Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Evening Snacks in Mumbai

When I was working in Mumbai, I lived as a PG. PG Aunty gave us breakfast and dinner, and packed lunch for us to take to office. That accounted for three square meals a day.

But what about hungry evenings? I always get hungry in the evenings. Even now. Mumbai was no different.

If I spent the evening working in office, I would either order a sandwich from the coffee guy in the pantry, made to exact specifications (only one layer of butter, no onion, no toasting - only roasting, etc.), or if I had the time, I would go out to one of the two canteens in the SEZ in which my office was, and have a high-calorie snack. My favourite was the Sabudana Vada, which only used to be available on the usual fasting days of the typical Maharashtrian.

But when I left office early, I would come back to a near empty PG. Sometimes I would buy a packet of Maggi, cook it up and have it with tea. Or sometimes I would buy a 100 g pack of Amul Shrikhand and eat it all up at one go, unabashedly scooping it up with my hands and licking my fingers.

But most often, I had Dabeli. There was this little stall outside this awesome shop that sold the most head-whirringly fascinating foodstuff, called - Parry's (??) near where I lived. I would get down from the office bus, walk straight to the Dabeli man, and order a Dabeli. It was a small snack - peanuts and pomegranate seeds and masala sandwiched between two half-pieces of pav. It was just the right size - enough to quieten my hunger pangs, but not large enough to fill my stomach so much that I couldn't eat PG aunty's usually delicious dinner. I had Dabeli nearly every evening. I have never eaten Dabeli ever since I left Mumbai, though I have heard of it being sold around here. I once decided to make it myself, and even got Dabeli masala from my aunt in Pune, but I never got around to it.

I have a suspicion that I don't want to eat it again for fear that it will not reach the high standard that my brain remembers. But everytime I hear about Dabelis, my salivary glands start working overtime, I remember the smell, taste and look of the Dabeli, and the simple pleasure of my biting into the delicious snack, standing outside the shop overlooking the Gurudwara.

If my hunger was too large to be fed by a small Dabeli, I would have a Frankie further down the road. But Frankies dug too deep a hole in my pocket without giving me the requisite satisfaction in my stomach or my mind - so this was rare.

But what did provide immense Shanti to both stomach and mind was the peerless Lassi that was available in the Punjabi dairy shops on the same road. This Lassi came in a tall glass, and was thick, sweet and rich. The lassi man usually asked for your permission before he topped the lassi with a dollop of Malai. Thick cream. So thick that you could cut it with a knife. And so delicious that tears of joy would sting my eyes.

And this glass of heaven was available for just 12 rupees - or was it 15? Just one glass and it quenched my thirst, satisfied my hunger and energized me immediately. If you caught me at that point and asked me for anything, I would do it for you without hesitation.

Some things, I tell you - they make life more beautiful than it already is.


Swaram said...

Oh! I love Dabeli too. Usually have it on the way back home. Just today morning, I was thinking its been a long time n now I c ur post her. I hv to take a bite today ;)

BTW, I cud never find it anywhere in Bangalore. If u do know n find it gud enuf, plsssss lemme know abt it. One of the things I will miss Hyd for when I return to Blr wud definitely be Dabeli :P

8&20 said...

gosh... all i could think was... thank god i'm in india as i read this post :).

Mama - Mia said...

ooooh! i am so hungry for bomabys nacks!

the sandwich only bombay guys know to amke with the perfect hari chutney!

and vada-pav with its dry red chutney and dabeli ofcos!!!

why dont we get that stuff here?! :(

Shrinidhi Hande said...

What about Vada paav? Mumbai's trademark food?

Any pics of Dabeli? I couldn't get clear picture of it...

SloganMurugan said...

Someone should start a Dabeli stand in blr. will do roaring business

RT said...

It seems like you lived in Sherepunjab. :)

Sindhu said...

My first time to your blog. :) I really enjoyed reading this post. The things you mentioned are pretty new to me, but you have described it in such a way that my mouth is salivating for some of it now! Haha.

Nice blog - keep it up. :)

praneshachar said...

wow!!! I never hear this Dabeli even though i was a regular visitor to bombay in my younger days. may be it was invented later!!!!! creativity of mumbaikar!!!! I also feel dont venture anywhere just keep the taste from this post and enjoy
sabudanavada yes any sabudana dish is for fasting of typical maharashtrian. great things are done using this sago rice (sabudana) kichidi or vada or payasa wow mouth watering dishes.
Lassi u brought my hot days of madras back. when we used to be there for my CA classes Lassi was a regular dring in the night for us what all u said was there and for hot madras it was most welcome drink. hundred percent agree with you u r on top of world after having a glass full of lassi with or without malai, the shop we used to go in madras also had kadai of hot mil for those who doesnot like lassi hot milk with or without malai was very much there so no problems lassi lovers and milk lovers can join and celebrate

Anonymous said...

Dabeli's are available at Sangam Sweets and Savouries , located in the Shivananda Complex in Kumara Park, Seshadripuram.It is a popular joint and the stall has all GUJJU and North Indian snacks.

However most of these items are sold out by 1 pm.

Anonymous said...

Nice Blog Shruthi. I didn't have any work at office yesterday and so I ended up reading your Archives. Your posts got me hooked so much so that I missed taking my 6.30pm cab home and had to wait till 8.30pm to take my next cab. My manager was very amused to see me hanging around in the office so late in spite of not having any work LOL :) My husband thought I must have had a hectic day and had cooked dinner when I got home. Nevertheless it was a sweet day yesterday and thanks to you :))


Anonymous said...

Very few describe about foods with such delight that the average reader starts salivating at the prospect of eating the same...don't know what's a Dabeli but am going to chomp into that asap :-)


Anonymous said...

Check Rajavardhan Foods at Jayanagar 9th block. Its a small darshini kind of shop on the road just off the Big Bazaar on that ring road. Its a great place for all marathi food... sabudana vada, kichdis and ofcourse dabelis :)


JyotiAjay said...

nice to read ur blog.keep writing.

Shruthi said...

When I went to Bombay few years back I dug into some yummy junk food.. had Lassi as well :)) it was great..
Only last week Highway on my Plate featured Dabeli. It was so tempting; I cannot begin to tell you how badly I wanted to have the snack. Now you write about it! I think am destined to eat Dabeli :D
@Anon, thank you. Sangam sweets, here I come.

Viky said...


Pri said...

ahh post padhke hi pe bhar gaya.
dil khush ho gaya seriously! :D

Poppins said...

Yummy. Never heard of Dabeli but can imagine how it must taste. Love the punjabi lassi though, had it all through my Engg trip to Gujarat and have never forgotten the taste yet. Nice post.

Bhargav said...

Nice post. I have never had Dabeli. This was the first time I heard it. Also, what is a Frankie?


Shruti akka, u get dabeli masala only in gujarat or maybe u may get it in mumbai too :) do take some from my place when u come down to mysore & in case you don remember me, i am kailash's fren :)

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