The great thing about living in a multi-cultural, mixed-up, slightly hotch-potch city like Mumbai is that everyone gets to partake (at least superficially) in each other’s celebrations. Take for example the holy month of Ramzan, which all of Mumbai ‘celebrates’. Let me begin by clarifying that Ramzan is not exactly a celebration, but a sacred month of penance, when Muslims abstain from pleasures like sex, entertainment and food (during daylight hours) among other things. It is meant to serve as a reminder of Allah’s bounty. The interesting thing about Mumbai, and perhaps a reflection of its spirit, is that the rest of the non-Muslims population simply focus on the lighter, celebratory aspects of Ramzan. We may not fully understand the meaning and significance of the roza, but we certainly won’t miss the chance to ‘break-fast’ and feast! What and where should you be eating? Read on to find out. 1. Nalli Nihari at Chinese ‘n Grill – I’ll begin with a proclamation that this place serves the best nalli nihari in the world, yes, the whole wide world. Melt-in-your-mouth, fall-off-the-bone, slow cooked shanks beef or lamb garnished generously with bits of bone marrow. To do things the way they should be done, ask for ‘bade ka’ if you want beef and ‘chote-ka’ if you want lamb. This gravy preparation is best enjoyed with soft, hot tandoori rotis. They make a super delicious pichoda (ox tail), which you can also have ‘nalli maar ke’. Location: 122/132, Barkat Manzil, near Minara Mazjid, Mohammad Ali Road 2. Paya at Valibhai Payawala – What makes this restaurant stand out is their cooking method. Their signature dishes are cooked in twelve deep, large handis, which are strategically placed at the entrance, drawing customers in. Each of these handis has a different Surti Bohri style dish. Of these one dish is made with beef trotters and the other with goat trotters; gelatinous bony chunks of meat in an aromatic gravy, served with pav. Not that the rest aren’t delicious, but these two paya dishes definitely stand out. Location: 45, Gujar Street, Bohri Mohalla, Bhendi Bazaar, Opposite JJ hospital 3. Seekh Kebabs at Al-Madina Fast Food– The by-lanes off Mohammad Ali Road turn into one big open air food bazaar during Ramadan, and it’s honestly quite hard to pick your way through the many kebab stalls. You almost can’t tell where one stall ends and another begins. You’ll always notice a crowd huddled around Al-Madina Fast Food; patrons swear by their well marinated, juicy mutton seekh kebabs – served with a spicy green chutney, a squeeze of lime and pav. Location: Minara Mazjid lane, Mohammad Ali Road. 4. Khiri at Bar-b-que – Once you’ve had seekh kebabs at Al-Madina, you should head to Bar-b-que to try another local delicacy, khiri (or cow’s udders) which are chopped into bits and grilled on a skewer. The meat is very fatty, and when gets a delicious smoky, crisp exterior when grilled. If the thought of eating udders puts you off, you can opt for their boti kebabs, or chicken tikka, but you really will be missing out on something special. 5. Sanju Baba Chicken at Noor Mohammadi Hotel – You can hardly call it a traditional delicacy; this chicken concoction has been named after none other than Bollywood’s own bad boy, Sanjay Dutt. This dish is a crowd pleaser, and has become something of a legend. Definitely worth a try! Location – 179, Wazir Building, Abdul Hakim Chowk, Bhendi Bazar, Near Girgaum 6. Khichda at Jaffer Bhai’s Delhi Darbar – Khichda is to Mumbai what haleem is to Hyderabad. Both dishes are quite similar, but khichda typically has more lentils and a few different ingredients. Jaffer Bhai’s is a pretty popular food chain, which now has branches all over Mumbai. But their Mohammad Ali Road brand is by far the most colourful, especially during Ramzan. You absolutely must try their khichda – a one meal dish which is made with a mixture of lentils, meat, wheat, saffron, milk and spices, which are slow cooked to a sludgy consistency on a wood fire and served with a generous topping of fried onions. It’s rich, indulgent and worth its weight in gold! Location: 70, Dinath Building, 195/197 Patthe Bapurao Road, opposite Alfred Cinema, Grant Road 7. Baba Falooda – If you live in the suburbs and don’t want to make the trip all the way to Mohammad Ali Road, you could also drop by Mahim for a concise version of the experience. If you do, then you must indulge in some rich, creamy shahi falooda at Baba Falooda. Location: Baba Falooda, No. 2, Bel View Bldg L.J. Rd, Mahim 8. Malpua and firni at Suleman Usman Mithaiwala – You’ll begin to drool just watching their cooks fry malpua in large kadhais outside the store. Malpua (they even make eggless ones) are typically served with unsweetened cream, which actually reduces the sweetness of each bite and perfectly complements freshly fried malpua. They also make the best firni in town. They serve some mango, kesar and other flavoured variants but I recommend to sticking to the classic plain malpua; milky, creamy and delicious! Location: Shop No. 41 F/G, Mohammed Ali Rd, Mumbadevi Area, Bhuleshwar This list if by no means comprehensive, and simply serves as a starting point. While you are at it, there’s much more for you to sample including bheja (goat brain) fry, gurda (kidney) fry, baida roti (mince & egg rolls) and grilled bater (quail). Of course, all this food is available year round, maybe not with the same ease and abundance as it is during this season. But the fun in eating out during Ramzan lies not just in the food, but in the crowds, the energy and the vibrancy of the experience. You most certainly have a valid excuse to feast!