Taste resides in the nooks and crannies of Chembur but you need to know where to look. Wandering Foodie's Sindhi Food Crawl promises to show you all these places. Jatin Khanna, our guide for this food walk, is a jovial Sindhi and a big foodie.
We started off the walk from the main gate of Chembur's Golf Club. That's where we got a brief history lesson from Jatin. In 1951, Sindhis migrated from Pakistan and were re-settled in many places in India. One of them was Mumbai's suburb – Chembur. The settlement has undergone a major makeover since then. But thankfully, it managed to retain a few flavors that were essential to the community's taste buds. There are tiny restaurants that boast of hosting celebrities – from Raj Kapoor's favorite breakfast place to a chole-kulcha center that has hosted Anupam Kher, Kapoors, and many others. After a few initial warnings about the heavy food we were about to indulge in, we proceeded to our first stop.
The first on our list was Punjabi Paneer. Famous for its soft, succulent and fresh malai paneer, they apparently deliver to the five stars of the city. We shared a plateful of malai paneer sprinkled with a special chaat masala – an in-house masala mix. From there, we went to the Pani Puri House. Started in 1951, this shop serves some of the tastiest chaat you can try in Mumbai. We devoured a plateful of mirchi pakoda in dahi (it tasted heavenly!), some dahi vadas and dahi chaat, before having two-three sweet and spicy pani puris. The tangy goodness of the pani puris lingered when Jatin announced our next stop was just across the road.
We were at VIG Refreshment – the favorite breakfast venue of the legendary Raj Kapoor. We secured a table at the humble establishment and Jatin told us about the specialty of the place – dal pakwan. Sadly we missed having it. The dish is available in the mornings and is over within an hour or two. But we were pleasantly surprised with our dish. Aloo patties with chole– a large potato tikki stuffed with fried chana dal, served with yummy chole. The combination was just perfect. We washed it down with glasses of sweet lassi and salty, refreshing chaas.
Already half full as we left the place, we proceeded with the walk. On our way, we crossed the main sabzi market. Jatin explained that this was the best place to pick up any Sindhi masala and other ingredients for special dishes. He also busted the myth of many Sindhis claiming to be vegetarians. Sindhis were fishermen who lived near the banks of river Indus. They even encourage pregnant women to have a fish dish called Koak Palla fish. After an interesting talk about other Sindhi foods, we went to Mumbai Farsan. Here we indulged in double-fried Sanna pakoda. Served with a chutney made of lentils, this one is for the mirchi-lovers.
Our next stop was for non-vegetarians. It was at Gopal's – a tandoori joint, where we treated ourselves to some delectable Keema patties and Bheja patties. Both were spicy, and full of flavor. We indulged in a discussion about India's past heritage, before moving on to our last stop of the walk – Jhamas's! Famous all over Mumbai, Jhama's is one sweet shop that never disappoints. We had a plate of Gulab Jamun – some of the best I've had in Mumbai – and Sev Barfi – a special kind of sweet prepared with sev.
This had concluded the walk, but as an added treat we visited the famous chole-kulcha place that was near the main sabzi market. Sainath's Dhaba serves some of the most amazing kulchas. From cheese aloo to paneer to onion – you'll find different varieties, and all taste awesome.
If you are a foodie and love trying new cuisines and meeting new people, the next walk is coming soon. Keep a close watch on the Events page for more!