Come Ramazan, and Jayant itches to go to Bohri Mohalla (near Crawford Market) in South Mumbai. It’s been seven Ramazans in Mumbai now, and his excitement doesn’t seem to ebb. In fact, with every passing year, he gets bolder and surer with the food options at the many streets of the Mohalla. For me, it’s the vivacity of the place that is a draw. The bustling streets, the many wares on sale, women haggling over prices, sellers trying to convince passer-bys – Oh, I love the chaos and commotion of Indian bazars.
Proposed an outing to a handful of our friends who ‘jumped’ at the idea!!! All of them were game to drive down for 2 hours from the suburbs on a busy, rainy, water-logged Friday night to savour the exotic offerings at Bohri Mohalla. Barring just one friend, none of them had been to this place that gets written about every Ramazan as a ‘must-visit’. Jayant, being seasoned by now, took charge. Said, we would first go to Barah Handi for the first round and then to Khao Gali for the more exotic and fancier stuff. Everybody nodded in complete agreement and support, happy to be led into gastronomical sin!!
Destination Barah Handi, Opposite Crawford Market: Our cab driver dropped us off adjacent to Crawford Market, around 9pm. Crossed over to the other side and entered the narrow street that has the Kasai Mohalla Masjid. It is easier to spot in the night as the Masjid is illuminated with lights owing to the Holy month. Well, one has to go no further. Aslam Sheikh’s eatery is right there – they have made arrangements for about 114 guests. Famous for his Bara Handi, Nalli Nihari and Pichoda, the joint is being run by the fourth generation Sheikh brothers now. Upon enquiring, I found out that the elder son is a Hotel Management Graduate. And your brother? I asked, clearly amused. He is an under-grad, came the prompt reply. And as the older brother, his father and Chacha (father’s brother) took care of the customer orders, the younger brother seemed to be occupied with paper and pen. He was perhaps keeping the accounts. Our friends swore by the Tandoori Tengri Chicken (Barbequed chicken legs in both green and red spices). And then of course was their speciality, Naans with the gravy from the Barah Handi (Indian breads with 12 different mutton gravy mixed into one) and Nalli Nihari and Pichora, to rave about.
The meal for 8 cost us INR 1,100.
Just as the group was finishing the food, it started raining very heavily. It must have been 10pm. We wanted to walk up to the next destination, Khao Gali adjacent to Minara Masjid but the rain was playing spoilt-sport. In about 15 minutes, it kind of slowed down, but kept drizzling. We decided to take our cab.
Destination Khao Gali, adjacent to Minara Masjid: Well, what an appropriate name!! Khao is ‘eat’ in Hindi, Gali being ‘lane’. While Barah Handi was a stand-alone joint in that street, once you enter Khao Gali after crossing the police’s barricades, you will be amazed to see only eating joints and more eating joints in front of you. All of them serve more or less the same fare. You may choose the one you like best. At Khau Gali, there is no dearth of options and stalls selling ‘exotic’ stuff. Every part of goat (chota) and cow (bada) is cooked with masalas and butter dripping. We went a little ahead and opted for Azad Fast Food which has a permanent shop there. A quick look and we knew we were at the right place!!.
We opted for a variety of stuff so as to maximize our experience. Roasted batoor (quail), chicken tikka, bheja fry, kalaji, mutton bhuna with pav and paranthas. There were still a dozen options left like Gurda (kidneys goats), testicles (Jayant has apparently eaten these in his previous sorties here!!), rolls and baida rotis with mutton etc etc. A few exotic stuff included cow’s intestines and other body parts that can make the most enthusiastic of us squirm. The stall itself is a delight to look at – at least for some of us who are the carnivorous kind. All kind of kababs and full chicken in different marinates; cages full of live teether/baters and more.
Damages here we INR 3,000 for 10 adults (2 of our friends have driven down from Parel upon learning that we here in Khao Gali). A measly amount, you’d cry out, considering the heaviness you feel in your stomach and content you feel in your soul!!
Photos Courtesy — Our friends — Mohammad Chowdhury and Saurabh Arya
Your meal is not complete without desserts at Suleman Usman Mithaiwalla
But before you go to Bohri Mohalla, make sure you are aware of these Dos and Don’ts