To understand the clamour that comes with dining at an eatery in Mumbai’s main market areas ― which starts from Crawford Market and ends near Chor Bazaar ― you need to consider that there will always be a crowd of harried humans, sharp horns, hundreds of hand carts and the occasional animal. This week, we highlight some of the best vegetarian thali joints aside from an old-school ‘cold drink’ house and a ‘farm’ for all your daily dairy needs.
BADSHAH COLD DRINKS
Feeding Mumbai since 1905
No visit to Mumbai is complete without a visit to Crawford Market. And no visit to Crawford Market is complete without a visit to Badshah. This ‘Cold Drink’ house has been quenching parched shopper throats for a record 110 years, with freshly squeezed fruit juices ― or ask for a cocktail like Ganga Jamuna (sweet lime with oranges) or Maramari (sweet lime and pineapple) ― and faloodas (rose syrup, vermicelli, basil seeds, tapioca pearls, jelly, milk and ice cream). We can vouch for everything from their year-round orange juice and falooda Royal to their seasonal mango milkshake and strawberries with cream.
Badshah, 209, Zilani Mansion, Pydhonie Road, Mumbai CST Area, +91 98202 28396. 7 am to 1 am
Feeding Mumbai since 1895
Just as it is today, over a century ago Kalbadevi was crammed with immigrants from Gujarat, Rajasthan, Sind and Punjab, most of them vegetarian. Work, place of worship and home were all well within walking distance. From their homesick food cravings, this now ancient eatery was born and they still serve up a slice of home, piping hot. The Chawlas can be credited with creating Kutchhi Beer (chaas in a beer bottle), a superb papad churi, the best dal fry in the entire market area and staple sabjis list with sev tamatar, baingan bharta and paneer bhurji. First timers, all four BT outlets on this street are run by the same family only different brothers so, pick one and eat well.
Hotel Shree G Bhagat Tarachand, Mumbaidevi Commercial Centre, 69/75, Zaveri Bazaar, Kalbadevi, +91 22 22426167. 10 am to 11.45 pm. Closed on Sunday evenings
FRIENDS UNION JOSHI CLUB
Feeding Mumbai since 1955
If you say “Thali” we’ll say “Friends.” For 61 years, the Purohit family has been feeding hungry workers, locals, tourists and devotees, the best Gujarati thali in Mumbai. Is it the price? No, although Rs 200 is very reasonable; Is it the location? No, it’s hard to find if you don’t know where to look. Is it the ambience? No, food is very serious business here and so they offer no square tables, only benches for two. To summarise, it’s the food. Everything from the spicy green chilli and mustard dry pickle and rassawalla potato sabji to mithi mani, taste like they were prepared by somebody’s grandma.
Friends Union Joshi Club, 381, 1st Floor, A Wing, Narottamwadi, Kalbadevi Road, Kalbadevi, +91 22 22058089. 11 am to 3 pm and 7 pm to 10 pm. Closed on Sunday evenings
PARSI DAIRY FARM
Feeding Mumbai since 1916
Brothers Bakhtyar and Sarfaraz K Irani currently man Mumbai’s most iconic dairy, Parsi Dairy Farm. Set up in 1916 at the now famous Princess Street address by their maternal great grandfather Ardeshir Nariman, this 96-year-old piece of dairy history is best described as a milky haven. Now, more importantly, what will your order include apart from their milk drop toffees, malai kulfi, sutterfeni, Amdabadi halwa, full-fat milk, low-fat milk, paneer, dahi, ghee and Bengali sweets?
Parsi Dairy Farm, 261-263, Shamaldas Gandhi Marg, Kalbadevi, +91 22 67752222. 8 am to 8.30 pm. Closed on Sundays
SHREE THAKER BHOJANALAY
Feeding Mumbai since 1945
Gauging by the steady stream of lunchers, you’d be right in guessing that not much has changed at Thaker’s since Gautam Purohit’s father started (after acquiring some experience as a cook in a few Gujarati households) the simple, floor-seating lunch thali joint. Aside from the fact that they now serve a 2.0 thali ― on tables and chairs ― which suits everyone’s palates by going easy on the spice and oil, all while staying true to heirloom recipes for chutneys, farsan, bhajis, dals, rotis, rice preparations and desserts.
Shree Thaker Bhojanalay, 31, Dadisheth Agyari Lane, off Kalbadevi Road, Marine Lines, +91 22 22011232. 11.30 am to 3.30 pm and 7 pm to 10.30 pm