This year has been special, very special. Ramadan feasts have always held a special place in my heart, after all it’s not too often that you have a non-veg extravaganza of this magnitude in one place. Guess most carnivorous foodies like me wait for this month eagerly throughout the year. Why is this year so special then? Well, not only did I go for my annual gastronomical pilgrimage to Minara Masjid/Bohri Mohalla in Mumbai, but could also pull off a double whammy — visited the famous Mosque Road @ Fraser Town, Bangalore as well. Yeaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahooooooooooooooooo !!!
‘You got see it to believe it’ claimed TOI and yes, they were close. Though not as large as in Mumbai, they still manage to get about 5000 people every night, from all community and class, for the feast. Definitely, an experience to remember!!
It’s a short drive to Mosque Road, Frazer Town, from MG Road. The amazing aroma of kebabs etc. hit you way before you even reach, making your stomach growl in anticipation and delight. For me the biggest attraction there were the ‘exotic’ (as well as the traditional) stuff that we don’t get here in Mumbai – camel meat kebabs, Haleem, Mutton Samosas etc. etc!! Beats Mumbai for sure in the range and the ‘exotic’ quotient. I was definitely not disappointed.
There are about 30 odd shops on either side of the mosque – mainly concentrated on the opposite roadside with 3 blocks of stall selling all kinds of stuff. You enter a place filled with smoke, with a mix of aromas that make your head spin trying to figure out what is what. I started with the ‘a’ modest Mutton Samosa, tasty because of the crust which kind of melts in the mouth, but very little kheema that makes you long for more. A quick round to check out the delicacies on offer was like a treasure hunt. Spotted a shop with a ‘Camel Meat’ sign. This was the starting point — they had 2 options, chops and sheekhs and I opted for the latter. Barbequed over a bed of coal, it was succulent and fantastic, though frankly the taste was nothing very different than beef. Next was beef tikka … a huge plate full of juicy chucks of beef cooked with strong masala for less than Rs 50. Could finish about half and passed the rest to a beggar nearby. I was not going to fill up my stomach with only 1 or 2 items.
Another quick round brought me to shops selling sweets. Desserts, I said to myself. Crossed the street to Charminar, one of the oldest shops there – packed with people drinking tea and hareem (a special milk drink). I opted for grilled Mutton Chops – 2 large ones, dripping in its own juice, spicy but not hot. Had a long chat with the cook who told me that today was the 27th day of Ramadan – apparently a very special day for feasting just prior to Id (which is just 4 days away). Lucky me!!!!
Soon came across the mosque for which this place was famous. Couple of snaps and back in action. Next item was a speciality of this place – pathar gosht! Small pieces of boneless mutton / beef cooked over a large stone which is placed over a charcoal fire. Not very original or different, but it works. The meat is a little dry & crisp, but tasty none the less. This was followed by some beef sheekhs and not to be missed – the famous ‘Hyderabadi Haleem’ (meat & wheat and other ingredients slowly cooked together for 8-10 hours). It was absolutely fantastic — the smooth texture and strong flavor left such an aftertaste that you didn’t want to have anything afterwards.
‘Almost full’ would be an understatement! But as I always maintain, every stomach comes with separate compartment for food and deserts. How can you get out of this place without having the traditional Firni & the local favorite – ‘Qurbani Ka Meetha’ (a very sweet dish made of apricots in sugar syrup). The latter was not really for me …. So to make up for it by having a serving of Shahi Tukra.
People can call me a glutton or worse, but a Ramadan feast is as close to ‘nirvana’ a carnivore like me can get to. A couple of anti-acid tablets and a coke – part of my survival kit post such a meal – I lumbered to my hotel to hit the bed as quickly as possible!
Next year, I need to better my record – it needs to be 3 different cities for the Iftar feast. I’d want Hyderabad & Delhi to be added to my list. Will try not to disappoint – not you all, but me 😉