The Makings Of A Modak In Mumbai




There’s a big brass dabba at the back of my kitchen cupboard, and only once a year, during Ganesh Chaturthi, it is brought out of storage, polished till it shines, and filled to the brim with my favourite festive treat: modak.

Ganpati’s favourite food is mine too, and his special day – on my insistence – is the only festival we celebrate in my home. It’s one of my family’s last links with my paternal grandmother, who, in her prime, insisted that we cook 21 dishes for the food-loving god. Over the years, we’ve whittled it down to a few foods that we absolutely love, and my grandmother’s version of modak, which is very different from the traditional Maharashtrian one, tops the list.

My recommended serving size is four modaks at a time, several times a day, until your pants don’t fit.

Like most of my grandmother’s inventions, our modak is an acquired taste, and I’ve learnt to not share them with snooty Maharashtrian friends. In all fairness, my mother refuses to measure her ingredients, and since we’re saving them for prasad we can’t taste as we cook, so we’re never really sure about the flavour or texture until we’ve finished the aarti the next day. It’s one of those foods that is as fun to make it is to eat, especially because of how spontaneous the recipe is.

Just chuck sugar and semolina into a hot pan, add in a packet of milk masala powder and hope for the best while it cools. Make a dough of maida and water with a little oil and salt, and knead it until it’s pliable and can be rolled out into thin sheets. Cut these sheets into circles with a cookie cutter or sharp steel vaati and carefully put a teaspoon-sized amount of the filling in the centre. Then, dip a finger in some water and run it around the edge of the circle to soften it and pinch the edges together when they’re still wet. When a dozen or so modaks are ready, toss them into a pan of hot oil and stir often so that they brown evenly. Even with lots of stirring, the heavy tops turn downward so you’re forced to dribble oil on the white bums of the modaks that are bobbing over the surface. Cool them on paper towels and toss them into an airtight box. Hope for the best, but be prepared to possibly chip a tooth or two in the coming days. My recommended serving size is four modaks at a time, several times a day, until your pants don’t fit.

Our modak might not qualify as traditional, but it definitely falls somewhere in the acceptable range. My friend Sneha Kale’s colleague loves the ubiquitous modak peda. “That’s not a modak!” we shout in unison. But that’s all Sneha and I can agree on. She dreads Ganesh Chaturthi because of her mother’s single-minded focus on cooking for the big day, and I secretly think I’m friends with the wrong Kale. Sneha’s mother used to make the outer covering of the modak with chapati atta and then deep fry it, which nobody in the family particularly enjoyed. A Konkan Maharashtrian friend then taught them to make the dough with rice flour and steam the modaks on a banana leaf, which is what the Kale family does now. They add poppy seeds to the traditional jaggery and grated coconut filling for an element of crunch.

It’s one of those foods that is as fun to make it is to eat, especially because of how spontaneous the recipe is.

My go-to person for food-related queries is my friend Srishti Godbole, a chef trained at Noma who recently made varan (Maharashtrian dal) tortellini for a pop-up in Denmark. She quickly defers to her mother for their family modak recipe. The Godboles live near Siddhivinayak Mandir, so Shubha aunty gives me the inside scoop on where to get the best ingredients in the area. Her modaks only turn out well if she uses the rice flour from Family Store, a small grocery shop in Dadar near Ideal Bookstore. Her second secret ingredient is a few teaspoons of milk that she adds to the water for the dough to soften it and prevent the modak from yellowing during the steaming process. She makes the traditional ukadiche (steamed) modak in a pressure cooker without the whistle, with a filling of equal parts jaggery and freshly grated coconut. It’s a recipe that her grandmother passed down to her, and she hopes Srishti will keep the tradition alive.

In Thane, my friend Mitali Halbe’s mother, Manjiri, is preparing for a Ganpati pooja and lunch for 20 guests. Manjiri aunty says fried modaks are easy to make in large quantities, which is why families prefer them, but ukadiche modak need to be handled individually and with great care. She has already placed an order for ukadiche modak and a traditional Maharashtrian meal of dalimbi usal, batata bhaji, mattha, alu fatfata, tondli, koshimbir, and masale bhaat at Gokhle Uphar Gruh in Thane East. Needless to say, the conversation only ends after I secure an invitation to lunch.

