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Jul 16, 2014 12:54 AM

Mumbai street food in the UK

A new place is due to open next week offering what they say is traditional Mumbai street food. Anyone know what dishes I should be looking out for to confirm that?

With apologies to those who, like me, usually hate those "what should I eat at this restaurant" threads.

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  1. Sure. Pao bhaji, which is a traditional mash of vegetables sauteed in butter (Amul butter to be precise) and garnished with more butter, chopped onion, and lemon, and served with bread buns toasted with, you guessed it, more butter, is a huge favorite.

    Another is vada pao, which is a carbloading burger if there was one - stir fried boiled potato with garlic and cumin (among other spices) is shaped into balls and dipped into a chickpea flour batter, and deep fried. This is packed into a pao (bun) which is smeared with a hot garlic and chilly chutney. It's a street favorite.

    Deep fried bhajiyas and pakoras (which is like tempura except with chickpea flour), samosas are also popular on the streets.

    Chaat is synonymous with the use of fresh chopped vegetables and spicy and sour and sweet chutneys in various combinations. Bhelpuri is puffed rice tossed with chopped veggies like tomatoes and onions, and the chutneys. Sev Puri is flat disk like canapes topped with boiled potato and garnishes and the chutneys, and Dahi Puri/Dahi Batata Puri are hard pooris which are pierced and stuffed with potato and topped with chutneys and yoghurt. There's also pani puri, which is when the whole potato stuffed puri gets dunked in a bowl of spicy water mixed with chutney and you have to put the whole thing in your mouth.

    You also get a lot of Indian chinese on the streets of Bombay, but I don't know whether that's going to figure on the menu.

    8 Replies
    1. re: MumbaiCentral

      I'll assume, from your username, that I can regard you as an expert on the subject. Many thanks for the insight.

      We've got a reservation for opening night and I'm looking forward to it. Dishes such as chaat and bhelpuri are familiar to us and we've eaten what we think have been good quality examples - it'll be interesting to see how this place compares. I'll post a review, as usual.

      1. re: Harters

        :) Thing about street food is that the street is what gives it the real awesome factor: in the sanitized environment of restaurants it somehow doesn't match up. At least that's what happens when restaurants in India try having 'street food' festivals. Am heading to London for 3 months in September and while I'm not looking to eat Indian, I do have chaat cravings that spring up every now and then so I'm looking forward to that review. Cheers!

        1. re: MumbaiCentral

          My comparision will generally be with this place - Indian Tiffin Room - that's, literally, just round the corner.

          1. re: MumbaiCentral

            I had some good chaat in Wembley, North London recently. Not sure how authentic it was but they do have a branch in Mumbai. The bhel puri and pani puri were particluarly good. Linki to website:


            1. re: Paprikaboy

              There's a Kailash Parbat branch in Singapore, too. They're good.

              1. re: Paprikaboy

                Yeah, Kailash Parbat is good. The style they use isn't strictly "Mumbai Street Food" - it started off in Mumbai as a standalone restaurant doing a lot of (still) novel sindhi (now a region in pakistan) recipes like aloo tuk, dal pakwaan and deep fried lotus stem and a savory crepe called Koki. That's actually what I like most there. They also use arbi root (colocassia) which isn't something you'll see everywhere.

                One thing you don't see on any Kailash parbat menu that I see here though is beer and wine! "Sindhi beer" is supposed to be a big bottle of buttermilk (for the record it's on the menu as 'chaas in pitcher')

                1. re: MumbaiCentral

                  I went there mainly for the Sindhi dishes as I'd never had them before but I think they only do them at weekends. Maybe in the evenings but definitely not at lunch during the week when I went. Still I very much enjoyed the chaat and will have to go back soon.

                  1. re: MumbaiCentral

                    sadly, david feldman found the kailash parbat in manhattan mediocre even though i suggested he stick to the sindhi dishes.

                    by the way, if you want a bit of a giggle go look up the menu at the gymkhana, the latest upscale desi place in london.