Binge On A Budget
As any foodie will attest, Mumbai’s gastronomic scene thrives as much because of its bhelpuriwallahs and vada pao stands as it does because of its cafes and fine dining restaurants. In our quest to find 50 cheap and cheerful bites for under Rs100, we scoured dhabas, street stalls, cafes and delis, and polled a variety of foodies who regularly frequent these haunts (and it should be said that none of us fell sick over the course of reporting). What we found varied from good deals (thali lunches for Rs65) to the slightly off-beat (Chinese dosa), while a substantial portion seemed to inventively stretch just how far Rs100 can go (Crystal, anyone?). We also asked 15 chefs, restaurant owners and food bloggers where they go for a cheap bite, and got four others to show us what they could whip up for less than Rs100. Meanwhile, our intrepid columnist Matt Daniels shared his unique method for judging a stall’s hygiene levels, and writer Roshni Bajaj Sanghvi scoured the city for the most unusual idli inventions. What are your favourite street-food joints? Tell us in the comments section.
1.Mutton Pattice at Sunshine Snack Corner
This old-time snack joint has been specialising in mostly non-veg Parsi treats since it was set up in the 1970s. Its best-selling mutton pattice, a flaky pastry oblong filled with a masala mix of veggies and meat, usually sells out by late afternoon. Rs20.
Shop No.13, Hampton Court Building, Wodehouse Road, Colaba. Tel: 2215 0787.
2. Caramel Custard at Britannia
Regulars swear by this legendary caramel custard, which sits in a bed of treacly burnt sugar, is never eggy and always the perfect creamy consistency. Rs80.
11 Sprott Road, Ballard Estate. Tel: 2261 5264/3022 5264.
3. Baida Roti at Ayub’s
The baida roti at this late-night snack joint can sober up the drunkest of revelers. Slather the potent green and red chutney on the egg-stuffed roti for a spicy kick. Rs70.
43 Dr V. B. Gandhi Marg, near Rhythm House, Fort. Tel: 6516 3607.
4. Kerala Chicken at Taste of Kerala
This is where Keralites come when they want a (non-veg) taste of home. The fiery, dry chicken masala is garnished with deep-fried curry leaves, and accompanied with a side of dal, coconut curry, mixed veggies and mango pickle. Order a plate of rice for Rs22 and you have a complete meal. Rs95 (Rs73 for the Kerala chicken plus Rs22 for plain rice).
6/A Prospect Chambers Annex, Pitha Street, near Citi Bank, Fort. Tel: 2204 4545.
5. Veg Thali at Hotel Deluxe
Hotel Deluxe, with rickety communal tables, is a no-frills joint specialising in South Indian food. Regulars swear by their veg thali served on a banana leaf, which comes with unlimited helpings of rice and sambhar plus coconut cabbage, green beans, potato curry, a curd-based pumpkin stew, rasam and payasam. Rs65.
10-A, Pitha Street, near Citi Bank, Fort. Tel: 2204 2351.
6. Kheema Pao at Cafe Military
This Irani dhaba is a favourite for its value-for-money Parsi food. We recommend the mutton kheema, which is flavourful and non-greasy, and best mopped up with a side of pao. Rs65 (Rs55 for kheema plus Rs10 for the pao.)
Ali Chamber, Meadows Street, near Trishna Restaurant, Fort. Tel: 2265 4181.
7. Bailey’s Cream Cake at Café Churchill
A family recipe that was first concocted 17 years ago, the Bailey’s cream cake is the perfect layering of Bailey’s-drenched chocolate cake and cold cream. The kick of cherry liqueur makes for the perfect finish. Rs80.
103-8, East West Court Building, opposite Cusrow Baug, Shahid Bhagat Singh Road/Colaba Causeway. Tel: 2284 4689.
8. Ginger Cake with Cream at Kala Ghoda Cafe
This thick and crunchy slice of ginger cake is best had warm, with a generous pouring of cream. Rs95.
