Mumbai is home to some of India’s best street food. The city was my home for many years as a student, so I often relied on street food for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Returning here after a decade away, I was surprised to find some of my favourite places to eat were still there: Britannia, which serves the best biryani, and also Badshah in Crawford Market, still making the most amazing falooda (chilled dessert). In Bandra, I discovered some great new chaat stalls (snacks) serving classic pani puri (fried pastry balls, stuffed with potato and tamarind), kachori (the same, with lentils and varied spices), and dosa (filled rice pancake), and I also found a new local love for cupcakes.
Every part of Mumbai does its own special breakfast. When I visited recently there were many vendors outside Dadar West station, one of them selling piping hot medu vada (savoury fritters) with sambhar (lentil stew), and coconut chutney. Another was making the legendary Mumbai toasty filled with potato mix, chutney, cucumber, beetroot, onion and tomatoes.
If you’re looking for snacks, then head to Elco Market in Bandra to find kachori (spicy, stuffed pastry), samosa and papdi chaat (crispy dough noodles). There’s also a fresh juice vendor here, and if it’s mango season (April-June), there’s no better place. Another popular street food hub is Chaupati Beach in Andheri, packed with stalls serving pav bhaji (veg curry and soft bread rolls), vada pav (spiced potato with chutney), and some of Mumbai’s Indian-Chinese food.
Make it at home: Sticky Bombay chicken
8 skinless chicken drumsticks
2tbsp dark soy sauce
1tbsp olive oil
20g (3/4oz) dark brown sugar
4 finely chopped garlic cloves 2.5cm (1 inch) peeled and finely chopped piece of fresh
1 finely chopped red chilli
1tsp five-spice powder
1tbsp toasted sesame seeds
Method: Make a couple of slashes on each drumstick, ready for marinating. Combine the soy sauce, olive oil, sugar, garlic, ginger, chilli, five-spice powder and salt in a large bowl. Mix well, add the chicken and stir to coat. Leave to marinate for one hour or, preferably, overnight in the fridge. Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F), gas mark 4. Roast the chicken and marinade in a shallow roasting tin for 40 minutes, turning occasionally until cooked through. Sprinkle the sesame seeds and serve hot.
Chetna Makan is author of the new book Chai, Chaat & Chutney: A Street Food Journey Through India, published by Octopus Books, RRP: £20