Saturday, August 25, 2007

Food with a Mumbai 'chaap'

Many years ago when the dosa wala near August Kranti Maidan was sprinkling soya sauce and noodles onto a sada dosa calling it Chinese dosa, I could believe it as this is what Mumbai does to its food. She invents it here, hands it over to the others and doesn’t even patent it. This is just what happened to Nelson Wang’s Manchurian and we have many examples of Mumbai introducing quintessential food and leaving a Mumbai chaap to it. And that is more than our Vada Pav, Pav Bhaji and Bhel which has got its due and is dished out in many towns as Bombay Bhel or Bombay Pav Bhaji.

The Iranis might have brought the know how of baking from Iran but the Bun Maska ( soft , sweet bread with butter), Brun Maska ( hard bread with butter) and Khari would still remain Mumbai brands. Bomi Hormusji Irani whose grandfather started B. Merwan and Co at Grant Road confirms this and says “ You will find the Brun , Bun and Khari ninety percent in Mumbai only” He says that these must have been introduced somewhere between 1910-1914 when Irani café’s were being set up. .

One more drink very distinctive to Mumbai and to Pune is Raspberry which was introduced by Parsi owned beverage companies like Dukes, Rogers and Framroze & Co in the early 1900’s. This is a dying brand whose availability today is restricted to Parsi weddings and some Irani Cafés.

Juices like Ganga Jamuna , a mix of orange and sweet lime juice and Mara Mari, a mix of sweet lime and pineapple were introduced in Mumbai in the seventies says Ramesh Sondarva, one of the oldest employees of Bachelor’s at Chowpatty which claims to be the oldest juice centre in Mumbai. These were introduced long after the juice outlet opened in 1940. Shekhar Pujari of Sukh Sagar Juice centre adds that it was due to ‘public demand’ that they started serving these two cocktails. The name Ganga Jamuna might draw a parallel from the confluence of two rivers as both the fruits come from the same Citrus family. Mara Mari might have been due to mixing of two fruit juices from different fruit families.

And lastly good ol’ Cutting chai which may be another name for tea but has a unique Mumbai chaap to it. The road-side tea stall in Pune would serve you Amrutulya chaha but the consumption of Mumbai’s cutting chai which actually means cutting one chai into two, not only makes it lighter on the pocket but also lets you finish it off very quickly so that you can get hurriedly refreshed and set off to keep up with Mumbai’s rapid pace.


Arpan Sharma said...

Abodh, you must do a piece on the Irani restaurant that you introduced me to - Kyanis. And particularly its watermelon juice. Everytime I am in Bombay, I make it a point of going back to Kaynis for watermelon juice. There was also Bastanis opposite Kyanis; but I seem to recall that it was shut the last time I visited. Arpan

Strays said...

Read your piece just when i was eating the Bambai bhel puri. DO you think Energy too is a local mumbai brand? haven't seen it anywhere else!

Abodh said...

Yes Arpan , I must get to writing on my most fav Irani cafe. Bastani shut down some time back and I had mentioned that in one of my earliest posts of things that i miss in mumbai.

strays: Yes, of course. I had thought of Energee. In fact I was going to pen it but as I had written this for the HT cafe had to look at the no of words. Should have added it on the blog piece though but didn't end up doing it. I remember how we used to be given Energee in school and loving some flavours and hating others. Also one more Mumbai food that I didn't mention was Tibb's frankie .Again very Bambiyaa I think. Can you think of any more ?

Strays said...

Of course Tibbs!!! I think the Chamosa (this is recent.) To a certain extent the vegetable grill sandwich is also something that isn't easily found on other shores. I dont remember my college in Delhi having anythign like this outside its premises as does St Xaviers in Mumbai.
The "Jain" pav bhaji also has a very mumbai chhap to it.
Im not too sure if this fits into the category but even the Shiv Sagar resaurant chain is very Mumbai specific.

slaint said...

Hi Abodh,
Would you mind posting a link to the meow mumbai blog and/or posting about this cat who needs adoption? I want to spread the word as much as possible!
meowmumbai dot blogspot dot com

Thank you!!!