Eid is an especially happy day for folks who have Muslim friends and neighbours.
Our neighbour in our old house, Farida aunty, used to send us the lovely biryani that she would make and the sevia-based dessert, sheer khurma. Nowadays Abdul bhai, who looks after the air cons in our house, gets us delicious biryani and sheer khurma made by his wife on Eid.
Or you can head to Bohri Mohalla at Bhendi Bazar, my favourite spot in the city for Muslim food, for desserts.
Start your evening with sharbat at Imam Sharbatwalla. This is a 90-year old stall which sells just one drink, the sharbat! It consists of a sugary masala milk base, infused with freshly-chopped water melon and crushed ice. This is not for those who are not comfortable drinking non-filtered water though. If you don’t mind that, then the sharbat here can be addictive. Most people ask for a second one after they have had the first taste of the sharbat. It is also a refreshing palate cleanser after you have indulged in the meaty delights in the nearby India Hotel, Haji Tikka and Surti Bara Handi.
You could go to Tawakkal Sweets which was started 50 years back by a Bohri family as a small stall selling dahi vadas. No, these are not the dahi vadas of the South or dahi vallas of Punjab. What they call dahi vadas at Tawakkal are actually sugar soaked, Balushahi-like desserts. During Ramzan you also get malpua (egg and egg-less). The jury is divided whether the crunchy edges are better or the chubbier middle but one thing is for sure that the malpuas here are the nicest among what I have tried in Mumbai. During Ramzan they serve rice-based dessert, firni. The plain one is the nicest but the saffron and mango ones have their fans too. You can order these in advance in non-Ramzan months.
Do go to the Bohri-owned Noor Sweets which has been in operation for about 8 decades. The current owner, Huzefa, runs tuition classes but his heart lies in the sweet shop. The best thing here are the jalebis. Try to get them to fry them fresh for you. The magic is different when the jalebis are piping hot. Be warned that the sugary syrup could drip all over you. The jalebis are a perfect balance of sweetness and crunch and don’t have excessive food colouring in them. My favourite jalebis in Mumbai.
End your evening with ice creams at the 125-year old Taj ice cream. It is run by the descendants of the Bohri family that had come to Mumbai from Gujarat. The method of making ice creams here hasn’t changed since then. Every morning they boil full fat milk (Amul Gold or Mother Dairy), cool it, add sugar and fresh fruits (the workers are told not to skimp on this) and then put it in a copper canister which is hand churned in a wooden barrel filled with ice and salt (to cool faster). This apparatus is called the sancha. If they are in a good mood (which they always are) then Hatim uncle or his nephew Mustafa, might show you the sancha on request. The ice creams are made fresh every day in the shop and you can even pack some to take home. My favourites are the strawberry, sitafal (custard apple) and mango ones. This year, a new introduction, peru (guava) is a big hit on social media. If you are a naughty boy who doesn’t like fruits then try the chocolate or the almond ones. The thing is, anyone who tries the ice creams at Taj is convinced after that these are the best ice creams they have ever had.
So come to Bohri Mohalla and revel in the sweet love around you.
Photo Credit: Kalyan Karmakar
Follow him @ Finelychopped
Kalyan Karmakar authors the popular award winning blog, Finely Chopped and is an authority on the food of Mumbai. His extensive knowledge of the city's food scene has been featured in publications such as Femina, Mumbai Mirror and BCC Good Food. He was one of the founding critics of EazyDiner's Mumbai team.
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