[philiptellis] I love food, and I like writing about food. Follow me as I follow my nose, seeking out gastronomic delicacies wherever I find myself

Tuesday, September 30, 2003

Bheeeel Waaalaa

French class is on mid-term break, so I stayed late in the office today. That of course means that I'd be hungry by the time I left, so I stopped off for Bhel near Amitabh's place in Juhu. Bhel must be the staple diet of Mumbaikars during non-monsoon months.

Our Bhel walla was on break during the monsoons, but he's back now, just in time for my break :D He charges 10 bucks for everything — Bhel, Sev or Pani puri.

The bhel rates across Mumbai differ widely. What you get also differs. The guys who come around with their wares on their heads offer mainly bhel and sev puri. The cart guys have Pani puri also. Some of them have the Dahi Batata and Masala Puri too.

At other places you'll also get Raghda Pattice and Samosa - Sukha/with Chutney.

While I was doing my hardware diploma in 1994, I befriended a Bhel Walla near Churchgate station. He used to be on the road towards Xavier's boys academy (and USIS/Theosophy Hall). Bhel was 10 bucks then, and it was my daily lunch... at 5:45pm. One day I met him long after I'd stopped going there. I didn't buy any bhel that day, but he bought a pear, and gave me half. :) Nice guy. Checked up on my way to Theosophy hall earlier this year. There's a different guy there now.

When I was in VJTI we used to frequent all the bhel wallas, and there was a huge choice. The guy on the way to Matunga station — just across the main road — used to have the best Masala Puri. It was 5 bucks when we started, and went up to 6 by the time I left. I didn't even have to order, he just knew what I was having.

Then there was the guy midway between VJTI and the main road on the way to Matunga. We used to have bhel there for 6 bucks. It was okay, but huge quantity. I remember myself on my cycle, Murli who would tow me, Narsi and Jagan doing that route almost daily. Sometimes Tinaz and Deepa would be with us. Sometimes it was me, lols, soujanya and monal, and sometimes sushil would come along.

At 5 gardens the demand was high, and so were the prices. 10 bucks for anything, but you got a good squeeze of lime in it. I think that was to make up for the fact that there wasn't much else.

Finally, on the way to Wadala was the Samosa walla. 5 bucks for a plate — two samosas, with raghda and chutney. Was awesome. Mujtaba introduced me to that guy. We also had dahi batata puri, sev puri and bhel puri here. He was by far the best. This was the regular place when I stayed late in college (to study, but mainly to have a snooze :D in sushil's room). sushil, muji and i would take a walk down there, and then go hang out at 5Gs with the other hostelites to watch the walkers :D ;)

Yeah, bhel is a culture in Mumbai. And there's some awesome memories associated with it. The only other item that brings back so many memories is chaaaai. But that's another story :D

Heh, I haven't written this much in a while.