During the holy month of Ramzaan or Ramadan, at Mohammed Ali Road, under the JJ Flyover, the evenings are lively and colourful. Surroundings are replete with shops and stalls selling a variety of items – clothes, jewellery, make up accessories, lingerie, shoes, toys, books. But what draws the whole of the city to this place is of course, the food. Mohammed Ali Jouhar was a leader of the Khilafat movement and also a co-founder of the Jamia Millia Islamia university. Dedicated to him, this road stretches from Crawford Market and goes right upto JJ Hospital and is lit up during these 30 days. Last evening a few friends and I wandered around in an attempt to discover the treats that this place has in store for us!
It was drizzling as we walked on but the empty streets and the all pervading flyover looming large over the road provided us cover from the rain. Just after Zakeria Masjid, the lights started to dazzle and dodging hand cart pullers and unruly bikers, we finally arrived at the iconic Minara Masjid. The street (Ibrahim Mohammed Merchant Road) was filled with shoppers and foodies.
On the left were the stalls selling meat while on the right, sweet delicacies were fast disappearing from the shelves. Promising ourselves to come back, we walked ahead in search of Burhanpur Jalebis. After some asking around, we finally located it. A small ramshackle store dishing out one of the most heavenly jalebis that we had tasted so far. Mawa filled and fried until crisp, they were dripping in sugar syrup. We also spotted numerous Shawarma stalls and couldn’t stop ourselves from ordering one (they cost as low as Rs. 20!) The famed Nalli Nihari at Chinese N Grill was next on our list but we found it to be shut. It was too early for them. They open only at 8.30 pm so we retraced our steps and walked towards Minara Masjid once again.
However, near Islahi Dawakhana, we spotted a cage full of Quails. We plonked ourselves on the plastic chair in front of the stalls and ordered a Tandoori Quail! The waiter had warned us that it would be an extra small portion and so it was! Barely a fist sized portion and we literally had to scrape the bone to extract all the flesh but it was so tasty that we didn’t mind at all. We then decided to explore the Bohri Mohalla area and started walking up north. Passing by the Mandvi Post office, we were soon at Noor Mohammadi, running successfully since 1923, this is one of the oldest establishments of the city.
Once settled, we ordered Chicken Hakimi, Tangdi Kabab, Nihari – Mutton and Mutton Paya. The Chicken Hakimi stole the show. Tandoori chicken grilled to perfection and served in a tasty marinade had all of us clawing at the juciy pieces of meat laid in front of us. The Nihari which is cooked throughout the day is quite a meal in itself. The Tangdi Kababs were done just right and Paya was as good as it gets. Big round naans were provided with the meal. We ate till we were tired and decided to explore more.
We walked towards Saifee Ambulance, another enclave housing some of the best kebab stalls and sweet shops. We made our way to Bar-B-Que Corner which sells made-to-order kebabs. The meat is marinated and the skewers are kept ready. After having our share of succulent sheekh kebabs, we ventured out to Imaam Sharbat which sells a milk based watermelon juice. You could give it a pass if you are not a fan of milk or watermelon.
Our last stop for the night was Tawakkal Sweets, located closeby. Malpuas with egg and sada malpuas, Phirni – regular and kesar, Malai – black currant and mango was all that we ordered . We wished for a larger appetite by the time we walked out of the Saifee Ambulance lane and looked for a cab. There was so much that we had eaten but yet, there was so much more remaining. Khichda, Haleem, Chotte Kebabs, Shammi Kebabs, Bheja Fry, Sutar Feni, Saunf Sarbat and the list could go on. But then Ramazan Eid doesn’t fall until the 20th of August, another trip to Mohd Ali Road is already being planned!
Tips for first timers:
While visiting avoid taking your vehicle along as finding a parking spot could be difficult and also this area is best explored on foot. Numerous BEST buses ply on this route (7, 125, 19, 54, 11, A-13). Be prepared to brace the throngs of people who frequent the road every evening. Also most importantly, go there on an empty stomach (we skipped our lunch). Immerse yourself in the chaos and the cacophony and you will find yourself planning a return trip soon!
What We Ate:
Burhanpur Jalebis – Rs. 200/kg
Chicken Shawarma – Rs. 20-40
Tandoori Quail – Rs. 150
Noor Mohammadi – Rs 700/Four persons
Bar-B-Que Corner – Rs. 24/Sheekh Kebabs
Imaam Sharbat – Rs. 17/Glass
Tawakkal Sweets – Rs. 200/Four Persons
Have your own favorite spots at Mohammad Ali Road or other places in Mumbai? Tell us!
Images By: Natasha Desai
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