Ever felt hungry? Stupid question that. Ever felt like eating out? It is a rarity that any one normal will say ‘no’ to that. Ever felt like eating out without having to burn a hole in your pocket? Now I know you are listening. But where do you find such a place? Is it the new neighbourhood restaurant? Naah. Or is it one of the ever increasing number of food franchises (Read McDonald’s, Dominos, Pizza Hut). Definitely not. It is what sets Mumbai apart as far as its reputation for a food lover’s paradise goes.
Traditionally it was the paav vada and chaiwala stalls. With time this has evolved. Now you have cuisines from all over India and in some places, from places abroad too. The streets of Mumbai have been the residence of some of the city’s finest inventors of fusion cuisines. Thought there are many places worth a mention, this entry is dedicated to my regular haunt, the ‘khau galli’ at Ghatkopar.
The moment the clock strikes 5 in the evening, a busy but boring street junction turns into one of the most happening hangout places in the suburb. An array of street vendors set up their make-shift kitchens to serve you a great variety of delectable food. Be it the paav bhaaji or the dosas, the franky or the dhabeli, the chaat or the ice-cream, the kulfi or the golas, the juice or the sweets, you name it you get it.
It might not be a great place to eat if you were one of those finicky about hygiene, but it is definitely better than many college canteens (read mine). In around 60-70 bucks, let’s stretch to a maximum of a Rs.100 note, you can come back with your appetites more than satisfied. For that much economy, you can’t make comparisons with a fine-dining restaurant.
The pride of the lane is the dosa stall. It started off with 2 people with one thick black tawa and a coal sigdi. From there on, around 2 years down the line it has multiplied into a assembly line processing structure. 8 people handling various aspects of the job – cutting the vegetables, handling the stove, putting the toppings, taking the order, serving the dosas, washing the plate and they even have a cashier!! It now has around 6 stoves on weekdays and 8 on weekends. It boasts of almost 40 combinations, with the dosa being the only thing connecting them. I guess it is definitely something for the Mumbai B-Schools, if not the IIMs, to take up as a case-study.
I can perhaps go on about each stall and its specialty, but the bigger picture here is that the lane just epitomizes the spirit of the city. Everyone has busy days, tiring work routines, but nothing cheers us up as a good meal!! I am feeling all bubbly and chirpy and now I guess you know the reason. Burrrpp.