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Food during the Monsoon season is more about comfort as one needs to dispel the gloomy and overcast skies and uplift one’s mood. There can be no better way to perk up one’s taste buds than with hot and spicy food. Fried food, spicy snacks and bowls of soup are eternally sought after, apart from endless cups of masala chai. Restaurants in Mumbai offer several options for monsoon snacks that one can munch on, apart from those available at roadside, hole-in-the-wall eateries, if one is brave enough to risk those.
Who can resist slices of potatoes, onions, paneer, spinach, dipped in gram flour or besan batter and deep-fried in oil when the rain lashes at your window panes? Pakoras or bhajiyas, are undoubtedly the numero uno rain food across India. Relished with tomato sauce or a spicy mint and coriander chutney, Mumbai has its own version of bhajjis with kanda or onions, potatoes, chilli, moong dal and more. These are available across the city at roadside stalls too, but hygienic and yet tasty ones can be savoured at Kailash Parbat, Andheri or The Bayview, Hotel Marine Plaza among others. Several hotels organise chai and pakora festivals during this season.
This simple combination of dal and rice with minimal spices proves to be the ultimate comfort food for the rainy season. Of course, there can be several variations too. A complete meal in itself, the choice of lentils and tempering, can vary but it remains a universal favourite. At times, vegetables are also added to a khichdi. Soam in Babulnath, Mumbai is one of the best places to savour an authentic and well-made khichdi. Their Bajra Khichdi is extremely popular as well. Golden Star Thali, Maharaja Bhog and Khandani Rajdhani, are other places which offer a vast array of khichdis.
These delicate steamed or pan fried dumplings filled with fish, seafood, meat or vegetables or blends of several ingredients are traditionally eaten with tea or soup and delight the taste buds during the rains. For those seeking the authentic, exotic variety, Yauatcha, BKC is the place to head to. Other good bets are The Fatty Bao, Mainland China and Shiro.
The robust flavouring of the aromatic Maharashtrian kaala masala lends a unique taste to sprouted lentils in this popular dish – Misal Pav. Topped with sev and chopped onions and served with bread or pav, this is a delectable snack, often eaten at breakfast but anytime during monsoons. Easy-on-the- wallet, it is easily available across the city and is a sought after street food. Aaswad, Dadaji Shivaji Park offers an authentic one.
The sound of the sizzle and the aroma filling the nostrils, as the wooden tray with the iron plate is placed on the table, is what entices one’s appetite. Indian, Oriental or Italian, sizzlers are available across cuisines in Mumbai. There are some great vegetarian options too with paneer and mushrooms. Yoko Sizzlers and the Cream Centre in Mumbai are exceptional.
Food critic, features writer and columnist, Mini Ribeiro is a qualified Journalist, from IIMC New Delhi. She specialises in the Food & Beverage and Hospitality space. As an established food & beverage writer, Mini currently contributes to several leading English publications across the country – Asian Age, Hindustan Times, Sunday Financial Express, Hotelier India, Go Getter and Vistara inflight magazines and Rediff.com. She also has her own You Tube channel called Mini’s Food Fundas. Fond of cooking, Mini enjoys experimenting in the kitchen with various cuisines, with Indian regional food, being her favourite. She has recently started, a platform for home talent, called 'Flavours from Home', an initiative which aims to make women who are passionate about cooking, entrepreneurs.