My recommendations for pattoli in Matunga:

Idli House, 462 Ram Bhavan, Ambedkar Road, Maheshwari Udyan, Kings Circle, Matunga, Mumbai 400 019. Tel: 022 2401 2422

Anand Bhavan (also delivers via Swiggy), 461/A, Ram Niwas, King’s Circle Flyover, Matunga (e), Mumbai 400 019. Tel: 2401 5745

Shubha Godbole’s recommendations for modaks in Dadar:

Family Store (for rice flour if you’re making modak at home), Chhabildas Road, Dadar (w), Mumbai 400 028. Tel: 022 2430 6018

Godbole Stores (no relation to Shubha aunty), Shop 2, Samruddhi Heights, DL Vaidya Road, Bhawani Sarkar, Dadar (w), Mumbai 400 028. Tel: 022 2437 2294

Aaswad (you get modaks and karanjis here through the year, but they only use fresh grated coconut during Ganesh Chaturthi), 61, Sadanand, Opposite Amar Hind Mandal, Gokhale Road (North), Dadar (w), Mumbai 400 028. Tel: 022 2445 1971

Manjiri Halbe’s recommendations for modaks in Thane:

Gokhle Uphar Gruh, Krishna Nivas, Gokhale Road, Near Thane Healthcare, Naupada, Thane (w) 400 602. Tel: 022 2530 3021

Shraddha Farsan Mart, Ghantali Devi Mandir Road, Next to Sadguru Auto, Naupada, Thane (w) 400 602. Tel: 022 2539 5351

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A Vegetarian’s Guide To Maharashtrian Restaurants In Dadar

dadar restaurants



Dadar is perhaps best known for the sea of bodies that flow in and out of its train station daily, even inspiring one-line poems such as “Darr ke aage jeet hai, Dadar ke aage seat hai, but for me, Dadar is all about the food. The busy marketplace in Dadar West, known for its aromatic flower stalls and colourful sari shops, is also peppered with small Maharashtrian restaurants, some of which have been serving quick vegetarian snacks to the hordes of hungry travellers for over a century. If you’re not planning to shop, visit on a Monday when the market is closed, so you can enjoy a plate of missal pav or a pair of batata vadas in relative solitude.

Mama Kane

Mama Kane is a no-frills eatery just outside Dadar Station. It’s always busy, which means that the fried food is always hot. Try the aluvadi (patra), the sabudana vada, or the dahi vada with a glass of kokum sharbat. The missal is as authentic as it gets – served with an oily, guilt-inducing potato mixture. They’ve retained their vintage charm while introducing newer dishes like the aloo vada sambar, a pair of potato vadas dunked in a bowl of sambar and served with pav, apparently created for their growing South Indian clientele.

Mama Kane, 222, Smruti Kunj, Senapati Bapat Marg, Dadar (w), Mumbai 400 028. Phone: 022 2422 1161

Panshikar and Co.

I make a trip to Panshikar every year to buy my father a tub of shrikhand for his birthday. With a hint of saffron and the perfect amount of sourness to the curd, it pairs perfectly with the rajgira puris, which are thicker and crunchier than regular puris. The farsaan in the missal is too delicate and disintegrates into mush, so try the faraali missal (missal made with peanuts and potato salli) instead, the mug bhaji (mung bean fritters) or the vada usal (a pair of batata vadas dunked in missal rassa) if you’re feeling adventurous.

Panshikar & Co., Gananath Building, Senapati Bapat Marg, Lokmanya Tilak Colony, Dadar (w), Mumbai 400 028. Phone: 022 2422 9526

Tambe Arogya Bhawan

The gulpoli (crunchy roti stuffed with jaggery and sesame seeds) sold here is the Maharashtrian answer to khakra – I once met a man who was here to pack Tambe gulpoli for a trek. The missal has more sprouts than potato (a welcome change) and deliciously spiced rassa with unlimited refills but not enough farsaan on top. The most memorable flavour is that of the garlicky chutney made with red chilli and coconut that’s served alongside the batata wada and the thalipith.

Tambe Arogya Bhavan, NC Kelkar Road, Dadar (w), Mumbai 400 028. Phone: 022 2432 5611

Shree Krishna Batatawada

The biggest faux pas you can make here is to ask for a pav with the batata vada: Shree Krishna prides itself on its vada and doesn’t believe in dampening the flavours – lots of ginger and curry leaves that pack a punch – with a pav. It’s a takeaway joint, so I like to grab a crunchy dal vada or kothimbir wadi and browse through the bookstores nearby. Pro tip: keep an eye on the vat of oil and order what comes out of it first – none of the stuff tastes particularly good when cold.

Shree Krishna Batatawada, Radha Nivas, Chhabildas Road, Dadar (w), Mumbai 400 028 Phone: 022 2430 7416

Prakash Shakahari Upahar Kendra

Prakash is one of those old restaurants that has achieved legendary status over the years. What it lacks in service and ambiance, it makes up for with its flavours. The missal here is slightly sweet, topped with grated coconut, and ideal for those who prefer mild flavours. The piyush (sweetened yoghurt drink) is has contributed to Prakash’s fame but is probably enjoyed best only by those with a really sweet tooth. I’d rather stick to the puri bhaji and take home some pohe chiwada and dink ladu (fenugreek aadoo).

