Sis and I were brought up on discipline, a routine. Breakfast at the same time, lunch at the same time, followed with afternoon snack and milk, and dinner in the evening. Of course, there was some changes between school days and holidays but a routine was deeply instilled in us. So, I can't eat whenever in the day whatever you put in front of me even if it's the tastiest of snacks or the smallest of portions. A stark contrast to my hubby and in-laws. When we were going to florida, many of you and my friends/family suggested to take a lot of food as I might get hungry out of the blue. But the amount of snacks we carried and the constant snacking, I never got a chance to experience sudden pangs of hunger. I felt full all the time in fact.
But this is not a complaint this is an observation. It must be something in the Mumbai water that makes Mumbaikers ever so snack-crazy! Mumbai is a truly cosmopolitan city where all the cultures of India meet. And one of the highlights of India is its diversity of food! One would need to be snacking all the time for a whole lifetime to sample the many snacks the various communities in India have!
Even though my family and my in-laws share a common state as a root, just differences in the food we have is such a contrast. Just imagine now the rest of the billion people and their snacks they bring to the table! The best place to sample just some of this is by the street in Mumbai.
Street food has come a long way in the last two decades in Mumbai. I wouldn't know, but I hear from others. Just as I refuse to break my routine at times with my hubby and MIL, I have to put up a fight of "NO!" whenever I would be in Mumbai with my uncle & aunt who are pakka-Mumbaikers (Pakka = pure/true). The would be constantly stopping everywhere sharing each stall, or restaurant which is known for this or that snack. They would buy so much and then we would have to eat. I know, poor us!
But because of our few visits to Mumbai, we rarely sampled street food in the city. My aunt would make some of them at home. We would have wada pav
, bhel puri
, pav bhaji
at home. One thing though aunt would refuse to make at home was panipuri
. She and uncle would argue that there is nothing like having it standing by the sidewalk, watching the street vendor stuffing each puri and being served amidst a crowd savouring the same snack! They would refuse to even have us try it at a restaurant. One cannot sanitize this snack was her argument.
Ah well... time went on and I forgot about this one snack. I wasn't so interested anyhow. There were tonnes of other stuff to sample! After marriage things changed. I married a Mumbaiker afterall! We had after marriage and in our later visit to India visited many of his local friends and got to sample some authentic delicious Gujarati & Marathi snacks. However, for the best panipuri, we hit the streets.
The street vendors that N
grew up with are still around. Some have been around for two decades, serving up the same stuff. Now the difference in many is the sign posted up, "made with bisleri" (Bisleri is a common bottled water company). We weren't very sure which aspect of the served items used bisleri. But somehow that gave us some reassurance and we stopped at the popular stall in Matunga to have panipuri! Oh it was absolutely delicious! I did have pani puri at people's homes.
But my aunt is right. It's nothing compared to having it standing around the streetstall with ten other people being served one puri after another! You can take a look at Arun's blog
for an idea of a street stall. As you see, every Mumbaiker has his/her opinion of what is best, and where is best! ;) ( Read more... )