Eat Like A Local: Treasures Of ‘Aamchi Mumbai’

Eat Like A Local: Treasures Of ‘Aamchi Mumbai’
Vada pav is a popular roadside dish in Mumbai Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Ditch the diet, the best of Mumbai is right here!

Roshni Subramanian
January 10 , 2020
10 Min Read

“Mumbai is a city, while Bombay is an emotion”. We bet you hear this sentence every time you bump into a true-blue 'Bombay bred'. Call it Mumbai, Bombay or any other name, only a true Mumbai manus can keep up with the quick heartbeat of the city. There is just something about the city that gives you a sense of belonging. The city of dreams is known to be the one that never sleeps, and apparently it needs to be fed around the clock too! Snacks, meals, or desserts, one can find people gorging on all kinds of treats even into the wee hours. Shaped by the fusion of many cultures, the culinary scene of Mumbai is unrivalled. Here’s a brief round-up of the city’s street food options that will surely add to your street cred!

Bombay Sandwich

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Mumbai loves its sandwiches. And we aren’t talking about those fancy low-carb ones with gluten-free bread and fillings like tofu, kale and others that are alien to the desi palate. The Indian-spiced grilled vegetable sandwich, available at every nook and corner of the city, is as addictive as it gets. Made with cheese, beets, chutney, potatoes, pickled onions and chaat masala, the Bombay sandwich goes straight to the heart. One can’t really tell what keeps Mumbaikars hooked to this chutneyfied sandwich, if it’s the taste or the fact that it can be assembled in a jiffy, but be rest assured you'll find a stall selling this almost everywhere.

Vada Pav

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Would it be an exaggeration if we hail it as the king of street snacks? Maybe. But let’s not start another civil war over this. What puchka and jhal muri is to Kolkata and chat and golgappa is to Delhi, vada pav is to Mumbai. Often referred to as the common man’s food, the name is enough to bring a smile on a Mumbaikar’s face. In a city, where it flies off streets like hot cakes, every person has a go-to vada pav stall which they swear by. The vada is sandwiched between soft, pillowy pav, with generous amounts of spicy chilli-garlic chutney, peanut chutney and a green chutney. It is ideal for those who are on their feet around the clock, a common phenomenon that pretty much sums up life in Mumbai. An irresistible classic, we can’t name a deadlier duo than vada pav and cutting. Can you?

Pav Bhaji

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For those seeking answers to the age-old debate around Mumbai’s obsession with pav, our apologies in advance. This time around we do not have any answers. But why not just celebrate the goodness of a soft, buttery pav? And add a serving of the fiery, flavourful, butter-laden bhaji garnished with chopped onions. It’s a match made in heaven. A trip to Chowpatty is not really complete without hogging on a plate or two of this streetside snack. A close second to the vada pav, you don’t want to mess with a Marathi manus’s plate of pav bhaji.

Bombay Duck

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More often than not, Mumbai’s local cuisine is associated with quick, pocket-friendly and delicious vegetarian meals and snack options. But you can’t really talk about Mumbai and food without discussing Bombay Duck.

Bombil or Bombay Duck, as absurd as it may sound, is not actually a duck at all but a fish. It’s fairly common knowledge that seafood forms an integral part of the local cuisine in the city. Come the monsoon and it’s time for some fresh bombil. A popular delicacy along the coast, you can find the best version of it not on the roadside but in a typical Maharashtrian household. In most families it has become more of a Sunday ritual, starting right from a morning run to the fish market to polishing off plate after plate of the preparation and gulping it down with a glass of solkadi.


For purists, veg frankies fall under the same category as veg momos and veg biryani. For me personally, it brings back so many childhood memories. Let’s face it, and the 90’s kids out there would agree with me here - frequent trips to the nearest frankie shop shaped most of our teen years. One place that pops in my head the minute someone says frankies is Tibbs Frankie. With outlets in major cities across the country, I couldn’t contain my excitement when I stumbled upon one in Chennai. Typically made with flatbread and egg and filled with succulent meat chunks, the version found on the streets of Mumbai is a vegetarian’s delight.

Ragda Pattice (patties)

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Ragda pattice, or as Delhi folks like to call it, tikki-chhole-chaat, is one of the most popular street snacks in Mumbai. From Juhu beach to chaat corners outside college campuses, the one snack that you can find everywhere is the ragda chaat. A blend of sweet, spicy and tangy flavours and a combination of crunchy and soft textures, the assortment of chutneys and a crispy sev topping make it hard to resist. For many, the snack often doubles as a wholesome meal.

Ice Cream Sandwich

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There’s nothing that can beat a Parsi’s obsession with food and we couldn't be more grateful for that. Mumbai’s old-school Irani cafes form an integral part of the city’s history, and, thankfully, some have stood the test of time. Though we’d recommend that you try out the akuri, dhansak and Irani chai, that’s a list for some other time. For now we’d like to bring your attention to K. Rustoms, a place synonymous with ice cream sandwiches. With flavours as diverse as chocolate, paan, peach and guava, it’s the go-to place if you’re in the mood for some frozen treats.

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