10, Ropewalk Lane, opposite Trishna, Kala Ghoda. Tel: 2263 3866.
9. Chocolate Mousse at Ideal Corner
This dense creamy pot of semi-dark chocolate has a slight rum undertone. The chocolate shavings are an added bonus. Rs45.
12 F/G, Hornby View, Gunbow Street, Fort. Tel: 2262 1930.
10. Chicken Tikka Roll at Pritam Da Dhaba
This chicken roll, made only post 5pm, contains a spicy mix of tangy green chutney, onions and chicken pieces rolled in a thin roti. Rs79.
Pritam Da Dhaba, Dadar (East). Tel: 2414 3311.
11. Panki at Swati Snacks
There are many bestsellers at this legendary Mumbai restaurant serving quintessential city street food. If you have to choose, then opt for the panki, a dosa-like creation made of moong dal, which comes steaming hot and wrapped in banana leaves. Rs100.
248, Karai Estate, opposite Bhatia Hospital, Tardeo. Tel: 6580 8405.
12. Foccacia Fungi at Wich Latte
This mushroom-stuffed sandwich, finished off with sprouts and tomatoes, and drizzled with a garlic-y sauce, is served on toasted rosemary focaccia. Rs90.
Opposite Cusrow Baug, Colaba Causeway, Colaba. Tel: 6525 4827.
13. Chinese Dosa at Ramu’s Dosa
Ramu’s Chinese dosa will have you believing that dosa and noodles are meant to be served together. Spicy Schezwan noodles are so carefully placed in the centre of a crispy dosa that, amazingly, they never fall out. Skip the coconut chutney unless you want a flavor clash. Rs60.
In front of the Blackberry store, near Kareem’s restaurant, off Carter Road, Khar.
14. Chicken Egg Roll at Hangla’s
Pepper and chopped red chillis lend sharpness to the chicken, wrapped in a thick flour roti made with an egg. Perfect for an after-party binge. Rs75.
Opposite Royal Accord, near Swami Samarth Mandir, Lokhandwala, Andheri (West). Tel: 77383 64230. Also in Powai (93240 38854), Bandra (77383 64250) and Malad (3223 1415).
15. Vada Pao at Anand Stall
Apart from its giant size, this vada pao stands out from others in the city for the smear of butter and fiery mix of dry garlic and red chilli chutney. Add salt and lime, and sprinkle whole green chillis to the snack if you’re feeling adventurous. Rs15.
Opposite Mithibai College, JVPD Scheme, Vile Parle (West). Tel: 98677 06965.
16. Samosas at Punjab Sweet House
The lightly-spiced mashed potato filling comes with a generous sprinkling of caraway seeds. Dip your samosas into the sweet and spicy tamarind chutney to make the perfect snack. Rs16 (for a plate of two).
Dhiraj Arcade, 84 Pali Naka, Bandra (West). Tel: 2640 2221.
17. Chicken Frankie at Quality Picnic
Spicy chicken masala is generously stuffed into a flour roti made with egg. Ask the cook to add chopped green chillis for that extra kick. Rs45.
Ground Floor, Meghdoot Building, Linking Road, opposite Regal Footwear, near McDonald’s, Khar. Tel: 2646 5335/2646 5373.
18. Chocolate Chip Brownie at Theobroma
Double chocolate goodness in a buttery brownie. Rs45.
Shop 24, Cusrow Baug, Colaba Causeway. Tel: 2288 0101.
19. Hazel Dazzle at Mad Over Donuts
The chocolate-coated doughnut scores on freshness and taste. Pop it into the microwave for five seconds or until the Nutella oozes out of its spongy centre. Rs45.
At outlets across the city. See here for locations.
20. Apple Buttermilk Muffin at Salt Water Cafe
A wholesome and crumbly breakfast muffin made sweet from apple essence and raisins. Walnut bits lend crunch to the soft cake. Rs70.
Rose Minar Annexe, 87, Chapel Road, next to Mount Carmel Church, Bandra Reclamation, Bandra (West). Tel: 2643 4441.
