One thing you can always count on in big cities is that you can always find amazing food and Mumbai lived up to this promise and delivered some really tasty treats! But this time we didn’t go out and find it ourselves, instead we booked a street food tour run by Reality Tours and wow did they deliver! The tour was outstanding, and our guides Raj and Balaji shared their passion for local food with us and made sure we were full to bursting by the time the tour finished. They also showed us dishes that we had never tried or even heard of before and took us off the beaten track to discover some of Mumbai’s best kept foodie secrets. Our favourite part of the tour was being able to share the foodie experience with others and talk to our guides about the authentic flavours, their favourite foods and discovering how the country’s vast history has influenced India’s most popular dishes.
We truly believe that you can experience a countries soul through their food and Reality Tours helped us experience Mumbai’s true local culture. They showed us the vast amount of customs and influences that make up the city’s truly exceptional and diverse blend of cuisines. We started the tour at Chowpatty Beach, a real foodie paradise famed for local vegetarian delicacies. The beach was buzzing with activity when we arrived, and we sat and watched the sunset as we tried delicious dishes including Pani Puri, Pav Bhaji, Sev Puri and Kulfi!
Our favourite dish here was the Sev Puri, a Mumbai classic consisting of round savoury biscuits topped with heaps of herbs, onion, chutney and Sev (thin crispy strips made from chickpeas). We also loved the Pav Bhaji a spicy, buttery curry made from mashed vegetables served with a super soft bread roll brought to India by the Portuguese. We finished this off with some delicious Kulfi, India’s version of ice cream that’s much creamier and denser and comes in delicious flavours such as mango, pistachio and Rose.
We then moved onto Mohammad Ali Road, which was defiantly the most chaotic but exciting part of the tour! Even the journey there was fascinating, we took a short taxi ride, walked through a Hindu market and then as we reached the predominantly Muslim area of Mohammed Ali road all off a sudden everything changed, from the sights and the buildings, to the streets that were buzzing with activity, people and cars, but the best part… we were surrounded by food! The smells were incredible and the air was filled with aromas of sweet Jalebis, spices and meat frying in pure Ghee. At this point we were incredible thankful for our guides, this area is not for the faint hearted and it was great to have someone to guide us through the busy streets and take us to the best vendors; there were hundreds to choose from!
Here we got to sample a bit of India we had never tried before, as we have usually visited Hindu areas most of the food has been vegetarian, which is great for me but not for Robbin who always craves meat. If you are vegetarian don’t worry there are still some dishes available, but I will get to that later. For Robbin he was truly in his element, starting with Kebabs; more like meatballs to us, made from Buffalo Beef, lentils and deep fried in Ghee. He then filled up on chicken with naan sandwiches, soft and fluffy bread stuffed with spicy chicken. Followed by Baida Roti, an egg wrap parcel stuffed with minced chicken and served with spicy green chutney and finally a Kathi roll, a wrap filled with skewer roasted chicken. For the vegetarian options the guides spoke to the vendors who made me special scrambled eggs cooked with plenty of ghee, turmeric and fresh green chilli as well as a naan sandwich stuffed with spicy eggs instead of chicken.
After this we moved from the chaotic main road to a slightly calmer side street to experience handmade ice cream at the famous Taj Ice cream shop. They had mind-blowing flavours including my favourite saffron and pistachio and Robbin favourite lychee, the shop has been in the family for 6 generations and open for 120 years! They pride themselves on making the ice cream in the same traditional way and using fresh ingredients, we’ve also heard if you ask nicely its not unusual for the owners to take you into the back and show you how it’s made. But we didn’t have time for this and we were moving onto our final stop for super sweet jalebis.
Overall, we had an amazing experience and left with very very happy tummies and if we had more time in Mumbai we certainly would have gone on more tours with them, but we will have to wait until our next trip. Reality Tours also offer a Slums tour which we have heard nothing but good things about and they are very passionate about giving you a true taste of life in Mumbai. Even better you can rest assured that your money is going to a good cause as 80% of their profits go to their own charity Reality Gives, which offers education to some of Mumbai’s most underprivileged communities.