A Ramzan night at Minara Masjid in Mumbai

By Mohammad Rehan Ansari, TwoCircles.net,

Mumbai: The sight of grilled kebabs, aroma of sizzling sweet malpuas and phirnis is what you need to send your daily diet routine for a toss. This is exactly what you will find at Khau Galli during Ramzan.

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Situated in densely populated area of Minara Masjid at Mohammed Ali Road, this lane comes to life as soon as dusk sets in as the faithful break their day-long fast.

If you are foodie and crave for delicious non-veg food then you can’t miss this place. Famous for loyal customers from Bollywood, one can find film actors like Javed Jaffery, Rakshanda Khan and Priety Zinta enjoying their meals late in the night.

One will find this lane bustling with people from all walks of life right up to saheri (dawn) when the fast starts.

The moment you step in, food-stall owners on either side of the lane will start dragging you towards their stall that offers, Meat Kebabs, Chicken Tikka, Khichda, Liver, Kidney, Brain Fry Quail etc. “We saw some middle class non Muslims with teeka on their forehead, enjoying brain and kidney-fry.” Khalid, a stall owner told us, “Nearly 25% of the customers are non Muslims and it’s a routine all Ramzan.”

Our journey of feasting, after a day of fast, began with The Salwa, an Arabic word for Quail. I wanted to taste the food sent to Bani Israel from Jannah. We ordered a roasted quail and a boy sacrificed the quail in front of us and mixed some masala in it and started roasting.

Meanwhile we asked the waiter about it and he replied, “The quail is especially brought in for Ramzan from poultry forms in Pune, Bhusawal etc districts situated near Mumbai and we have to order it a month before Ramzan.” We were very disappointed to see the roasted quail as we have to search hard to find the meat of quail from its bone. But I told my friend Naved that it’s from Jannah and has to be rare and we both started laughing.

After this ‘tragic’ incident our hunger took us to other stall named as Bade Miyan. We were familiar with this name. It’s a famous eatery situated behind Taj Mahal Hotel near Gateway of India. We decided to move and it was difficult to find a place but finally we sat down on a table in a 10 by 10 sq. feet shop just opposite the backdoor of Minara Masjid.

Disappointment followed us here too; the menu was too costly for us. Chicken soup Rs.90, liver, Zaban and tilli soup was around Rs.80. Everything else was above Rs.100. we helplessly ordered one Zaban and liver soup. We wanted to eat something so we finished the soup fast and moved out of the shop.

Now we were desperate to have something and saw a camera crew of a news channel shooting the stall of Shawarma, a fast food staple of Middle East like a sandwich, boneless chicken, meat, and beef hanged on a rod like thing, grilled for a day and it’s ready to eat. Khalid Miyan shaved some chicken and wrapped it in a roti for us in only Rs.30 a piece.

Then we started moving and had the aroma of Nalli Nehari, Kihchda, which was free of course, and started looking for good chicken fry.

We were shocked to see, a Burqa clad woman, in her late 40’s, sitting on the counter of Zee Chinese and tawa center, a lone woman, in the whole Bazar of nearly 200 stalls.

We got in and asked for menu. But this time, luckily, waiter said they don’t have the menu because, “We used to sell Chinese food throughout the year and tawa food only in Ramzan.” I told Naved, my friend, that let’s eat first. We hurriedly ordered a dry chicken 65 and a mixture of liver and kidney gravy with bread.

I was very anxious to know about the brave lady and wanted to ask her but failed to collect the courage to talk to a burqa clad woman. So we concentrated on chicken 65 and liver fry. After finishing I asked a waiter, “Is this lady alone here or she has a son.” Luckily waiter took us to her son Afnan, a 22-year-old boy standing in front of the stall.

He was a shy guy, contrary to her mother who was shouting and ordering all the time to the waiters and busy catering to the customer. Afnan, the eldest son, told us, “His father, Ehsan Patni, died 8 years ago and I was very young to handle the shop, then my mother Farida Patni took over.” He is only HSC passed and has a younger brother Fauzan studying in an ICSE school Golden Jubliee in Std IX.

Then our craving for sweet took us to Suleman Usman Mithaiwala, famous for the delicious sweets. We wanted to have a Malpua- that evil, fried, delicious egg-filled, syrup-doused delicacy but we were full so we agreed to have a Malai Khaja.

Although our stomach was full but “Dil was still mange more.” We wanted to taste Noorani’s sweet lassi and Masala milk but kept it pending for the next time.