If you have been following MumbaiMag, you know I’ve been away on a journey to Israel. Even though Israel is a small country (it’s not much bigger than Mumbai and Pune!) it’s home to people from all parts of the world. Jews from all parts of Europe, Africa and the Americas who came to live in this new country. The food is reflective of this melange of cultures.
On The Sidewalk
Falafel, Shawarma and Schnitzel are like the holy trinity of Israeli street food. Falafel is either eaten by itself or in pita bread, like a sandwich with lots of vegetables and hummus. They are essentially deep fried balls of chickpea paste, flavored with sesame or parsley. It’s probably the cheapest thing one can eat of the streets of Israel.
Contrary to popular belief Shawarma is actually just the meat, not the whole roll. The Middle Eastern way of grilling meat on a vertical skewer is called Shawarma. This chopped up meat can be eaten either in a pita bread sandwich, a laffa roll (which is like a thick rumali roti) or just by itself. The meat can be either chicken, turkey, beef or lamb.
Schnitzel eaten in a baguette is another hot favorite, quite reflective of Israel’s large population of East European immigrants. Of course, hummus and tahini accompanies the schnitzel, giving it a Middle Eastern twist.
Cooking At Home
Most traditional home-style Jewish food consists of stews and curries eaten with rice. Keeping in tune with the region, rice is often replaced by couscous. Majadara is a popular rice dish; rice cooked with lentils, a lot like our own khichdi.
Since it is by the Mediterranean, fish is also a part of the diet, and I did try some very interesting fish patties and fish stews. What I really enjoyed is that salad & pickled vegetables are an essential part of the diet, and accompany every meal.
The most widely available sweet is Baklava which is part Arabic, part Turkish. You’ll find them everywhere, in many different shapes and sizes, and with different fillings. Absolutely indulgent and addictive!
The Middle East In Mumbai
I do not promise an absolutely authentic experience but Mumbai does have a few places that serve Middle Eastern food.
Falafel’s – The chain offers pretty authentic falafel sandwiches. The make a very good Tabuleh salad too. Their stuff almost matches up to what’s found on the streets of Israel.
Lebanese Point – Located in Bandra, Khar and Lokhandwala, this place makes some delicious Shawarma.
Sultan’s Shawarma – on Carter Road, is also a hot favourite. There are many other such small stalls all over the city that make shawarma. It’s a pretty popular street snack, and easily found.
Maroosh – With branches everywhere and stalls at several malls, Maroosh serves Shawarma, but with a slightly desi twist.
Moshe’s Cafe – In Juhu, Bandra and Cuffe Parade offers high end Middle East inspired food. They are the only place in the city that makes good baklava.
Bistro Grill – Located in Juhu opposite J.W. Marriot, Bistro grill serves a variety of food, but predominantly specializes in middle eastern cuisine. Avoid their lunch buffets, and order a la carte.
Leb Mex – In Mumbai the chain has 2 branches, one in Chowpatty and the other in Lower Parel. They serve Lebanese and Mexican Food. An odd combination, but you will be able to sample some of the food I spoke of earlier.
Mabruk – Located in the uber posh Sahara Star, this restaurant serves very high end Middle Eastern food in very plush, over the top surroundings.
Now that you have a list, go chew on a mouthful of the Middle East! And if you know of other places that serve Middle Eastern fare, don’t for forget to tell me here.
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