Prakash Shakahari Upahar Kendra, 9/10, Horizon Building, Gokhale Road North, Dadar (w), Mumbai 400 028. Phone: 022 2445 6095


Aaswad is perhaps best known for its missal pav. Unlike most missal, theirs is so mild it feels censored for the unfamiliar tongue, but the generous bed of potato bhaji on which it is served makes it a filling snack. Other interesting dishes here are the omelette (chickpea flour, no eggs) served with toast and the thalipith served with white butter. Wash it all down with the fresh grape juice, which can be made (and tastes much better) without sugar. The hidden gem on the menu is the varan bhat (dal rice with ghee and jaggery), comfort food for most Maharashtrians, best eaten along with the crunchy kurdai (fermented papad). For dessert, try the puran poli ice cream or malai ice cream topped with a cardamom-laced jaggery sauce.

Aaswad, 61, Sadanand, Opposite Amar Hind Mandal, Gokhale Road (North), Opp. Chandrika Automobiles, Dadar (w), Mumbai 400 028. Phone: 022 2445 1871

Gypsy Corner

Gypsy Corner is a great place to visit for a home-style Maharashtrian meal. Try the pitla bhakri thecha (a besan sabji, roti, and dry, fiery chutney) and aamti bhaat toop (spiced dal rice with ghee) for a full meal. The restaurant also offers daily specials such as surnache kabab (yam), matarchi karanji (fried dumplings stuffed with green peas), and kaju mutter ussal (cashew and green peas).

Gypsy Corner, 120, Keluskar Road, Dadar (w), Mumbai 400 028. Phone: 097570 73213

Feature photograph copyright RealityImages –

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Your Guide To Food And Drink For A Mumbai Summer



Across the city, the rising mercury has people turning to their kitchens to fire up dishes that help combat the high heat and humidity. The focus is on food that is healthy, tasty, and helps cool you down. Mangoes find mention in many recipes, enjoyed both raw and ripe and added to curries or drinks. Some drinks cool down the system and provide comfort on a hot day.

We speak to people from different communities for their favourite seasonal summer treats.


Kokum Sherbet

In author Tara Deshpande Tennebaum’s childhood home in Belgaum, kokum sherbet was an important summer tradition. “In Saraswat cooking,” she says, “kokum is used in a lot of dishes – fish curries, amti, solachi kadhi – and it is a staple in the Konkani kitchen.” The kokum sherbet is made by boiling dried kokum with water and adding sugar till the liquid gains a syrupy texture. Powdered cumin and black rock salt can be added for variety.

“My grandmother made bottles of this,” says Tara, “and my sister and I, accompanied by our dog, would hop from house to house in Belgaum gifting them to her friends. In return, they gave us their homemade summer specialities like Coorgi bitter orange (kaipuli) squash, sour mango pickle, or Goan dried seafood pickle.”

Try kokum sherbet: Aaswad, 61, Sadanand, Opp. Amar Hind Mandal, Gokhale Road, Opposite Chandrika Automobiles, Dadar (w), Mumbai 400 028, or Prakash Shakahari Uphar Kendra, 9/10, Horizon Building, Gokhale Road North, Dadar (w), Mumbai 400 028
Where to buy kokum: Parlekar Masalas Supermarket, Shop 15/16, Vanmalidas Compound, 53-a, Tejpal Road, Vile Parle (e), Mumbai 400 057 or from Delight Foods.

Tok Dal

“This typical Bengali dish is a sweet and tangy thin masoor dal made with green mango,” says home chef Madhumita Pyne. This dal is eaten with rice and fried vegetables like alu bhaja during the summer because it cools down the body.

The dal can be made with yellow split peas too. The key to making it is choosing the right mango – raw, not super sweet, and green in colour. “You want the tanginess of the mango to shine,” says Madhumita, “and it needs to hold its shape after cooking. I’ve always liked the taste of green mango. If there was no tok dal on the table, I would mix green mango chutney with plan dal to get that tangy flavour.”

Where to eat/buy: Bijoli Grill, Hakone Bumpers & Rides, Opp Nirvana Park, Hirandandani Powai, Mumbai 400 076 and Just Bengal, Divyam Heights, Gilbert Hill Road, Gaondevi Dongri, Andheri (w), Mumbai 400 047 

Tok Dal

Bilimbi juice

The Pathare Prabhu community uses bilimbi (or bilimba) in many dishes including sheer, chutney, jam, or juice. Bilimbi, also called cucumber tree or tree sorrel, is a pickle-shaped fruit known for its astringency and short shelf-life.

