Tag Archives: Mumbai

Juhu Beach – Many Shades of Life in Mumbai

By Lakshmi:

Who?  Anyone visiting Mumbai who wants to experience the many shades of life in the city on a beach.

What? Juhu Beach is located in the suburbs of Mumbai.

How? You can take a taxi, auto or a public bus to the beach.  The JW Marriott in Mumbai is located on this beach.

Why? Growing up in Mumbai, Juhu Beach was a favorite economical Sunday outing.  It was a few minutes from home, we got fresh air and cheap food and occasionally bumped into a movie set as an added treat.

Recently, I got to spend about three weeks at the JW Marriott in Mumbai and this gave me the opportunity to experience many facets of a Mumbaikar’s life on the beach.  First, given the shortage of space in Mumbai and most people living in cramped quarters, Juhu Beach is this wide open space that serves as an oasis and a great equalizer across all socio-economic classes.

An early morning outing on the beach provides a profusion of life scenes.  There are joggers and walkers getting their early morning exercise.  The less intense workouts are accompanied by conversations around challenges faced at home, issues in the office and of course a plethora of tips on the SENSEX and what stocks to invest in.   One or more groups of yoga enthusiasts get busy doing their “surya namaskar” and other asanas.  Even in this early hour, you are suddenly jolted by the yell of kids playing soccer on one end and cricket on the other.  You see a few couples in a distance walking and talking before getting into another crazy day in the city.  There are a few solitary garbage collectors, cleaning up while looking to see if there is anything that is salvageable from the trash of the day.  And let’s not forget the city’s many stray dogs.  While a few run along uninvited with beach joggers, others are fighting or congregating around discarded food.  The many food stalls stand deserted at this early hour and in the backdrop you can see the buses already starting to transport hordes of people to their daily destinations.

Fast forward to the evening and while you still have fitness enthusiasts working out, there are crowds of people of every shape, color and size that descend on the beach in droves, suddenly flooding the beach with a profusion of every color imaginable.  The food stalls now are humming with action and the smell of all of Mumbai’s well loved junk food including bhel puri, pani puri, ragda patties and more permeates the air.  Couples are cute feeding each other or sharing shaved ice “gollas”.  Kids are building sand castles and nagging parents for the cheap toys and balloons sold by street vendors.  As the sun goes down, people slowly, partially unwillingly get up to go home, having enjoyed their small piece of bliss in a tough city.

Rajdhani, Mumbai – Where a Vegetarian Thali Rocks

Rajdhani Thali
Source: http://www.go-nxg.com/

By Lakshmi:

Growing up in Mumbai with a plethora of Gujarati friends, I absolutely loved the food at their homes.  Many of these friends had “Maharajs” or cooks in their home, who cooked for the extended family of parents, siblings, their spouses and kids who all lived under the same roof.  Food was abundant, the cuisine vegetarian with the perfect palate pleasing combination of sweet, spicy, sour and salty at the same time.

There is many a restaurant in Mumbai that recreates this traditional Gujarati Thali (plate).  For a fixed price, you get to eat unlimited quantities of food, all served at your table.  The waiters are incredibly efficient and observant, always watching discreetly to see if something is done on your plate, so they can appear with more.

On my last couple of trips to Mumbai, I discovered Rajdhani.  This chain has outlets throughout India and claims to have 72 different rotating menus with 22,464 delicacies from Gujarat and Rajasthan.  Never knew you could have that much variety at one restaurant!

Now to our experience.  We ate at multiple branches and the food always hit all the right notes.  Let me warn you that on weekends, the place has a very very long line, so your best bet of eating with no wait is hitting it on a weeknight.  First, a waiter comes by with an urn of water for you to wash your hands.  Next you are served an an assortment of appetizers, followed by fresh breads with an assortment of curries, rice and of course dessert.  All accompanied by a yogurt drink (chaas) which is the perfect cooling antidote to the spicy, hot food.  And when you are done, you can ask for paan for a token price (that sweet betel leaf confection) which is the traditional way to end a meal.

On our many visits, our appetizers included muthias (fenugreek leaves mixed with chick pea flour and deep fired), dhoklas (steamed cakes of rice or chick pea flour) and dahi vada (deep fried lentil balls soaked in a spiced yogurt sauce).  The curries are too many to mention and the desserts included rasgulla (milk balls in sugar syrup), moong halwa (a lentil based dessert flavored with cardamom and saffron) and fruit salad.

So, why chose Rajdhani over a plethora of options?  First, if you are in Mumbai, you’ve got to try the local cuisine which is so different from what most Indian restaurants serve around the world.  Second, for a price of 500 rupees, a couple can eat to their heart’s content.  And the final reason is to absolutely go and eat like a local where the locals eat.

To learn more and get enticed, please visit their website at

http://www.rajdhani.co.in/index.html

Street Foods in Mumbai – These are a Few of My Favorite Things

 

By Lakshmi:

Anyone who has spent any time in Mumbai knows the joy of eating out!  Not just eating out, but eating off roadside stalls.  I know what you are thinking….am I recommending a sure way to get sick in India?  No, of course not.  But if you go to the right places, there is no place like these to snack and eat to your heart’s content for very little money.

Pani Puris:  How does one describe this?  The best way to describe it is little puffed balls of fried dough, popped open and filled with a mixture of pulses and veggies and served dunked in a tart tamarind sauce.  The crispness of the puris, the freshness of the veggies/pulses, the sweet and sour taste of the tamarind sauce make for a dish that hits at the taste buds from multiple angles.

Misal Pao:  This Maharashtrian food for the common man is a simple but potent combination of a simple peasant bread, accompanied by the most spicy sauce which includes an assortment of pulses and spices, topped with finely chopped onions, coriander and crunchy fried lentil strips.  Honest confession…the first time I had it, I did not realize the impact the hotness would have on my system.  Suffice it is to say, I had to spend the next day in some level of isolation.  But, every time I am in Mumbai, I still indulge and pretty much every small no-name place has it on the menu.

Vegetable Sandwich:  As the name suggests, there is nothing exotic about this meal.  It is two slices of bread with veggies served with ketchup.  Now, I don’t know whether it is the bread or the veggies or the sauce, but the taste of that quick pick-me-upper roadside sandwich is hard to replicate.

Vada Pao:  This very popular street eat could be called as a local burger.  A nice rotund patty of mashed potato and spices dunked in chickpeas batter and fried to perfection is sandwiched between two slices of pao (peasant bread) and served with the most garlicky coconut chutney.  How can a food-lovers trilogy of ingredients such as potatoes, bread and garlic produce anything but yummy food?

Hmmm….just writing this post makes me want to fly to Mumbai and indulge.  Unfortunately, there is a few months for that!