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Good food is easily accessible all year round but great food comes once in a while. Usually it is around a festival where food is prepared with more enthusiasm and love. One of the best times during the year to indulge in hearty meaty comforting food is during the holy month of Ramadan where the entire Muslim population comes alive at night and relishes their meal post their prayers and an entire day of fast. There are plenty of popular joints to visit during this month and specially the lanes of Mohammed Ali Road, Bhendi Bazaar and Bohari Mohalla are incredibly popular.
Folks flock here in hoards during Ramadan nights to enjoy the food prepared and no matter which restaurant or road side stall you pop by it is far from disappointing. Yes, there is much jostling and shoving as the crowds are intense, but the overall experience is really one of a kind. It can get tricky trying to restaurant hop at this time, so to make it easier we thought we would tell you exactly which dishes to try. Of course, there is plenty on display and in some cases subject to availability because they cater to insane numbers, but these are our top picks to eat during the month of Ramadan.
Shammi/ Sheekh Kababs - While this might not seem like something specific to Ramadan, it is still a must to gorge on among the many types of kababs possible. The sheekh and shammi are extremely popular but the restaurants and streets are filled with all sorts of kababs. It might be slightly tricky trying to find a meatless one but these days there are vegetarian options as well. The focus however will always be on the meat.
Nalli Nihari - This delicious stew made with slow cooked meat, bone marrow and sometimes even a little brain (not always), is an incredibly popular dish. While it is widely available and not really specific to Ramadan, it is still a popular choice during Iftars. Not only is the stew packed with flavours, but the real treat is in trying to get to the marrow. It gets messy and there really is no dainty way to eat this but no one really bothers about any formality while tucking in.
Payaa - This almost soup like dish is simple but devoured by many. Paya means trotters or hoofs and is made from either cow, goat or sheep but usually goat, at least in India and cooked with various spices. If you are a newbie when it comes to eating during Iftar then this might throw you off a bit at the thought but as they say, never judge a book by its cover and payaa is a delicacy worth indulging.
Haleem - Haleem is specifically a dish prepared during Ramadan. Most of the times it is available in various restaurants through the year but it is a specialty that is made with great pride during Ramadan. Haleem is made with lentils, grains, minced meat and spices and is slow cooked for at least 7 - 8 hours. With a heavy calorie count, this is a filling dish and relished specially during the month of Ramadan.
Phirni - This rice pudding like dessert made with cream, rice and full milk is an absolute delight. It is one of the most popular sweets eaten at an Iftar. You will find it in little earthen pots and usually flavoured or garnished with chopped nuts. Rose, pistachio, almond, kesar and mango are some of the popular variations to phirni and depending on the flavour you like, each is the perfect end to a heavy meal.
Malpua - One of the dishes synonymous to Ramadan is the malpua. The highlight of Iftar for most folks, this calorie laden treat is specially created in most shops only during Ramadan. It is made with eggs (though you do get eggless versions) dry fruits, mawa, sugar, flour and eventually deep fried, this sinful dessert is truly indulgent and no meal at any Iftar is complete without it.>
Better known as the Tiny Taster, Roxanne is an internationally respected blogger and expert on the Mumbai food scene. She has hosted many events, including the Upper Crust Food & Wine Show and travels the world, sharing her knowledge and gaining more experience.