The bustling Bhendi Bazaar in Mumbai is primarily a Bhori Muslim settlement. The multifarious sights, sounds and aroma, and friendly ambiance overwhelm you right from the beginning as you meander through this non-vegetarian haven. The culinary options are scrumptious and eclectic. While embarking on the gastronomic quest with our magnificent and ebullient host Huzefa Kudrati we didn’t realize that the place doesn’t just have good food but also has amazing humane stories.
Our first stop was Al Rehamani restaurant. We tried their succulent, flavourful, and seekh kebabs with crispy Parathas, and the combination was fun and delicious. The use of Ajwain or carom seeds in the grounded meat mixture lends a very unique and subtle flavour to the seekh kebabs. They tasted the best with a dash of lime juice, mint leaves, and the coriander chutney.
After a short amble, we reached our second stop, the JJ sweet shop to try their popular sweet the Gulab Jamun, Mawa Jalebi, Meetha Dahi Vada, and Malpua. The Meetha dahi bada was an absolute surprise simply because it was not at all similar to the Dahi Vadas that we are familiar with. It was a sweet, slightly chewy in texture, small and slightly flat dough balls, made with semolina and curd, that is cooked in sugar syrup. The warm Gulab Jamuns simply melted in our mouths. Their most celebrated dish was the Mawa Jalebi that’s an adaption of the famous Burhanpur variant. It was dark, fluffy, slightly crunchy, and delectable.
Our third stop at the Firoz Farshan was a revelation. It was really hard for us to process the claim of a biryani without rice until we actually tried some and got stumped by the ingenuity. Here the rice has been replaced with a very unique and out-of-the-box thing the Patrel. It is dense and chunky thing made from Colocasia leaves that’s smeared with a spiced chickpea flour batter, rolled, steamed, cut into pieces, and fried. It was an outstanding dish that will stay with us for long.
For the fourth stop, we halt by the Fakri bakery to buy some of their specialty, the flaky and airy Pench Butter Khari biscuits to have with tea later on.
So the fifth place we arrived at was the Indian Hotel to devour the Baida Roti, Baida Roll and Chicken Kasturi Sandwich. The Baida Roti was a square, shallow-fried flatbread parcel that was filled with beaten eggs and cooked minced meat. Baida roll was a shallow fried roll stuffed with omelette and minced meat. The last dish was a sandwich of Kasturi meethi (fenugreek leaves) flavoured chicken mince spread between two Naans. Squeeze some lemon and you are good to go. Pure indulgence!
After the starters and the Main course it was time to hydrate ourselves so we went to our sixth destination, Idris Cold Drinks that serves a variety of refreshing sodas. These humble drinks were prepared by mixing concentrates extracted from different ingredients along with soda, crushed ice and sometimes Chaat masala.
Our seventh stop was the Alvi Cold drinks selling non veg Channa Batata. Its was an interesting savoury and tangy preparation made by mixing cooked chickpeas, diced potatoes, cooked spleen and kidneys of lamb and garnished with kokum chutney, tamarind chutney, green garlic and fried onions.
The iconic Surti Handi was our eighth stop. Here everything was slow cooked for 8-12 hours. It was the unique proportions and blends of masalas and the appropriate heat that result in such a delectable outcome. We thoroughly enjoyed the delicious Nalli or bone marrow curry and the Paya or the trotter stew along with Khameeri roti.
Now was the time for dessert and our ninth destination was Tawakkal Sweets that is very popular with the locals and outsiders as well. We tried small portions of their soft and creamy Mango malai, Strawberry malai, Walnut malai, Blackcurrent malai, and Dry fruits malai along with a baked, fudgy milk sweet called the Aflatoon.
Our journey ended on a very blissful note at the Taj Mahal Cold Drink House which is a century-old joint that has been preparing the most decadent hand-churned natural ice-creams.
We are super thankful to our amazing host Huzefa Kudrati.