21. Kheer Kodom at Sweet Bengal
The rich Bengali confection made of hardened cow’s milk conceals a mini rasgulla at its centre. Rs17.
Kenwood Building, Ambedkar Road, next to Brownie Point, Bandra (West). Tel: 2646 0621.
22. Mutton Roll at J Hearsch & Co.
Spiced minced mutton and onions packed into a soft, six-inch-long bread roll. It’s great to serve at parties. Rs25.
90/A, next to Holy Family Hospital, Hill Road, Bandra (West). Tel: 2643 5361.
23. Bombay Masala Slice at Ray’s Café and Pizzeria
A thin crust pizza smeared with fresh tomato paste is topped with Ray’s special blend of cheeses and a tangy masala powder. Rs85.
Gazebo House, behind Godrej Nature’s Basket, 133 Hill Road, Bandra (West). Tel: 2645 1414.
24. Tender Coconut Ice Cream at Natural Ice Cream
The perfect antidote to the sweltering summer. Bits of grated coconut lend a nice grainy texture to this ice cream. Rs37.
Shop No.4, Kothari Heights, Dr. D. B. Marg, opposite Reliance Mall, near Shagun Restaurant, Mumbai Central. Tel: 2300 4646. See here for other locations.
25. Barley Salad at The Mumbai Deli
A great lunch-to-go option, this salad of barley, zucchini, tomato and chives comes lightly seasoned with mixed herbs and chilli flakes. Rs56.
6, Madhav Bhavan, opposite Kamala Mills, Tulsi Pipe Road, Lower Parel. Tel: 6529 3154.
26. Pesarattu Dosa at Café Madras
A large, crispy green moong dal dosa stuffed with lightly-fried onions and green chillis. They serve it with sambhar and chutney, but it tastes best with their spicy molaga podi (a dry chutney). Rs42.
38/II Circle House, Bhau Daji Road, King’s Circle. Tel: 2401 4419.
27. Bun Puri at Anand Bhavan
An Anand Bhavan invention, the bun puri tastes like a cross between sweet bread and a puri. Although it’s served as a savoury item with a portion of coconut chutney, the sugary, deep-fried dish works better as dessert. Rs20.
461/A Ram Niwas, Maheshwari Udyan, Dr. Ambedkar Road, King’s Circle. Tel: 2401 5745.
28. Khicha Churi at Bhagat Tarachand
Crushed khicha papad (a combination of whole grains such as jowar, nachni and millet) and deep-fried onions are seasoned with red chilli powder, chaat masala and coriander to create a great tea-time snack. Rs75.
Mumbadevi Commercial Centre, 69/75 Zaveri Bazaar, near Mumbadevi Temple, Kalbadevi. Tel: 2242 5483.
29. Chicken Croissant at Croissants Etc.
French people would balk at this bastardised version of the croissant, but forget the croissant bit and you have a delicious crescent-shaped piece of buttery bread stuffed with chicken tikka filling. Rs45.
Susvagatam, opposite Diamond Garden, Chembur Colony, Chembur (East). Tel: 2528 1679.
30. Original Hummus and Pita at Falafel’s Veg Hummus House
Falafel’s hummus is not just creamy but also fresh (it’s made every day). They serve it with a single pita but you can get another piece for just Rs20. Rs78.
98 Hill Road, next to St. Andrew’s Church, Bandra (West). Tel: 2645 8000.
31. Puneri Misal at Vinay Health Home
Their version of the Maharashtrian tea-time snack includes sprouts, peanuts, chivda, lime and coriander and a secret ingredient that has made this spicy mix served with warm pao a hit with mill workers, politicians and film stars. Rs32.
Jawahar Mansion, Dr. Babasaheb Jayakar Marg, Fanaswadi. Tel: 2208 1211.
32. Chicken Shawarma at Lebanese Point
The chicken is perfectly cooked, seasoned with pepper, drenched with lime, wrapped in soft pita and served with creamy garlic sauce. Ask for the shawarma without the fries, which tend to be soggy. Rs90.
