Ramzan approaches, and the Muslim food of Mumbai suddenly floats onto the top of everyone’s consciousness. Few people in Mumbai can feign ignorance of Mohammad Ali Road but that’s not the only place in Mumbai to polish off a decent kabab. This post is about a somewhat lesser-known but equally cholesterol-friendly bylane of Mumbai.
Mahim Khau Gallo (officially Balamia Road) opposite the Mahim dargah – not so much lesser known (you can hardly miss the traffic knot there) as lesser explored. Most people I know have seen and not conquered it, but it is a galli of considerable choice and some uniqueness. The Dargah is Mumbai’s oldest, and Makhdoom-al-Mahimi who rests in peace inside (how he does amidst all that noise is a mystery) is the patron saint of the Mumbai police. I guess it’s one of life ironies that the Dargah is also the address of some of those most wanted by the police – Tiger Memon and his family. For those not inclined to a life of crime, however, the Dargah acts a fitting cornerstone to a mostly non-vege khau-galli – one of the tombs inside is that of a goat.
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Mahim has some items not commonly found in other places, which is what makes this galli worth exploring. The first one I encountered was the chicken vada-pav; it looks like the usual vegetarian version but comes with a marvellous chicken filling– so much more satisfying that mere aloo. Baida rotis and rolls abound too, but are not particularly different from anywhere else. Then, there’s the usual assortment of deepfried stuff – nice, but unspectacular. You do get fried fish here, though – I guess reflecting its fishing village roots.
The middle of the lane is the dedicated province of sharbatiyas and halwa-paratha sellers. Huge parathas accompany a startlingly orange sooji halwa topped with glazed fruit (as if more colour was need) in a combination that would be wonderful if the halwas was better. Also popular is an orange milkshake that’s as sweet, colourful and avoidable as the halwa. The final item on the dessert list is the rather grandiosely named Dilbahar – puff pastry enclosing a dull coconut and dry-fruit filling.
What this street is really famous for is at the Paradise Cinema end – the Khichda. Khichda is the haleem of bollywood, a concoction of wheat, dal and meat slow-cooked into a gloopy mixture that has much to recommend it. Add to it a generous helping of deep-fried onions and a twist of lime, sit down on one of those colourful plastic chairs and dig in.
The khichda sellers also sell some murderous looking chana chaat and aloo dum that is surprisingly tasty and very vegetarian. They will also mix all of it up, some kichda some aloo dum and some chana chaat into a … well, just go and try it.
The bottom line in the verdict is this – chicken vada paos are fantastic. The other kabas are competent. The Khichda is nice. The whole place is a worthy change from Bycullah, and not just at Ramzan.