Imagine a bustling decades-old street, occupied to the brim with food stalls and shops, some covered in the hissing smoke arising from kebabs on the coal-fired grill, some resonating the cheers that arise every time dough hits hot oil and each one’s lure stronger than the other. There are people everywhere, there’s even more food everywhere. Luscious, rich, heavy food.
That’s Mohammed Ali Road (M. Ali Road) for you in a nutshell.
I had the opportunity to visit M. Ali Road once a couple of years ago during Ramzan, on one of my annual visits to Mumbai. I cannot, for the life of me, remember what I ate but I know I didn’t even come close to doing justice to the place.
Recently, when a few friends in Mumbai mentioned they were going there, it brought back memories. I decided I wanted to dedicate a post to it on the blog but since I couldn’t go there myself (and I seem to be suffering from memory loss), I called on a friend for help.
Because of our mutual love (read: obsession) for food, he’s always been one of my go-to people when it comes to eating out, especially in Mumbai. It also helps that he’s lived in the city all his life.
Provided you have an appetite to match, here’s an account of my friend’s recent visit to this magnificent food street.
First, a word of advice: When you visit M. Ali Road, apply the ‘everything in moderation’ rule. Rather ‘whatever I eat in moderation.’ The sheer amount of choices can leave you seriously overwhelmed. It would be a smart decision to go in a group.
On to the food…
Start with the baida roti, which is flat bread made of white flour stuffed with your choice of chicken or mutton, dipped in egg and pan fried. Chances are a few rotis might be pre-made to keep up with the crowds. So make sure you request for yours to be freshly made. You don’t want a re-fried baida roti.
Another thing you want to order hot off the wok are the chicken/mutton samosas. Insist on having them made freshly made. A cold samosa is so uncharacteristic. If you think you could do with more of the bread and meat combo, a chicken roll is a nice option, where the stuffing is similar to a chicken tikka kebab masala.
The next item on your to-eat list, according to my friend, should be the haleem. Since cow meat is banned in Mumbai, you’ll find haleem made of goat or buffalo meat. My friend tried the badaam haleem, where the meat is stewed in almond paste, and just the thought of it has me drooling.
It’s not iftaar if there are no kebabs. Mutton sheekh kebabs are an absolute must on M.Ali Road. Also try the chicken tikka kebabs, pahadi kebabs, tandoori chicken and mutton kaleji (liver), all of which go best with the side of mint chutney and onions. And if you still haven’t had enough carbs, get a hot double crispy tandoori roti to envelope your kebabs. My friend recommends visiting the corner shop at the entrance of the lane leading up to the Minara Masjid.
The one thing I distinctly remember during my visit to M. Ali Road is walking past these giant malpoas, gloating in all their deep fried glory. How I wish I got my hands on them back then. My friend says malpoas are a signature M. Ali Road treat.
My friend visited the Noorani Milk Centre for his malpoa fix. A double egg malpoa, to be specific, served with a generous helping of rabdi. The badam (almond) milk sold at Noorani, which my friend consumed multiple bottles of, is a great way to wash down all the decadence.
Also for dessert were three types of phirni – regular, chickoo (Sapodilla) and kesar (saffron) flavours. And finally, Äflatoon at Zam Zam Bakery, without which a trip to M. Ali Road will be incomplete, says the friend.
Are you drooling yet?
If you haven’t noticed already, I have no pictures to accompany my friend’s Ramadan chow. What I have instead is a video of those giant malpoas in the making. You’re welcome.
Contrary to popular belief, M. Ali Road is open all year round and not just during Ramzan, although that is when it thrives the most. Looks like I don’t have to wait till Ramzan next year to binge at M. Ali Road.
Have you been to Mohammed Ali Road? Tell me what you’ve been feasting on this Ramzan. The comments section is all yours.