“The Pathare Prabhus were early settlers and used to live in bungalows across Bombay,” says Sunetra Sil Vijaykar, a culinary expert who runs a pop-up kitchen called Dine With Vijaykars in Jogeshwari. “They would grow fruit like amla, nimbu, bilimba, mango and make sherbets out of them. In time, these juices became part of the tradition.”

Bilimbi juice is tangy and refreshing. To make the juice, Vijaykar suggests boiling the bilimbi in water with jaggery and a little salt. Transfer this to a mixer and blend until it becomes a pulp; sieve and the concentrate is ready. “It is rare to find a bilimbi tree in Mumbai,” she says, “but for bulk orders, we go to a veggie market on Mira Road.”

Where to buy: Mira Road vegetable market
Where to find bilimbi juice: Dine With Vijaykars pop-up meals at their Jogeshwari home sometimes offer bilimbi sherbet or chutney.

Kuhireen Khichdi

The lunch table at a Sindhi home in summer is usually laden with bhugha chaanwran (rice cooked with caramelised onions), taryal patata (shallow fried potatoes spiced with chilli powder, coriander and turmeric), and mango. In food blogger Alka Keswani’s home, another much-loved summer dish is patri khichdeen (diluted/loose khichdi).

“Sindhi khichdi is simple,” says Alka. “You add green cardamom and black peppercorns to ghee, then soaked rice, salt, turmeric, and water and cook this till soft. It is then mashed with a wooden whisker and consistency is adjusted to semi-solid.”

Khichdi is chosen because it is easy to digest and not heavy on spices. This is eaten with a simple turi (smooth gourd) subzi, karela basar (bitter gourds with onions), singhi tamate mein (drumsticks in tomato gravy), and kaat (salted sundried karela peels that are flash fried).

Kuhireen khichdi is easy to make. Keswani’s blog has more details.

Ambe Poli

“[Ambe poli] is very popular in my family,” says Nandita Godbole, a cookbook and fiction author from Mumbai now living in Atlanta. “I can trace it back to a mention made by my great-grandfather in his book, about travelling with it from Konkan to Alibaug at the turn of the century. We [the Konkanasth Brahmin community] make a version of it each year.”

Ambe Poli is a sweet and tart sun-dried mango leather made with mango pulp and spices. It is made in the summer to take advantage of the summer heat, since it is dried outdoors or in the sun. Nandita’s family makes it a few different ways – some with a pinch of soonth, others with red chilli powder, one with cardamom, another with kesar and another, more recent version with dried fruits. The ones with added flavours, especially with dried fruits, are more decadent. The kesar one is Nandita’s favourite.

“These are eaten during summer and often just as the monsoons start,” she says, “made using the ripe mangoes. This is the time when body defences are weak. Dried ginger and saffron are warming; a pinch of dried ginger is good for digestion and makes the fruit leather spicy. It is good for an after-meal snack.”

Where to eat/buy: Ladoo Samrat, Shop No.: 1-2, Habib Terrace, Lalbaug, Dr Ambedkar Road, Parel, Mumbai 400 012 or Ramanlal Vithaldas & Co outlets

Panna Pakodi

“My chachi’s summer treat was panna pakodi,” says columnist and curator Anoothi Vishal. “We would eat this with arhar ki dal cooked with raw mango, parwal alu, and aamchur. It was a comforting summer dish.” Panna pakodi is essentially a side dish consisting of moong dal pakodas served in an aam panna (yes, the drink).

“You make the panna the same way as you would otherwise,” she says, “except it isn’t diluted as much, and then add in crispy pakodi. You get a thin soup-like dish, which can be mixed with rice and eaten.”

In Kayasth homes, the aam panna is made by using very raw and tender mangoes and flavoured with cumin, black salt, and mint.

Where to eat: You can dive into aam panna at Revival Restaurant, 39-B, Chowpatty Seaface, Chowpatty, Girgaum, Mumbai 400 007; Punjab Grill outlets, or 29 – Twenty Nine Address: 11, Padma Nagar, Main Link Road, Near Vijaya Bank, Link Road, Malad (w), Mumbai 400 064. It isn’t panna pakodi but a close cousin – and one you won’t regret eating.


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Visit Prakash Shakahari Upahar Kendra For Real Maharashtrian Food


Prakash Shakahari Upahar Kendra


Prakash Shakahari Upahar Kendra in Dadar is an authentic, vegetarian Maharashtrian restaurant with a simple, unassuming menu and quick service. It serves snacks such as misal and sabudana puri and desserts such as shira and dudhi halwa.