Tana Kutir Building, Shop No.3, between 18th Road and 17th Road, near Neelam store, Khar Danda. Tel: 6529 0303.
33. Dahi Bata Puri at Karachi Sweets
Bottled water and gloves are used in the preparation of this beloved street snack that is served with chilled dahi. The puris are stuffed with potatoes, boondi and garnished with sweet and spicy chutney, sev, coriander and chaat masala. Rs50.
55 Homeland Apartments, Shop No.13, opposite Bandra Medical Stores, Hill Road, Bandra (West). Tel: 2643 4905.
34. Aloo Paratha at Nandu’s
This “paratha house” became a Pune institution on the strength of its hefty aloo parathas, now a favourite among office goers and college kids around Horniman Circle. Rs60.
19, Sonawala Building, opposite Old Custom House, Green Street, Fort. Tel: 2270 2265.
35. Bombay Double Fudge Chunk gelato at Amore
Known as the Super Fudge Chunk in the rest of the world, this irresistible blend of creamy white and dark chocolate with crunchy walnut pieces is called the Bombay Double Fudge Chunk in India because it proved particularly popular in Mumbai. Rs69 for a small scoop.
Available at Amore outlets across the city. See the full list here.
36. Chicken Momos at Sernyaa
Sernyaa’s hearty steamed chicken momos, a popular dumpling dish from the North East, will have you going, “more, more”. Rs75.
185, Adarsh Nagar, Oshiwara Link Road, near Jain Party Hall, Andheri (West). Tel: 6574 1005.
37. Idlis at Idli House
You go to A. Rama Nayak’s Udipi Shri Krishna Boarding for the limited thali (Rs42) when you want a quick but filling and authentic South Indian meal. But if it’s a snack you’re looking for, you head to Idli House, where you get about 15 varieties ranging from the plain to the sweet jackfruit idli. Other options include the Mysore rava idli, the dry fruit-filled kanjeevaram idli, the spicy pepper idli, the hybrid upma-idli, and the coconut-laden undi idli. Rs18-Rs25 each.
462 Ram Bhavan opposite Jain Temple, Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar Road, Maheshwari Udyan/King’s Circle, Matunga (East). Tel: 3246 0111.
38. Malai Kulfi at New Kulfi Centre
Chowpatty food institution New Kulfi Centre turned 50 last year and the one thing that hasn’t changed over the last five decades is the consistency of their malai kulfi, which remains arguably the creamiest in the city. (Tip: though it might look nicer, don’t order your ice cream in a matka, it takes too long to thaw even in the muggy Mumbai weather. Rs25.
Next to Sukh Sagar, Girgaon Chowpatty. Tel: 2368 4291.
39. Meal for Two at Crystal
Never mind the rumours that it’s going to shut down; when you want comfort food on a budget, all roads still lead to Crystal, where the kitchen continues to churn out dishes that taste like they were made out of your own home. We recommend ordering the palak paneer or baingan bharta, with dal fry and a couple of chapatis each. Rs96. (Rs45 for palak paneer or baingan bharta plus Rs35 for the dal fry and Rs16 for four chapatis.)
Near Wilson College, Girgaon Chowpatty. Tel: 2369 1482.
40. Punjabi Thali at Guru Da Dhaba
Choose a dal (we’ve always picked the unbeatable rajma), skip the paneer and gobi-alu and ask for the karela-aloo and sarson da saag instead. With three chapatis, a generous portion of rice, masala chaas and raw onions with tangy mint chutney on the side, Guru Da Dhaba’s thali is fresh, wholesome and delicious. Rs90.
Shop No.1, Kamdhenu Shopping Centre, First Cross Road, Lokhandwala Complex, Andheri (West). 2632 0440.
41. Puri Bhaji at Hotel Shree Ram
No one asks for menus at the no-frills, working-class establishment. Some come for the samosa-pao, some for the medu-vada. We recommend the puri bhaji – potato bhaji spiced with jeera, mustard seeds and green chillies, served with five piping hot puris that are so crisp you want to eat them on their own. Rs30.
