Now, who doesn’t know about Haji Ali Juice Centre in Mumbai? The joint is probably as iconic as the Dargah itself. Started by Fareed Noorani (he is the same guy who owns Café Noorani down the street)about 40 years ago, this joint has grown from a juice center to a fast food centre selling pizzas, burgers, sandwiches also. All these veg, mind you. I was surprised too when Fareed Chacha (he is an elderly gentleman. ‘Chacha’ felt to be the right word to address him) pointed it out to me. He smiled upon noticing my amazement – run by a Muslim family, but selling veg food!! This city sure doesn’t cease to surprise.
But what he said next surprised me most – I asked him whether he still oversees both the restaurants full-time. He shook his head, saying that he has handed over the baton to his children. Upon prodding further, I discovered that it’s his daughters who run the show now. Believe that!!! Sensing my complete astonishment, he happily added that he has moved with the changing times and has made his daughters capable enough so that they can man his businesses. Wow!! Truly. Only if the rest of the country felt the same way about their daughters!!
We had ordered orange juice and a mango shake. The mango shake was more mango pulp (aam raas) than mango shake. Orange juice was good. But discovered the ‘must-have’ there – the fresh fruits in cream!! They have mangoes in cream, mixed fruits in cream, custard apple in cream. We blurted out that we had never heard of custard apple in cream. Immediately he offered us to taste it. We did. And both Jayant and I converted. We shall remain a Haji Ali Juice Centre loyalist for the rest of our life!!
And to think that I thought that mangoes in cream have been the best creations of man. Wait till you eat their custard apple in cream. You will be transported to the seventh heaven, if there is one. One thing is sure — henceforth, all our Sobo sorties will have a stopover at the Haji Ali Juice Centre. 🙂