16 June 2017

Five Places to Check Out in Bohri Mohalla For That Perfect Iftaar Feast

Visiting the Bohri Mohalla area or the Minara Masjid area during Ramzan is about more than just food; it is an experience. The lights and sounds are captivating. You cannot help but get drawn into the festivities and camaraderie. It's such a beautiful amalgamation of people from different cultures, religions, and walks of life. And then there's the food. Smells of meat being grilled, malpuas being fried, and masalas being coated. Sights of colourful phirnis and halwas on display, kebabs hanging off skewers, and ginormous tawas cooking up every meat imaginable. 

I wrote these lines back in 2015, when I wrote about another Iftaar walk, which you can read about here. Nothing much has changed in all this time. The vibe at these places during Ramadan and my feeling about the entire eating out experience during this holy month remains the same. Even though most people flock to Mohammed Ali Road and the Minara Masjid area for their share of grub, I have been partial to Bohri Mohalla and the stalls there. There's lesser jostling through crowds here, and the food is just as delicious. Here are my top five stalls/restaurants that you must visit in the Bohri Mohalla area to get your Iftaar feast.

1. Haji Tikka 
For your fix of tikkas, kebabs and seekhs.
Haji Tikka started off as a single man Mr. Haji Ahmed, selling tikkas from a stall on the side of the road over fifty years ago, and now has people flocking to the shop from all over the city for their fix of kebabs. In addition to the street side stall, they also have a sit down joint right next door, where you can eat in peace.
Must Try - The Mutton Seekhs, with pudina chutney and naan on the side. The Khiri or the udder that come perfectly charred and melt in your mouth. The Tandoori Chicken - massive leg piece, the flesh full of flavour. Make sure you order some delicious naan on the side to go with your kebabs.




2. Immam Sharbatwala
To cool down between all those courses of meat.
Barely a lane away from Haji Tikka, you'll see an elderly gentleman pouring out glasses of an orange hued liquid at record speed, while crowds throng him waiting for their turn. Immam Sharbatwala is an iconic stall in the Bhendi Bazaar area, and one frequented by locals in the area after they break their fast. The 'Sharbat' is a sweet, milk based one topped with ice shavings and watermelon chunks. Creamy sweetness hits you in the first sip, followed by a bite of frozen watermelon, making this a refreshing treat.
Must Try - A Half Glass of their classic sharbat. A full glass may get too filling for a single person, and I'm sure you want to save stomach space for the treats ahead. Skip their low sugar version - you don't need that sort of negativity in your life.



3. India Hotel
To chow down on meaty mains, rolls and re-invented sandwiches.
Meats of every kind imaginable sizzle on a ginormous tawa at the entrance of the stall, while another tawa churns out rolls and baida rotis. India Hotel is a crowd favourite for their offal dishes - gurda (kidney), kaleji (liver), bheja (brain) and a few other I haven't rustled up the courage to try yet. This time around we got the Bheja Fry - goat's brains scrambled up in a spicy gravy, and Chicken Bhuna - masala laden chicken chunks. Worth trying here is the Baida Roti - a  flatbread lined with egg, stuffed with meat within, so much similar to the Murtabak I had in Singapore last year.
Must Try - Their 'Sandwiches'. Your choice of tikka stuffed within a naan bread, heated on a tava with some chutney slathered within. Makes for a fabulous meal!


4. Tawakkal Sweets
When you want malpuas for dessert. Or phirnis. Or both.
Don't make the mistake any novice Ramadan food walker will make and stuff yourself so much on food, that you end up leaving no space for dessert. Tawakkal sweets situated right next to India Hotel, is perpetually crowded with diners. Orders being screamed across the road, crowds thronging for some phirni, and a guy frying malpuas with the precision of a circus artist. The malpuas were deliciously greasy, not too sweet, and the malai on top added so much more. 
Must Try - Their Doodhi Halwa and seasonal favourite Mango Phirni.



5. Taj Ice Cream
Taj ice cream is an ice cream shop nestled in history. This over 125 year old family run business, doles out one of the best ice creams in the city. Fresh, fruit based flavours, all hand churned using the old sancha technique - you don't get ice creams like these anymore. Your first bite of the ice cream instantly transports you back in time, these are the ice creams of my childhood. Smooth, creamy consistency, with no ice crystals making the dessert watery, and a lot of pieces of fresh fruit within adding bite. 
Must Try - ALL their fruit based flavours, especially the mango, pineapple, guava and chikoo. Skip the conventional chocolate variants here.



This Ramadan Food Walk was done in association with Saifee Burhani Upliftment Trust (SBUT) who are working actively towards the redevelopment of the Bhendi Bazaar area. You can read more about their work on their website here.

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