I’ve been a resident of Juhu ever since we shifted to Mumbai in the year 2004, and yet it is an area I have explored the least. Maybe because we tend to take things for granted and keep delaying our plans. In fact the only few times I have been to Juhu Beach is when some relative or friends from outside of Mumbai come over and want to do the customary Juhu Beach visit! The first time I had visited Juhu Beach was in 2004 when we were still staying in the hotel. Our family friend’s and our family who had moved to Mumbai from a small town in Assam decided to check out this much acclaimed place and also “dine” there! After the obvious making sand castles and buying balloons and feeling overtly excited after seeing the sea for the first time in our lives, we settled to eat the famous pav-bhaji and tawa pulao and all that jazz, only to be diagnosed with stomach infection post that. There ended my love for all things Juhu Beach.
Anyway, I digress. So, after having grown up in this area, I was unaware of the fact that in Vile Parle (west) lies a Khau Gully (a street dedicated to food). Yes, I know you must be thinking that I should be ashamed of myself, and well, I am. No, seriously.
A few days back some friends suggested that we check out this Khau Gully and I jumped on the opportunity only to reach there and realise that the place I had been crossing for tuitions in school and to buy my school text books and fabrics etc, was actually known as the Khau Gully! I used to call it by its christened name i.e Bajaj Road.
Anyway, with the guilt slightly receding and hunger-pangs taking precedence over everything, we started with the Kutch Bhuj Dabeli Stall which is a few steps ahead of the McDonalds (yes, it works more like a landmark), and is apparently forty years old. Dabeli is a popular snack that finds its origins in the Kutcch area of Gujarat. A pav stuffed with boiled potatoes mixed in a special dabeli masala with finely chopped onions, rubies of pomegranate and spiced peanuts and then toasted on a tava with loads of Amul Butter, it is a quick go-to filling snack. This dabeli was near perfect to how I like it – sweet and spicy and crunchy till the last bite.
We also tried the Chinese bhel, a concept which I think finds its roots in Mumbai. A mixture of crunchy fried noodles and juliennes of vegetables like cabbage, capsicum and carrots in loads of synthetic schezwan sauce (fake and oh so delicious!). The colour of this “bhel” is exactly how one would describe a literal “red face!” It was priced at Rs. 20 a plate. I remember during my school days this used to cost Rs. 10 a plate and was quite the rage amongst my school crowd. We had this at A-1 Shri Krishna Stall, who also served “Chinese pakodas” which is nothing but manchurian balls served with a fiery red schezwan sauce. I prefer Chinese bhel to the latter.
Before moving on to the next stalls we decided to satiate our thirst and the fire that the bhel had ignited inside of us with glasses of fresh chilled sugarcane juice. We moved on to Sai Samarth Dosa Centre, which is basically a cart with overpriced dosas. We tried the Mysore masala dosa and the famous jini dosa. What was peculiar about this place was that till about 8PM they play a hide and seek with the BMC vans, where they suddenly vanish when they see it approaching and get back the moment they are out of sight! They even had a dosa called “jhanak-jhanak payal dosa.” Please don’t ask me what it is because when I asked Mr Ravi – the stall owner, he casually said, “Madam, bas ek dhinchak naam hai yeh!” If for nothing, you must check this place out for this.
It was nice to get out of home for a change without any concrete plan in mind and just re-discover the nearby area in a new light. With memories from childhood flooding as I walked on that road and seeing it a new light as an adult. I think I want to take this up as a project and explore Mumbai once again in a new light.
Send me some recommendations if you have any of where I should head next.
Watch the video we made of the food-walk: