian, Punjabi and Bengali. Cafes, stalls, vans and small quaint thali spaces all entice and cater to the locals, the busy office workers and the tourists, giving them a flavour of what all the fuss is about.

I was born in Mumbai and grew up eating a lot of what we call ‘street food’ as part of my daily fare. Breakfast was at a local street cafe, where my mother and I would queue up early to sample steaming poha or puffed rice – a typical breakfast snack cooked with onions, chillies and a squeeze of lime. With a cup of tea in tow this was (and still is) the perfect start to my day.

From buttery pav bhaji (mashed spiced vegetables served with fried bread) at Juhu Beach and kebabs and biryanis at Kakori House, to the melt-in-your-mouth mutton curries and the coastal food that’s pretty much part of my DNA – I have eaten it all and then some. It still excites me to go back to the restaurants and cafes that I visited when I was younger.

My favourite dishes include roasted butta (above) a charred corn on the cob smeared with a chilli, lime and salt mix, and kheema pav, a minced lamb dish cooked in spices, vinegar and chilli. Cooking these dishes passes on an essence of what Mumbai street food is all about. The flavours, aromas, spices and recipes from my favourite city bring a joy that will stay with me forever.