Hidden in some of the quiet lanes that you would fly over when you take the JJ Flyover in Mumbai are some of the most marvellous meat experiences to be had.
Come evening and the lanes of Bhendi Bazar, or Bohri Mohalla as it is known, begin to come to life as the small eateries dotting it open up for business.
To reach there, go under the J J flyover to where the Saifee Ambulances are parked. Take the lane opposite and let your Meat Safari in the middle of old Mumbai begin.
Your first stop should be the India Hotel run by the venerable Haji Chacha who came to Mumbai from UP and is recognisable by his Methuselah-like white beard. The things to order here are the tawa gurda (chopped kidneys sautéed in masala on a flat wok) and the Karachi styled chicken roll.
Cross over and then move to Bar-B-Q or Haji Tikka’s. The stellar dish here is the khiri kebabs. Charcoal smokes cow’s udder, which leaves you with a bewitchingly creamy taste experience. The round beef kofta kebabs here with a dash of life squeezed on to them are another epicurean delight.
Go straight up from Haji Tikkas and then look to your left for a lane with a lane of shops selling ‘Delhi Pulao’ out of huge handis. Fine grained, delightfully flavoured rice with succulent hunks of meat spread inside. In that lane, you will also find the ‘channawallah’. He sells ragda pattice with a twist. Instead of the potato croquets (pattice) common to the dish, he serves it with liver.
Ask around for directions and follow the dark lanes to Vallibhai Payawallah. One of the last places to savour the lost art of bada handi. Cuts of ox (buffalo) and chhote (goat) slow cooked and then served with a mix of daal and wheat broths slow cooked over 12 pots (bara handi) over half a day. A meat lover’s delight. Culinary alchemy at its best.
To cool down the passions heightened by this meat feast head to Taj Ice Cream beside the India Hotel to have the most amazingly creamy fresh fruit ice creams made by a process perfected over 120 years. Mango, strawberries, litchis...the seasonal delights come to the fore there.
At the end of the evening you would have had an unparalleled gastronomic experience right at your backyard. An experience where history and respect for food come together on your plate to wow you again and again.
Article and photos by – Kalyan Karmakar
Kalyan Karmakar will travel to any lengths for a good meal starting with his own kitchen. He is a consumer insights and social media specialist. He documents his food and travel stories in his blog www.finelychopped.net He considers it his life’s mission to give men the confidence to cook so that they don’t have to depend on anyone else to eat well. He lives in Mumbai.
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