Destinations · Cuisine, India · Things to Do
May 04, 2022 Words: Stephen Milioti

Mumbai Street Food 101

This vibrant city’s iconic culinary delights are yours to enjoy — no reservations required.

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Heading to Mumbai? You’ll be eating well, and there’s no need to make reservations. Some of the city’s best — and most revered — food is served right on the street. From savory-and-sweet snacks to a hearty midday meal, the options are numerous and inspiring — and there’s something for every taste. Enjoy this little culinary tour as a precursor to your journey. Your taste buds will thank us (and you).

Where to Find Street Food
The question here is more like, “Where do you not?” Street food carts and pop-ups are found throughout the city, and this isn’t the case of there being just one or two standouts — there are literally hundreds (or more) of great options, and the players can change quickly. But the biggest and best selection tends to be clustered around the major universities and colleges (including University of Mumbai campuses, Kirti College, and Mithibai College), beaches (Juhu, Aksa, and Girgaon Chowpatty), and Mumbai’s markets and bazaars (Colaba Causeway, Chor Bazaar, and Bhendi Bazaar).

Most Popular Street Foods
This is another big list — Mumbai has an enormous amount of well-loved street foods — and the vast majority are vegetarian-friendly. Here are just a few of the most popular.

Especially popular along the beaches (and thus big with travelers and locals alike), bhelpuri is a delicious combination of puffed rice, sev (crunchy deep-fried noodles made of chickpea flour and spices), potatoes, tomatoes, onions, sweet chutneys, and chopped cilantro. It’s a delectable mix of multiple textures and savory and sweet flavors.

Pav bhaji is one of the most simple and satisfying street foods. It’s a combination of vegetables (mostly potatoes and tomatoes) mashed up with spices, and served with toasted, buttered bread to soak it all up.

If you love veggie burgers, vada pav might be the best you ever had. It’s a fried spiced mashed potato patty on a bun, finished with a harmony of spices and chutneys.

Next up is the Mumbai sandwich: The main filling varies (though most are vegetarian), but all start off with toasted buttered white bread, shredded cheese, masala potatoes, mint chutney, and a perfect combo of chili, cilantro, and cumin.

One of the most delicious and inventive Mumbai street foods, pani puri is a hollow circular chip poked with a hole, seasoned and partially stuffed with potatoes and chickpeas, and filled with various chutneys and flavored water. It makes for a single bite that explodes with flavor and texture. Expert tip: be sure to try this delicious treat only from a vendor who uses filtered water.

Other Options
Nearly all the most popular options are vegetarian, but non-vegetarians will be able to enjoy numerous kinds of kebabs including chicken tikka and lamb boti. There are also a variety of rolls, the most popular of which are Bhuna rolls, made of boneless chicken in spicy gravy and wrapped in roti (a thin flatbread with a tortilla-like texture).

Lastly, it would be remiss to skip the beverages, and the most famous one in Mumbai is chai. Unlike the overly sweet mixes you might be used to, these are strong, bracing, and, well, actually taste like tea. Chai is served hot or cold, often with plenty of milk and spices like cardamom and ginger that give it an intensely fresh flavor. It’s the perfect afternoon pick-me-up.

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Vada potatoes wrapped in flour being taken out of hot oil after deep frying
Panipuri filled with potatoes along with sauce
Hot Tandoori Tea/Chai

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