Mumbai is synonymous with street food. You could eat every meal on the street and never tire of the endless varieties of chaat (snacks), drinks and sweets there are to feast on.
But we get it- you’re thinking, street food in India? Surely that’s just an invitation for food poisoning? We spent 6 weeks filming our India series, ate street food throughout that time and didn’t have any problems. It can be done! To help keep Delhi Belly at bay steer well clear of tap water, adopt the local custom of eating with your right hand (at least you know where it’s been) and do your research. Seek out popular stalls that are constantly churning out fresh food and keep activated charcoal tablets on hand in case of any stomach upsets- it’s a wonder drug.
One taste of Mumbai’s street food delicacies and you’ll be convinced the effort was worth it. Diverse, packed with flavour and undoubtedly addictive- the street food in Mumbai is like nowhere else. Here are 4 spots to get you started…
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1. Bombay street sandwich
One of Mumbai’s most popular street foods is the Bombay street sandwich. We love the veg sandwich where slices of vibrant beetroot, cucumber, tomato, boiled potato and onion are sandwiched between two slices of white bread, smeared with butter and then popped into an old school sandwich press and cooked over charcoal.
Served with a dollop of mint and coriander chutney, this sammie is a riot of texture- creamy potato, juicy tomato and crisp crunchy edges where the press has sealed the edges of the crusts together.
Feel free to customise your toastie- it’s almost expected, cheese and tomato, potato with a sprinkling of masala- just don’t go asking for ham, you won’t find any. Street food in India is dominated by all things vegetarian. Grab one from Sanjay Singh Sandwichwallah who has been perfecting the art of the Bombay street sandwich for over 25 years, selling hundreds a day.
Eat a Bombay Sandwich at Sanjay Singh Sandwichwallah, Kala Ghoda on the main road before the square, Fort, Mumbai. Open 9:00am to 9:30pm.
2. Gulab jamun and jalebi
Indians love their sweets- from deep fried, syrup drenched jalebi to silver leaf and pistachio adorned kaju (cashew) rolls- sweets play a huge role in Indian food culture.
To sample some head to the Muslim quarter of Mumbai and prepare for your senses to be annihilated. Horns honk incessantly, there are cars, bicycles, autos, cows and people. So many people. This is where you’ll find JJ Jalebi- a sweet shop where giant tava (concave frying pan) bubble with oil, waiting to receive freshly piped batter to be made into jalebi and balls of gulab jamun- a milk solid sweet. Half the pleasure of eating here is watching them make the sweets.
Once cooked, the treats are fished out and then dunked into another tava filled with sugar syrup. Both sweets are saturated with syrup- moist, sticky and near toothache inducing. A couple is more than enough to satisfy any sugar craving but if you have a major sweet tooth you can order the sweets by weight.
Eat gulab jamun and jalebi at JJ Jalebi, Maulana Shaukatali Road,near JJ Hospital Signal. Pradhan Building Shop no 4, Mumbai. Open 6:00am to 2:00am.
3. Bhel Puri
Chowpatty Beach and bhel puri go hand in hand. Visit this famous Mumbai beach and you’ll see the locals congregating around the street food stands that serve this iconic chaat. It’s a mish mash of flavours and textures- crunchy puffed rice, juicy tomato, tangy red onion, creamy boiled potato and crispy sev (chickpea noodles) all bound in date and tamarind chutney – it’s impossible to stop at one bite.
Eat bhel puri at Stall 23 Chowpatty Beach.
4. Vada pav
Crowds gathered around a street food stall are always a good sign. The hoards of people never abate at Ashok Vada Pav- one of the city’s most popular spots to get a vegetarian street burger. Queuing isn’t really a thing in India- you soon learn that if you don’t push your way forward and yell your order to the vendor you’ll remain hungry for a while. Don’t worry, people don’t take offence it’s just the way things roll here.
Once you get to the front of the crowds you might want to order a couple of vada pav- these things are SO good. A white roll sandwiches a deep fried potato patty, a puddle of green chutney, a liberal dose of ‘crispies’ (deep fried batter) and a sprinkling of masala. Spicy, creamy crunchy- this is one burger well worth seeking out.
Eat vada pav at Ashok Vada Pav, Kashinath Dhuru Marg, Dadar, Mumbai (near Kriti College, Dadar). 11am to 9:30pm.
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We hope this Mumbai food guide has helped you eat and explore like a traveller, not a tourist!
Spending more time in Asia? Check out our ‘ Seoul Food Guide: Top 3 Korean dishes to Eat in Seoul’s hidden food alleys’ and ‘Top 10 Things to Eat in Tokyo (when you’re on a budget!)
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