Prakash Shakahari Upahar Kendra, 9/10, Horizon Building, Gokhale Road North, Dadar (w), Mumbai 400 028. Phone: 022 2445 6095


The queue spills onto Gokhale Road
For Dadar’s finest eating-house
This veg Marathi food abode
All but resounds with slurps and wows.

For a plate of Kothimbir Vadi
I will travel from the ’burbs
On Thalipeeth and Sol Kadhi
Orders, let there be no curbs.

Pohe on Sunday’s always nice
When you wake from your cocoon
Is that a mere lemon slice
Or a sliver of the moon?

Alu Vadi, Prakash’s pride
(Patra – the Gujjus call it)
Is stacked and rolled and steamed and fried
And light upon the wallet.

The Sa-boo-daa-na vada calls
For its own verse in this ditty
There are no better sago balls (!)
On either side of the Mithi.

The Misal has earned my ballot
Just hits the spot and how!
Won’t burn the skin of your palate
There is no need for pao.

’Bout Piyush, The Highly Rated
I will hear no opprobrium
The drinker’s – lo! – sedated
Is that nutmeg, or opium?

Wash it all down with a glass of cool
Sharbat: Awla or Kokum
Order seconds of what made you drool
’Cause calories are hokum!

Feature photograph copyright espies –


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Café 792 Is A Quiet Café In A Parsi Colony

cafe 792 dadar parsi colony


Café 792 is located is Dadar Parsi Colony. It is a quiet, small eatery that serves an assortment of dishes such as chicken sali boti, Sindhi curry with rice, and Pork vindaloo in addition to sandwiches, quiche, patties, burgers, and dessert.

Café 792, 792, Dina Manzil (Outhouse), Jame Jamshed Road, Parsi Colony, Dadar (e), Mumbai 400 014. Phone: 022 2414 0792


Café 792 is run by Parsis in a Parsi colony, but it isn’t a Parsi café.

Named after the number of the building it is housed in, 792 does betray a few Parsi touches: it’s location opposite the bust of Mancherji Joshi (creator of Five Gardens), a poster of Bachi Karkaria’s In Hot Blood on the wall, and packets of murambo for you to take home.

The outhouse of Dina Manzil was adroitly and adorably converted into a tiny eatery; even the water-pump room was painted over with its logo. Concrete footprints over rubble-strewn ground lead to saloon doors at the back. The Parsi manager lets me read the menu twice, then points at and names every dish showing off in the counter.

Patties, quiches, and croissants are ready-to-eat; sandwiches and wraps are assembled in a homely kitchen. Run your eyes over the day’s Parsi offerings such as chicken farcha and papeta ma marghi. While you wait for your order, go back out and occupy a wickerwork chair designed for kindergarten bottoms or set up camp at one of the bright red trestle tables under a modest awning. A jam-jar bursting with sprigs of fresh flowers adorns every table.

I am happy to report that there is no air-conditioning, no music, and no Wi-Fi. Here is an oasis in which to read a book, steep in thought, converse for hours, share an apple pie, glance at the minute green patch, and go on reading as the garden lights come on.

Feature photo by Suruchi Maira
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Acharekar’s Malvan Katta Is Worth The Queues

acharekar's malvan katta seafood dadar


Malvan Katta’s queues are testimony to the Dadar restaurant’s expertise with native seafood staples like the mandeli and Bombay Duck. But besides the delectable fried fish, there’s also wade, tisrya masala and a perfect sol kadi to set your tongue singing.

Acharekar’s Malvan Katta, Ground Floor, Janaki Nivas, DL Vaidya Path, Dadar (w), Mumbai 400 028. Phone: 022 2421 6923


Acharekar’s Malvan Katta was not built for the crowds that besiege it on weekends, when a long, snaking line winds its way round the block, tummies are inevitably assailed by pangs of hunger, and tempers fly in consequence. And yet, it will be worth the wait. Let me explain why.

I could tell you about its rosy sol kadi, humming with the tang of kokum. Or I could tell you about the wade, fried to a formidable crunch. I could even tell you about the tisrya masala, sunk deep into their vivid, coconut-laced gravy.

But this story is really all about the fish. Specifically, fried fish. Specifically fish gilded with a crust of cornflake-crispness. Specifically, the bombil or Bombay duck, that has been dredged through a mountain of semolina and fried to a golden crackle that conceals a pliant, wobbly, belly within. The bombil comes in a thali, with a stack of chapatis and a ruddy-hued, assertively-spiced rasa to dip them into.

