There are few places in India where the street food is as diverse as Mumbai, perhaps down to its long history rising from tiny fishing village to one of the largest cities in Indian and countless waves of immigration from Persians to Gujaratis. If you’re in town for just a day or two, consider hopping aboard one of our food tours or go it alone and dive head first into some of the best street food in Mumbai.
While pav bhaji is now found all other India, there is nothing quite like trying a plate of this rich vegetable dish at its origin. It’s simple to make – take a bunch of vegetables and tomatoes, cook off and mash with just the right amount of seasoning and spices and covered in grated paneer cheese. It’s always accompanied by warm buttery rolls, crunchy sliced shallots, a slice of lime for a zingy punch and, if you’re lucky, a bright red chilli oil which provides just the right amount of kick.
Vada pav is the stable for many of the city’s residents. This Mumbai street food snack is nothing more than a lightly spiced potato fried in a gram flour batter sandwiched between a fluffy roll. What really makes this hearty snack is the spicy chutneys, salty chillies and garlic that give this humble street snack the kick it needs. It’s wallet friendly too at just 10 cents each. You won’t have to look far, there are more than 30,000 vada pav sellers in the city alone.
Depending on where you are in India, this chaat snack has a different name, but in Mumbai it’s known as pani puri. Look out for street vendors piled high with spherical puffed up pastry shells. When you’re ready to order, a hole is placed in the top from which they are quickly filled with spiced mash potato, chickpeas and tamarind water. Pop the whole thing in and let it burst in your mouth before holding out your hands ready for another. A classic Mumbai street food.
Mumbai sits at the crossroads between the North and South of India making it somewhat of a culinary melting pot. Take the dosa for instance. This typically southern Indian breakfast snack isn’t hard to find on the side streets of old Bombay. These wafer thin crispy Indian pancakes are made from rice flour and are used to mop up southern Indian curries, sambas and chutneys. Alternatively, for something a little heavier, try the masala dosa filled with lightly spiced mashed potato.
Mumbaiites know that if you want chaat snacks, you go to the beach. Look at for street vendors and the call of the bhel puri walla. The recipe changes, but the plates of puffed rice are usually tossed in chopped shallots, tomatoes, spiced potato and tamarind chutney. While that might not sound that appealing, the balance of tart, spice and sweetness can be just the ticket.
It may not have originated in India, but Mumbai has certainly taken this bready stable as their own. Other than meat fillings which are rarely found in the city, you can customize it in any way you like. Take your pick from tomatoes, vegetables, cheese, eggs, mayonnaise, then watch as your towering behemoth of a sandwich gets buttered and grilled. This is the students’ street snack of choice and for good reason – you can pick up one of these beauties for just 25 cents. Go on, have another…
We’re most of the way down the list and you may have noticed that this is the first meat dish. India’s a vegetarian’s delight, but if you’ve got an itch for grilled meat, make a beeline for the Muslim quarter where smoky buffalo and lamb are cooked over open coals and some of the best street food in Mumbai is found. The tiny vendors and eateries up along Mohammed Ali Road have been knocking out some of the best kebabs this side of the Middle East for centuries.
This influence of Persian settlers is still found today along the streets of Mumbai. One of the most notable dishes is kheema pav, a minced meat dish cooked in spices and served with chopped shallots, slices of lemon and piles of fluffy buttered rolls to mob it up with. Looking for breakfast? Try the version of kheema cooked with scrambled eggs.
If you want to discover India’s cuisine with the help of an expert foodie guide, why not hop our Mumbai street food tour? Our truly small-group Mumbai food tours are limited to just 8 exclusive guests each day and cover more than 14 different hidden street eats across 3 different parts of the city. You’ll never look at Indian street food in the same way again.