People who love to eat are the best people, said Julia Child! One gets to meet hordes of people in love with food devouring all that is served on their plate and more at this one place during the famous fasting period of Ramadan! Well, after having stayed in Mumbai for more than 25 years now, I hadn’t been even once towards Mohammed Ali Road with at least food on my mind. But then photography happened, writing trip reports became a habit. Finding interesting places to go and click and write about the same is my second nature for more than 10 years now. It was about 3 years ago when I came across a few writeups mentioning the interesting walk along the streets near Minara Masjid and finding out how the crowd gathered to enjoy the Ramzan special snacks and desserts every evening during the fasting month, stoked the curiosity within to venture out there and find out there and find it out for myself. Everything happens only when it has to, and probably it was time now for that explorative visit.
Iftar is the foodie treat after breaking the roza/fast every evening after sunset during the month of Ramzan. A visit to Mohammed Ali Road in Mumbai is a sheer celebration of food at it’s best during this period. One may get to eat the very same snacks and delicacies round the year here or anywhere else but it is the festive mood and the mirthful environment that counts as an unforgetaable experience.
An unplanned but interesting visit finally helps me tick off one more place of interest I had wished to visit since some time now. A short train journey from Borivali to Grant road and another short share-a-cab ride brought me to this barricaded lane by the side of Minara Masjid around 6 pm. To start off with the lane looked quite easy to walk around. The shops and bakeries were stocking the goodies on the tables. The first one to greet me was a handcart loaded with tri-coloured sevaiyya (vermicelli)! further ahead colourful packets of falooda mix had started attracting a few eyeballs. I must confess, I was keen on watching the gentleman deep fry the malpuas and stack it one upon the other and gently throw it with full confidence into a huge plate aiming perfectly! Never seen before or heard of snacks and savouries were right there on the tables lined along the street in front of the shops. Slowly the crowd was gathering. But it was not until the sunset and azaan were announced from the nearby Minara Masjid that the sales picked up.
Post sunset, within minutes the street gets completely taken over by the visitors. It would take some real talent to sneak in and get a seat in one of those eateries. Foodies, of course, make their way into the shops and stalls and manage to devour all that they have come there for. The street is lively until late in the night and serves all of them who visit. I had spent a good 2 hours and the best part of the entire walk happened to be sharing food with a kind family who insisted that I sit with them for iftaar. My first ever iftaar. I was there clicking pictures of the community iftaar organised by the building residents for anybody who walks in and cares to share their meal. I was cordially invited to Mr. Ayaaz’s residence and his sweet wife Sadaf, served me with a plateful of fruits and a perfect glass of cool nimbu sherbat. Though it did feel a bit awkward to tell them that I am a strict vegetarian, they did guess that and made me completely comfortable. One never knows when and how new bonds are forged.
A foodie paradise to those who love non-veg bingeing, the place also has some interesting snacks and finger-licking desserts for vegetarians. Kebabs, cutlets, haleem, shawarma and such dominate the streetscape but veg samosas, dhokla, saandal and such also made their presence felt. One thing that really interested me was the wide variety of sweets. Mava Khaja, Malai Khaja, kheer, Jamun, mava Jalebi, kesar doodh, falooda, fruits and juice and dry fruits… one really has to fast and then visit this place to do complete justice to the food! Even the wide variety of bread in the bakeries is a scene to behold.With a bag full of some yummy desserts and heart full of some very sweet memories, I was already back on the local to Borivali!