If you’re visiting Mumbai and are really looking to get a taste of the city, avoid trawling Colaba’s tourist spots for fry-ups and cereal, try breakfast the way true-blue Mumbaikars have it. From students to businessmen, everyone has their favourite grab-and-go Pav in Mumbai. The word Pav has been borrowed from the Portuguese word for bread – ‘Pao’ and is inspired by their bread-rolls. But they will probably be awe-struck to see what we have done to the humble bread. Try one or more of these dishes completed with Mumbai’s signature Pav (bread bun). It is a crime to have these in Air-Conditioned restaurants, best had from the alfresco style stalls on the city streets.
This specialty dish originated in Mumbai for the convenience of textile mill workers of the city and Mumbai undoubtedly makes the most finger-licking Pav Bhaji in the world! Bhaji is mashed boiled mixed vegetables (mainly potatoes, peas, tomatoes, onions and capscicum) cooked in spices and straddled by a slab of butter. The Pav served with it is shallow fried in even more butter and served with lemon and chopped onions. Squeeze some lemon on the bhaji and dig in with your fingers. It’s a week’s worth of butter but worth every calorie! Sometimes cheese and paneer (cottage cheese) are added to make it more sinful.
Though widely available at local restaurants and beachside stalls, I can guarantee you will lick your fingers at:
– Sardar’s – 166-A Tardeo Road Junction, Tulsiwadi, near Tardeo bus depot
– Amar Juice Centre – No.3, Gulmohar Rd, Beside Kupar Hospital, Vile Parle West
Missal Pav is a rustic dish, quintessentially from Pune and specially popular among the local Maharashtrians for breakfast. A mix of curried sprouted lentils, topped with batata (potato) bhaji, poha (rice flakes), chivda, farsan, raw chopped onions and tomato. Though these by no means are the mandatory or fixed ingredients. Every outlet has its own unique recipe and at the same place, the taste is always consistent. This hot and spicy dish might be the tastiest and the most underrated something-Pav from Mumbai.
You get great ones at:
– Vinay Health Home, 71/83, Jawahar Mansion, Fanaswadi-Thakurdwar Corner, Girgaum
– Mamledar’s Misal Pav : Located at mamledar’s office (local council/municipal), exactly opposite Thane Police Station
This one you have surely heard about, often known as Mumbai’s burger – Vada Pav is definitely the King of Pavs satiating million hungry tummies every day. Potato patties mashed with garlic, chillies and coriander are dipped in besan (chickpea flour), deep fried and then then laid in Pav that’s spread with coriander chutney and sprinkled with garlic and chilli powder. An added touch is a plate of rock-salted fried green chillies, which aren’t nearly as fiery as you might think.
Almost every lane has a Vada Pav seller and every locality has it’s favourite. It is no wonder that organised chains such as Goli and Jumbo King have sprung up and have started making exotic variations of the humble Vada Pav.
I wouldn’t dare to declare the best Vada Pav in the city but can vouch for these two:
– Anand, opposite Mithibai College, Gulmohar Road, Vile Parle West.
– Ashok Satam’s Stall, on the Flora Fountain side of the Central Telegraph Office (CTO), Fort.
Brun, Broon or Kadak Pav
One of the many gifts the Bawa gave Mumbai’s palette is the iconic Brun Maska. Brun translates to Bread and Maska to butter. You may wonder how different and special can bread and butter be? But this is no ordinary bread and this is no ordinary butter. It’s Brun, Gutli or Kadak Pav – crisp and crumbly on the outside and soft inside. The butter is not just applied on the Brun, copious amount of butter is slathered on the sliced Brun. Some even prefer to sprinkle sugar on it. Dipping the Kadak Pav in a cup of sweet Irani chai is the only way to have it.
You can find these at all Irani cafes but the most historic ones are at:
– Kyani & Co, 657 Jer Mahal Estate, Opp. Metro Cinema, Dhobi Talao.
– Yazdani Bakery, 11/11-A, Cawasji Patel Street, Fort.
It is difficult to have a Samosa and not fall in love with it. If you mind treadmill-ing an extra week to offset the samosa calories, do not try it. Lovingly shaped into triangles, the crisp crusts of samosa is stuffed with steaming chunks of spiced potatoes and peas. This deep fried deliciousness seems to have originated from Central India. In Mumbai we put our Samosa between the versatile Pav and voila you have a complete meal.
Tough to pick my favourite, but you can get very very good ones at:
– Guru Kripa Hotel, 40, Guru Kripa Building, near SIES College, Sion
– Punjab Sweet House, Pali Naka, Bandra west
Kheema Pav, another Iranian speciality. Minced mutton cooked with onions, garlic, tomatoes, chillies and spices takes on many avatars. Topped with a crisply fried sunny side up egg, it is called kheema single fry. And scrambled with eggs, it is called ghotala. While most other breakfasts can be found all over the city, Kheema Pav deserves a visit to South Bombay.
Soak in some history and start with breakfast at:
– Olympia Coffee House, Rahim Mansion, 1 SB Singh Rd, Colaba
– Stadium Restaurant, IMC Building, Veer Nariman Road, Churchgate
Anda Bhurji or Egg Bhurji is basically a nastier, spicier version of scrambled eggs. The best way to start the day but an equally appropriate way to end a long night, the one that goes on till wee hours. Fluffy eggs are scrambled with onion, tomato, green chilies, fresh coriander leaves and each stall-owners secret combination of spices. The Pav is slit open and buttered, sometimes griddled to golden crispness. Pile on the steaming hot eggs and dabs of tangy, coriander chutney and enjoy a filling meal.
The one I highly recommend is
– Suresh’s special bhurji Pav stall right outside Andheri (west) station. It opens at 11 pm and stays busy till breakfast hours.
Kanda Bhajia Pav though available round the year tastes better in monsoons. Simply translated they are onion pakoras or onion fritters sandwiched between a Pav and served with dry garlic chutney or green chutney and with fried green chilies.The edges of the Bhajiya bring in the required crispiness and the chutney adds zing to the stack stuffed inside the pav. It is the no-one-can-eat-just-one kind of snack.
Omlette with diced onions, a pinch of salt, mirchi powder and garam masala accompanied with hunks of Pav. Night birds, clubbers and pretty much anyone who’s looking for a meal to cure hangover or hunger will keep coming back to Omlette Pavs. Best had when it is steaming hot straight out of the tawa.
– Vijay’s stall outside the main entrance of Churchgate station is extremely popular. His stall does not have a name, just ask around for the Omlette-Pav man.
These are the most popular Pav dishes in Mumbai but enterprising local chefs are constantly inventing new dishes that stay unique to them or gain mainstream popularity. Masala Pav, is made by stuffing spicy tomato-onion gravy inside butter-laden pavs.Hot-dog Pav, is a variation of Pav bhaji, Pav with pieces of potato, tomato and onion, topped with some spice. Baida Pav or Anda Pav is used to refer to Omlette Pav or to hard-boiled egg stuffed inside a Pav. While these seem extremely simple to make, I would say don’t try these at home and even if you do – know, they will never taste the same 🙂
Which is you favuorite thing to put between Pav?