Thursday, May 25, 2006

Mumbai Street Food - Meet the Puris

Eating out has developed into a passion with me. Of course the fact that I stay alone and cannot cook to save my life has helped me immensely in developing this passion.

My eating out has ranged from 5 Star restaurants to the boutique restaurants that have sprung up of late. However the most uniquely satisfying, divinely tasty and totally unhygienic indulgence is the street food in Mumbai.

Those of you who have not tasted it are really missing something good.

Where do I start?

Hmmmmm, Bhel Puri, Sev Puri, Pani Puri, Dahi Puri, Pav Bhaji and the ubiquitous Vada Pav. How can I play favourites here? But let me try.

My favourite is undoubtedly the various members of the Puri family.

Chowpatty in South Mumbai and the Juhu beach in the north are supposed to be the best in business for this. But frankly I think they are overrated. The best that I have had is near the Ramakrishna Mission in Khar, Mumbai. (Actually it is on the Santa Cruz side but that is of minor importance).

Woof! It be good. I especially like the Dahi Puri there.
Boiled potatoes are chopped and then stuffed into the puri (6 per plate) and then half a spoonful each of theekha (hot & spicy) chutney and meetha (sweet) chutney is added to the puri. On it are sprinkled the various masalas. Then comes a liberal (one of the privileges of being a long standing customer) hand of dahi poured over the puris. The puris are then garnished with a masala that consists of chopped coriander, raw mango, boiled black gram and moong. Needless to add they are served with a flourish even as the dude wipes the sweat off his brow.

Eating into it is wonderful too. The crisp puris (you need to eat them quickly, else the puris lose their crispness.) the stuffing inside and the Dahi. Not to forget the garnish. They all combine to make the dish divine.

I was once rhapsodizing about the food there and someone, a cousin I suspect, asked me to rate it on a scale of 1 to 10 on hygiene.


Well! How daft! Obviously this ranked 0 on that particular scale. For those who are finicky about absurd things like hygiene, cleanliness etc. please treat this as a statutory warning and go no further than reading this. For those of you who are a bit more accommodating and who don’t mind an occasional bout of illness this is the place to eat Dahi puri.



IndianArchie said...

As for me..the best Dahi Batata Puri I have had in Bombay, is at Badshah near Crawford Market. This place is more famous for its Faloodas, but the Dahi Batata Puris are superb too! They come with generous amounts of fresh, cold Dahi. Try eating the entire puri at a time, and see the taste burst inside your mouth!

Bala said...

A mouthwatering post indeed!!

Street food has been one of my weakest points, and when I am talking of street food, then you would find all the street dogs surrounding the eat out for their morsel, and most of the house flies (house?? flies) making the "puri" basket their evening hang out.

Street food is an addiction and you will never get the same taste if one prepares the same grub at home.

I fondly remember my visit to Bombay (oops! Mumbai) in the mid Nineties during the Monsoons (in case you want free swimming lessons, then monsoon is the time to visit Mumbai)to the Author's place and I had an itching for pani puri and it had be consumed on road side stall. But unfortunately superior forces suppresed these desires of mine and I succumbed to home made pani puri's , though tasty, but did not satisfy my urge for road side stuff.

The post is an essay of the present day craze for road side grub and fast food, where taste takes precedence over health.

Anonymous said...

I love Pani Puri!!!

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