THE GOOD LIFE IN MUMBAI THAT WAS BOMBAY!

At Vile Parle (East) wet market…a chatty Anilbhai with his cart packed with a selection of schoolchildren’s delights…fresh green saunf bunches, sliced mango, gauva, green and sweet murabba tamarind, country chana bor and other berries, aonla, etc.

By Tara Narayan

AFTER a stint of 20 years in golden Goa and a gap of five years after my mother dear passed away and I am still haunted by her passing on, I returned to Mumbai that was Bombay and was overwhelmed. Walking down an old street trail of mine down market lanes of distant Vile Parle (East) I discovered that the piles of Nagpur winter time oranges (santra) are selling at Rs100 per dozen and not per kilo, I was delighted thinking how once upon a time I have bought them for Rs20 per dozen in the 70s and 80s! I hate it when some heavily skinned fruit is sold by the , then one may get only six or seven oranges, for example.
The wet market of Vile Parle have always been one of my old joys with their greens (spring garlic or leelu lasan, aonla, amba haldi and also golden fresh turmeric which marry so well together with a dash of sea salt and lots of lemon juice in in a bottle on the dining table to eat atop multigrain toast or ragi bhakri)…there’s an organic produce bazaar every Tuesday down historic Juhu lane it self where one may pick up fragrant dill and baby palak, methi greens and lots of radish…eat radish fresh, the large white daikon ones as also red little ones with their leafy greens, I find greens chopped, dunked in hot water and cooled do well in a greens curdsy raita with or without a sprinkling of chaat masala.
For a moment I thought Mumbai is so exciting and intoxicating although I know I may no longer be up to coping with it like I used to do…although I will always be a Mumbai woman at heart. I stepped into Radha Krishnan Udipi here to find the rava dosa as delicious as ever and the plate of idli now costing Rs60 but they are soft generous beauties. Filtar coffee is still worth drinking. Walked around a little more and discovered a second-hand bookshop where I was told it was Rs25 per kilo for anything brought it be books or newspapers. I contemplate buying a Tarla Dalal cookbook and then changed my mind.
These days an old argument between the Infosys couple Sudha Murthy and her hubby Narayan Murthy goes through my head. She says she has everything and so much and is tired of shopping for anything, no more. He retorts, Go shopping! If you don’t go shopping how will others earn a living! Well, for my own reasons I have cut down on my shopping for non-essentials too and try to think like Sudha Murthy!
THEN while out at Vile Parle (East) I stepped into a Society store which had so much to eat to live and live to eat that I was zapped. Dozens of all kinds of farsan crunchies, the old-fashioned khakra I thought pale before the range of bhakri in wheat and ragi and other millet combinations. You know we are currently going through a millet revolution with Prime Minister Narendra Modi setting an example…eat more millets of this country. Out, out damn wheat and white rice of industrial brainwashing fame and fortune! Make way for pearl millet and foxtail millet and amaranth and rest of them, millets all. They offer more nutrition for the mind and body, heart and soul and they have not yet been genetically modified out of life yet, rejoice and look for them to feast on. They are alkaline grains, flour them and steam-cook the flours and feast on them with chutney of all kind and crunchy salads. Enjoy and watch the pain in your joints varnish bit by bit. Grow young anew!

At Tresind…a fancy 12-course menu based on itsy bitsy artwork-styled world cuisine to tempt bored palates! Ever heard of khandvi ice-cream?


APART from the bit of interesting loafing I managed to do it was sort of celebration time because my sister number four from New Zealand here and I was catching up with her over birthdays and sweet newly marrieds in the family and it was a mix of cooking at home or ordering in and of course the distant Western suburbs have some great eating out places with all kinds of bar eateries like what I have taken a shine too, that is PopTate’s at Andheri West…the entrance was in a state of renovation but if you ask you may take a lift up to a most pleasant sports bar where everyone was watching the FIFA match and it became a very gregarious ambience. I didn’t peri peri French fries and loaded nachos could be so delicious and afterwards all a veggie steak with mushroom sauce, nice, very nice. My newly married nephew from New Zealand Rohan loves this Pop Tate’s although there is another one at Seven Bungalows which is reportedly better…Rohan grew up in Juhu and wanted to show off his early ISKCON temple growing up here to her! It’s so brave to get married in our times, I think, watching them interact, a Guju-Tulu Rohan and Marathi girl Shruti from NZ, or so I think!
Big fat Indian weddings are getting more and more showy and hilarious but that’s where the big money is in Goa or India. But to stay with eating out adventures in Mumbai that was Bombay, the other interesting place I opted out of going to was the very fancy Tresind at Bandra-Kurla complex where they do a 12 course meal of itsy bitsy fusion presentations like “arugula pani puri, feta cream, poached pears; trio of pachadi, beetroot, cucumber and yogurt; butternut ravioli, sage pesto, palak patta; corn 65, corn butter, achappam; raw banana varuval, coconut lassi, curry leaf chutney; wat r chestnut and asparagus salad, zeera aloo espuma, tomato rasam; jerusalam artichoke cafreal, shiso leaf tempura, pickled cabbage; onion tortellini, chili kadhi, onion ash; khandvi ice-cream, pickled papaya and chili; sarson ka saag, radish salad, pickle served with corn waffle, churned butter, gud ki chutney; khichdi of India; textures of milk, malai burrata, yakult ice-cream, palang tod, warm milk crumble, dates and walnut iced-cream, coffee stone…” Well! Do I hear anyone saying wow or creepers jeepers or crazy or madness or some such? According to Rohan it was very cool and they enjoyed! I should have been there with them. I wish…but, but.
ALL this and much more as I discover the new paradigm of the Bombay I knew and which I now fear may be dividing more clearly into distinct utopia and dystopia in my lifetime! Life amongst the utopian classes is as fascinating as it amongst the dystopian masses but more about all this another time, stay in touch with this column which started in Mumbai that was Bombay and continues some 35 years later in Goa for whoever reads it. As the French say, c’est la vie.

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