Diwali is the king of festivals in Mumbai and the best way to celebrate it is through food.
The beauty of Diwali in Mumbai is that it is celebrated across communities and you can try out food from all regions of India here.
Maharashtrians have something called faral which they make at home and consists of an assortment of sweet and savoury snacks. The idea is to enjoy this with one’s family at home on Diwali.
To get a taste of what Maharashtrians have for Diwali, you can go to Aaswad opposite Shiv Sena Bhavan. Sit down and have some traditional Maharashtrian snacks such as thali peeth, sabudana vada and the Foodie Hub Global Award winning missal pav.
These are available through the year but the advantage of going to Aaswad during Diwali is you can buy faral items such as chakli, chiwda pohe laddoo and the netlike fried sweet, Anarsa, from the Aaswad sweet shop and go home and enjoy it with some hot and milki chaha (Marathi for tea).
While the Maharashtrians enjoy their faral at home, the Gujaratis make a mix of savoury and sweet faral which they send to each other’s homes.
To get a taste of Gujarati festive fare, go to Soam near Babulnath temple. Pinky Dixit of Soam along with Rushina Munshaw Ghildayal are doing a Perfect Bite Culinary Legacy Kathiawadi festival menu here.
Kathiawadi food comes from the arid regions of Gujarat where vegetables are scarce and the food depends on spices, condiments, chillies and sev (a besan based namkeen) to pull it through. The result are dishes which pack in a lot of flavour and have the sort of textural contrast which international Chefs espouse and is rare in Indian cooking. The festival is on till end November.
To get a flavour of what Bengalis eat on Kali Pujo, our version of Diwali, you can go to the Notun Polly Kali Puja at the Bandra Hindu Association Hall where vegetarian khichudi bhog is distributed at midnight. No mutton though, unlike what is typical in Kolkata.
Or you can head to the Leela near the airport for a posh Diwali festive meal. They plan to offer a Diwali inspired menu which includes Diwali specials like Dum Aloo Banarasi, Palak Methi Mutter, Anjeer Kofta Curry, Dal Rajma, Navratan Pulao and in non-vegetarian (well, why not) Murg Musallam. If fusion appeals to you, you can try Rasgulla Tiramisu and Gulab Jamun Cake. This will be laid out on 11th November.
So lots to eat before you go out bursting crackers and please burst eco-friendly and silent ones.
Follow Kalyan Karmakar @ 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.