An honourable mention must be made of the mandeli fry, tiny fish fried until they reach the point of shattering crispness, meant to be eaten whole, brittle bones and all. It’s perfect drinking food, but alas Acharekar’s Malvan Kutta offers no inebriating accompaniments! The food is enough.
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A Parsi Girl’s Guide To Parsi Food In Mumbai


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Some days draw me into the world of restaurants and cafés, tempting my tongue with the intriguing and the unaccustomed. Others though, are meant to be spent in the company of familiar Parsi flavours, a simple dhun dar chawal or a khichdi kheemo, comforting, frugal and unapologetic. This story points to these days. The shops and eateries I mention below are all unshowy and unpretentious, but the food is always compelling. They are my home away from home.


RTI (Ratan Tata Institute) outlets are sprinkled through the city, but the one I keep returning to is the RTI café cloistered within the gardens of the Parsee General Hospital. This is where friends and relatives of incarcerated patients come to tranquillise the winnowing flail of hunger that assails them at mealtimes. On the menu – hearty Parsi cooking like dhansak and curry chawal. On the shelves – a catalogue of Parsi snacks like bhakra (a sort of tea-time cakelet), chocolate rum balls, chapat (pancakes fattened with a dense coconut stuffing) and cheese straws.

The B.D. Petit Parsee General Hospital, Bomanji Petit Marg, Cumballa Hill, Mumbai 400 036


Dhansak is the butter chicken of Parsi food, the dish that inexplicably flies the pennant of Parsi cooking. A delicious dish forsooth but, to my mind, overrated. I choose the sali boti instead – dark, sticky hanks of meat, covered with a pelt of crisp-fried potato sali. But whichever road you choose to walk down, make sure it ends at Paradise. By way of décor, Paradise is restrained, even spartan; its service is desultory, at best. Go anyway. The food has the unmistakeable stamp of good, honest home cooking.

Sind Chambers, Shahid Bhagat Singh Marg, Colaba, Mumbai 400 005. Phone: 022 2283 2874

paradise bombay parsi food

Parsi Dairy Farm

What draws me to PDF’s dazzling blue shop-front is the corpulent canine usually lolling outside. I am lured within by its slabs of malai kulfi. And the mawa ni boi, the fish-shaped sweet shimmering in its silver leaf skin. And tangled pats of snowy sutarfeni. And ghee fashioned from buffalo milk, and white butter. The list goes on…

261-63, Princess Street, Marine Lines Flyover, Marine Lines (e), Kalbadevi, Mumbai 400 002. Phone: 022 6775 2222

Meher Cold Drink House

Included for the frivolous reason that its name matches mine. Meher Cold Drink House has settled very comfortably into old age and has dedicated itself to the twin virtues of lassi (sweet and salted and most refreshing) and sweet dahi, set in little tea glasses.

5, Ground Floor, Mackawee Mansion, 7, Rustom Sidhwa Marg, Borabazar Precinct, Ballard Estate, Mumbai 400 001. Phone: 022 2266 0444

parsi food bombay meher cold drinks

Ideal Corner

It’s a bit of a thrill to stumble upon this quaint little cafe in the tangled lanes of Fort. Ideal serves the usual suspects of Parsi food, but on Tuesdays they make kharoo gosh, a chunky stew of mutton and potatoes, flanked with rotli. And on Wednesday there is railway mutton.

12/F/G Hornby View, Gunbow Street, Fort, Mumbai 400 001. Phone: 022 2262 1930

Paris Bakery

Don’t be dissuaded by Paris Bakery’s unassuming exterior. It is here that you will find the simple troika of flour, butter and water transform into the khari biscuit, the Bakery’s finest offering. Light as a cloud, with a sunny-coloured glaze, the khari biscuit is meant to be submerged in hot chai at tea-time. Second best are the stubby little lumps of batasa biscuits, spiked with caraway seeds.

278, Dr Cawasji Hormusji Street, Our Lady Of Dolours Church Lane, Marine Lines, Mumbai 400 002. Phone: 022 2208 6619

parsi food bombay paris bakery

Jimmy Boy

Full disclosure: I’ve eaten here only once, a long while ago, but reliable sources have told me that this is where one goes to get lagan nu bhonu i.e. the much-vaunted wedding spread of pulao-dar, patra-ni-macchi, marghi-na-farcha (fried chicken skirted by lacy batter), saria wafers, achaar and lagan-nu-custard. If I go again though, I’d order the dhun dal and tareli macchi, which is nothing but yellow dal and rice served with fish that has been fried until its skin blisters.

11, Vikas Building, Bank Street, Near Horniman Circle, Fort, Mumbai 400 001. Phone: 022 2270 0880


This little store has been sliced into two, one half given over to the sale of sapat (slippers), topis and other Parsi worthies. The other half is devoted to pickles and pastries like the khajoor ni ghori (pastries infiltrated by date and jaggery, then fried until crunch gives way to tender); khaman na ladoo (velvety balls of dough with bellies of sweetened coconut) and patrel (colocasia leaf and gram flour furled together, then fried or roasted).

