20 days into the Holy month of Ramadan, and we finally went for our annual food pilgrimage to Barrah Handi and Minara Masjid in South Mumbai. It has been 8 Ramadans in Mumbai now, and I am proud to say that I have been there every year without fail. And while Ramadan signifies abstinence for the faithfuls, I have to admit, its indulgence me. Over the years we have managed to rub off this indulgence amongst most of our non-veg friends, and so, last evening, eleven of us landed at Crawford Market at 9 in the night, cursing that the next day was a Monday!
Go to Barah Handi first. And so, without much ado, we headed right from Crawford Market, towards J J Flyover and went in through the last lane on the left. You cannot miss the brightly lit tent of the best ‘Barah Handi (12 Vessels)’ restaurant in Mumbai. It is just after the mosque, and have proper seating arrangements. We were surprised that they did a very good job with the rain cover too this year. Unless you land there by 8.30 pm, it will take you some time before you get a table.
The speciality here is the iconic ‘12 Handi’ dish (a little bland honestly) which is an amazing concoction of 12 gravies mixed together and served in a small plate-bowl. I don’t think they use any water in the cooking and every dish here is covered with litres of oil/animal fat. We absolutely love the Nalli Nihari here which has the tastiest gravy, followed by ‘Pichoda’ (backbone) which is the tenderest of meat falling off the bones. Paya is available for Mutton lovers as the former dishes is all ‘bada’ or beef. They serve it with a huge round roti.
Also order grilled chicken here, which they bring from their other outlet just a few metres away at the end of the road. Choose from the Red, Green & White Chicken options. The green one is by far their most popular — one of the juiciest, tastiest barbequed chicken you will ever have – guaranteed.
Now head for Minara Masjid: Follow the road to the first right turn and go out to the Md. Ali Road – underneath the flyover, and walk down to Minara Masjid which is about 10 mins away. The road is crowded and very dirty, so you may be better off being dropped off there (no parking or waiting allowed). Enter though the barricade into a sea of people, shoving … pushing … and eating in equal enthusiasm.
On the right you will have the best sweet shops and on the left, rows of tents with barbeque meats of all kinds. Walk to the middle preferably to avoid the rush and start off with the famous Chota Kebabs in Hindustan Hotel. At Rs. 20 a dozen, you have people queuing for this delicacy whose making is as much a delight to watch as eating it.
A little ahead is the celebrity famous Chinese n Grills. You must and I insist, must have the Mutton Chaap here, their Ramadan special. We had friends almost lick the plate and order repeats till we could not have any more. Nalli Nihari and Gurda Bheja fry (Brains and kidneys) are another two must have here with the roomali rotis. The restaurants nearby serve all kinds of Baida Roti (stuffed bread, fried), dozens of kebabs / tikkas of all kinds and colors, Teetar (Quail) tandoori and what not. Ideally go with a group so that you can order a mix and share.
Desserts at Suleiman: The finale of Part I has to be the amazing deserts at the iconic Suleiman Mithaiwala. We call it ‘Death by Malpua’ – a 5 /10 egg ‘sweet omlette’ deep fried and served with Rabdi which can give a marathoner a heart attack. It’s well … lip smackingly good sadly and you cannot resist having more than that one guilty bite. The next must have here is the Firni (rice pudding).
And finally, make sure you have located the first pharmacy, and gulp down a few gelusils or Pudin_hara. Better still, take a strip along with you!!!