Next to Shiv Prasad, ahead of Mahalaxmi Station, Saat Rasta/Jacob’s Circle. Tel: 2307 6709.
42. Veg Cheese Grilled Sandwich at Right Place
Potatoes, tomatoes, capsicum and onions are piled together, spiced with pepper and chutney, and then grilled in two large slices of sandwich bread to make the most popular (and filling) lunch-on-the-run for Breach Candy office-goers. Rs70.
Opposite Breach Candy Hospital, Warden Road. 2367 0885.
43. Limbu Puri at Kisan
There is your regular bhelpuri-sevpuriwala and then there is Kisan. While you can have samosa chaat and kanjiwada here (both delicious), Kisan offers the hard-to-find limbu puri. Shallow pani puris are filled with potatoes, boiled channa and moong and topped with lots of lime juice, chaat masala and cilantro. Lime-heads, pucker up. Rs20.
Sopariwala Estate, Shop No.11, 296 Tata Road No.2, opposite Central Plaza cinema, Girgaum. Tel: 98692 49558/2240 2794.
44. Ragda Pattice at Bhelpuri House
With patties fried in “shuddh ghee” and chutneys made with “Bisleri water”, Dhaniram R. Sharma’s streetside ragda pattice is both hedonistic and hygienic. His sales pitch probably comes from having sated over two generations of happy customers. Rs40.
528 Jambulwadi, Kalbadevi Road. Tel: 93223 20850.
45. Chicken Frankie at Aga Brothers
Tibb’s Frankies has outlets all over the city, but after eating at the one at the Aga Brothers stall, anywhere else is a waste of calories. Hover over the open-air counter, and supervise your chicken Frankie, which they make with amchur powder, onions, chutney and vinegar-soaked chillis. Rs45.
16A Cusrow Baug, Colaba Causeway. Tel: 2283 0692.
46. Paneer Masala at Punjab Sind Paneer Centre
As the good folks at PSPC wrap up your order of “Indian cottage cheese”, get them to chop 100gms of the stuff, sprinkle it with their own magical masala and snack as you shop. Toothpicks provided. Rs24.
622 Durga Niwas, Khar Pali Road, near Khar Telephone Exchange, Khar (West). Tel: 2600 6333. Also at Breach Candy, Lokhandwala and Kandivali.
47. Masala Pao at Manohar Paobhaji
Butter-soaked pao is torn into chunks and topped with more buttery, spicier bhaji, and served with wedges of lime and strips of red onion. In its gloriously thick texture, it’s the pao bhaji version of chicken tikka masala. Rs65.
104 Girgaum Naka, opposite St Theresa’s Church, Girgaum. Tel: 2361 6943.
48. Mirchi Kachori Chaat at Kailash Parbat
Fiery, whole green chilli pakodas, doused in yogurt, and two chutneys: Sindhi tamarind masala and cool cilantro-lime. Ask them to leave out the kachoris from the plate and have only the chilli pokodas for an extra endorphin rush. Rs40.
5 Sheela Mahal, First Pasta Lane, Colaba. Tel: 2287 5222.
49. Jalebi Papdi at Mumbadevi Jalebiwala
Swirls of fermented dough are fried in a shallow vat of ghee and dipped into a saffron-scented syrup. Offset the sugariness with salty, crunchy, thick papdi at this jalebiwala, whose shop has been around for over a century. Rs20.
77 Kulfi House, Zaveri Bazaar. Tel: 2242 4075.
50. Jhaal Mudi at Kishanlal’s Calcutta Special
Kishanlal moved to Mumbai from Kolkata over two decades ago. Since then, he has been seen every evening under the same tree off Marine Drive, selling his crunchy bhel spiked with peanuts, garam masala and a Bangla staple – lashings of raw mustard oil. Rs25.
95 Parijat, G Road, Marine Drive. Tel: 93248 21573.