218, Chandra Mahal, Dr. C.H. Street, Marine Lines, Mumbai 400 002

Parsi Food Trail_007

Royal Sweets

Go to Royal Sweets for its crisp whorls of jalebi. Stay for its malai na khaja, slender panes of pastry stuffed with cream and tinged with nuts. Come home with the fudgy, coconutty kopra pak.

L.T. Market, Opposite Novelty Cinema, Grant Road (e), Mumbai 400 007


This is one I would have left out since I have already written about PAC for The City Story, but it has crept back into this story, by sole virtue of its chicken pattice: a flaky, crumbly, golden-brown carapace that shields its creamy chicken depths. During the winter, PAC also stocks badam pak (a sort of savoury almond fudge) and vasanu (a spicy-savoury breakfast fudge, rumoured to impart strength on wintry mornings).

292 Shastri Hall, Shop No. 3, Nana Chowk, Tardeo Road, Mumbai 400 007

parsi food bombay pac samosas chicken pattice

Photo by mitrs3 –

Dadar Perviz Hall

At Dadar Parsi Youth Assembly’s Snack Centre, the best thing is the chutney egg, a dish of potato and green chutney folded round a boiled egg, and deep-fried to a crisp. Dar ni pori (discs of pastry, plumped with sweetened dal) comes a close second.

803-D, Dr Baba Saheb Ambedkar Road, Parsee Colony, Dadar, Mumbai 400 014. Phone: 022 2412 9437

Bonus: Honourable mentions must be made of Motilal Masalawala and Belgaum Gheewala, purveyors of all Parsi masalas, pickles and other condiments. This is where Parsis go to buy the Parsi dhana jeera, Parsi sambhar masala, dhansak masala, gharab nu achar (pickled fish roe), tarapori patio (Bombay duck pickle) and bafenu (an entire Alphonso mango submerged in a mustardy masala).

Motilal Masalawala, 405 Grant Road, Mumbai 400 007. Phone: 022 2373 4306

Belgaum Gheewala, N. Bharucha Marg, Nana Chowk, Grant Road, Mumbai 400 007

parsi food bombay pickles
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Gaurav Kapur’s Guide To Weekend Cricket In Mumbai


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Gaurav Kapur is an actor, television personality and self-confessed cricket freak. He’s the presenter (and additional vowels) in Extraaa Innings T20, a talk show dedicated to pre and post-match analysis of the Indian Premier League telecasts. Gaurav tells us everything we need to know about weekend cricket in Mumbai.

Weekend Cricket Guide_005

For the super enthusiastic, stadium loving cricket freak

Mumbai is a cricket city. Spaces are carved out in parking lots, building driveways, and it wouldn’t be strange to see a Sunday gully cricket game on a main road. You can catch hundreds of amateur cricketers playing on the road and amongst traffic, but there are many proper stadiums to appreciate the sport in Mumbai as well.

• DY Patil is a great sports facility, but the fact that it is half way to Pune can be a dampener.
• The Wankhede is definitely the most energetic (or noisiest, depending on how old you feel), but for an international fixture or an IPL game it can be a chore to line up along Marine Drive before you eventually get in.
• I would recommend CCI (Brabourne Stadium) for the best viewing experience. Especially if you can smooth talk a member to take you in. Then you’re aboard the old-school express, with food and drink on the balcony while you watch the cricket. No big ticket matches here, but you can still see quite a few engaging games. This is a cricket-watching experience from the colonial era.

DY Patil Sports Stadium, Sion-Panvel Express Highway, Nerul, Navi Mumbai 400 706.

Wankhede Stadium, D Road, Churchgate, Mumbai 400 020.

Brabourne Stadium, The Cricket Club of India, Dinshaw Vacha Road, Churchgate, Mumbai 400 020.

The Cricket Club of India (CCI) by Herry Lawford is licensed under CC BY 2.0

The Cricket Club of India (CCI) by Herry Lawford is licensed under CC BY 2.0

For a lazy afternoon spent people watching (as well as cricket watching)

Shivaji Park is considered the cradle of Bombay cricket (from the pre Mumbai era). Many modern day greats have learned their skills on the hallowed turf of this historic ground. Sitting atop the low boundary wall trying to spot the next Gavaskar or Tendulkar is still heaps of fun. There’s an idli vendor on a cycle who used to park himself along that wall, and that chutney was good enough to use as a face pack. If he’s still there, apply it on your face, stretch out on the wall, soak up the sun and avoid the boundary balls. Or you could just eat the idli and watch the cricket if you don’t want to get as immersive an experience as me.

