...continuing on from my last post on some of my most memorable foodie experiences in Mumbai.
Dahi batata puri at Swati Snacks
No visit to India is complete without indulging in chaat, Indian snacky street food. Eeeks, you say, street food, that's the recipe for food poisoning. Have you seen the yucky conditions under which they make the stuff on the road? The guy just dipped his bare hands into the pot of tamarind chutney! And the water for the pani puris looks totally ominous. Wretch.
To all those germ-counting, hand-sanitizing, OCD tourists, stick to your five-star, white linen-tabled garlic naan, chicken tandoori and saag paneer fare. And then go back to wherever you came from, in whatever part of the world, and eat it all over again in your neighborhood Indian resto. <em>Or</em>, hunt out a place like Swati Snacks in Mumbai, that despite being indoors and away from its street vendor brethren, maintains an appropriate level of down-to-earthness that's critical to enjoying the authentic Indian chaat experience, without the same nauseating-flies-crawling-all-over-my-spoon feeling.
While chaat is a broad term encompassing many different types of savory snacks, I have a weakness for any combo of spice, yoghurt sauce, tamarind chutney, and deep-fried <em>anything</em>, whether it's a puri or a samosa or battered chillies or sev (mini deep-fried strings of salty dough. one of those things that once you start, you can't stop.) And Swati Snacks fully delivered on the chaat experience I was looking to get with their plate of dahi batata puri. Each mini puri that I greedily popped whole into my mouth was like a flavor-busting grenade, exploding out crackling sev, salty sprouts, and puri flakes, and then a spice-extinguishing spurt of yoghurt and tamarind chutney in quick succession all across my tongue. <em>Sigh. </em> The raw, soul-satisfying pleasures that can be had from a simple, street vendor-inspired plate of puris and chutney.
The other two snacks that Swati is quite famous for is their Panki and Satpadi Roti, both of which were good, but definitely a couple of taste notches below the dahi batata puri in my opinion.
Fresh Coconut Water
When stepping outside feels no different than stepping into a sauna, with all your clothes on, and Mumbai pollution beating down on you to shatter any temporary illusion that the heat could be nature's free steam spa treatment, there's nothing more refreshing than a sip of cool coconut water, straight from the shell. Doesn't take much to make me go mmm.
Veg Thali at Chetana's
I've written a separate post about this one...check it out at http://www.iliveinafryingpan.com/restaurantreview/indian-thali-at-chetanas-in-mumbai/
This is all I've got for this trip, but I'm already planning my next visit to Mumbai, with pilgrimages to Joss, Bademiya, Gajalee, Goa Portuguesa, Soam, and a whole bunch of other places that friends have raved about. Feel free to suggest more places you think I should try when down in Mumbai!
Phone: +91 (22) 6580-8405 or -8406
Main location: Tardeo, Mumbai
Smaller stall: INOX cinema foodcourt, Nariman Point, Mumbai