Shivaji Park, Dadar (w), Mumbai 400 028.

Weekend Cricket Guide_007

Photograph by Suruchi Maira

For the pub lovers

There’s a real shortage of good sports bars in the city. There used to be a fair sprinkling a few years ago: the screens, the pool tables, the familiar faces. But now a few beers and your buddies in someone’s TV room has become “my local”. Also, unless it’s a T20 game, sitting in a bar for a full day (or five) is not really encouraged (by friends and family).

For the stalkers hoping to catch a glimpse of their favourite cricketers, security/high walls/barbwire notwithstanding

The international cricketers are on the road for most of the year, but the MCA club in BKC has the most up to date practice facilities favoured by the modern lot. When in the city, the local Indian cricketers are to be found here. The walls are high, the security is tight. But that shouldn’t stop you.
Disclaimer: if you get caught, the CIA and I will deny any knowledge of your existence. Godspeed.

Mumbai Cricket Association, RG-2, G-Block, Bandra Kurla Complex, Mumbai 400 051.

For the visitor aching to play a spot of cricket

A few years ago, I had filmed a small feature for CNN in which I took the crew to the cricket grounds of Mumbai in the monsoon. We wanted to capture the love for cricket this city has always had. Where even the monsoons and knee-high grass can’t stop cricket games. In fact, the Kanga League is the only wet weather cricket tournament in the world and has been on for almost 70 years. Come rain or shine, there’s always some cricket being played in the city. So there is plenty to watch, but you can’t just join a game willy-nilly. With so many clubs and small leagues competing for space with real-estate builders, you might need to carry a club to force your way into a game (aforementioned disclaimer applies). There are a few indoor simulators that can be a bit of fun. They’re not a patch on the real deal like Azad Maidan, but as far as synthetic experiences go, this virtual game is a happy quick fix.


Another spot I quite enjoy is the stretch of gymkhana grounds running along Marine Drive. Some are used for weddings these days, but on a weekend you could see four or five games happening along that half kilometre stretch. Each major religion seems to have their own gymkhana, but the cricketers and viewers needn’t have any religious affiliation. Cricket is the principle religion in these parts, one that this entire city is on the same page about.

Marine Drive Gymkhanas, Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose Road, Mumbai 400 002.

Weekend Cricket Guide_002

Photo by Anne-Mette Jensen is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0


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five gardens dadar mumbai

At Five Gardens, Everybody Knows Your Name

five gardens dadar mumbai



My parents moved to the area locally known as Five Gardens, when I was six months old. Located in Matunga or Dadar Parsi Colony (the lines are blurred), Five Gardens, as the name suggests, is a cluster of five gardens nestled just off the main road that connects CST to King’s Circle and goes on to Sion and Chembur.

It’s the kind of place every kid in Mumbai deserves to grow up in, and I was one of those kids until I moved away a year ago. Here everybody knows your name, whose kid you are, where you live. So while you’re safely ensconced in this cocoon away from the big bad world, there is one downside – if you do something bad, everyone and their neighbour will know about it in no time. And yet, not one person here will seem to mind that, because Five Gardens gives you more than it takes from you.

five gardens dadar mumbai

During the 30 years I lived there, I have jogged around the gardens’ periphery alongside countless aunties and uncles out on their morning walk. I have ambled along its wide, tree-lined avenues on sultry afternoons and marvelled at the architecture. I have sat on the railings and people-watched for hours and not been bored once. I have come across laughter clubs, dance troupes, union worker meetings, workout groups, lovers who don’t give a damn about privacy, all of whom have made Five Gardens their home. I have made countless friends and lost an equal number. I have sat on swings and dreamt of touching the sky, and in my repeated failed attempts have skinned my knees often. I have attended, on certain lucky occasions, parties in the park that last from midnight until dawn, ending in a raucous breakfast at the corner Udipi joint.

five gardens dadar mumbai

And while I do agree that my nostalgia-coloured glasses may make all my memories seem lovelier than reality was, it is true that stepping into Five Gardens is like taking a step back in time. Buildings here aren’t skyscrapers but a modest four stories tall and retain some of the heritage architecture that Mumbai is famous for. There is so much greenery packed in such little space it can make your eyes hurt. And you can still hear the cries of balloon-sellers, ice cream vendors and ear piercers calling out to you.

Ad-hoc urbanisation and development may have ruined the rest of Mumbai but it hasn’t touched Five Gardens. Not yet, anyway.

Five Gardens, Lady Jehangir Road, Dadar (E), Mumbai 400 019

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