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Bombay Duck only in Bombay Posted by on Aug 20, 2021 in Culture, Food

Photo by Marvin Ozz from Pexels

I am a proud Bombayite. I still refer to my city as Bombay and not Mumbai as it is now known. As with many cities, Bombay has its eccentricities. May I say beloved eccentricities? I along with many who have left the shores of Bombay, decades ago, still get nostalgic when we hear certain food terms. Nowhere else can one find these kinds of foods that I am about to write about. Many other cities have tried, believe me. But none come close.

So what are the foods that one finds in Bombay? Let’s start with the ones that bear the city’s name.

  1. Bombay Duck – a seafood delicacy, this is not a duck but a type of eel like fish मछली. It is squishy and can only be eaten deep fried in a spicy batter or dried. The dried version is not only an acquired taste but an acquired smell too. I know. My parent’s flat overlooked a fishing village गाँव, close to the shores of the Arabian Sea. The fisherfolk would dry the Bombay Duck on lines, providing the neighborhood with an unforgettable fishy smell.
  2. Baida Pav – this dish is  made up of eggs scrambled with onion, tomatoes and green chillies with a sprinkling of cilantro on top. Locals eat it with a pan fried bread roll. Baida is the Bombay term for egg. The other Hindi word is अंडा ‘anda’. This dish is also known as ‘bhurji pao’. Pav or pao is the colloquial Hindi word for bread. It is commonly used instead of रोटी.
  3. Most Indian dishes use onions and potatoes. The Hindi word for onion isप्याज ‘pyaaz’ but in Bombay the colloquial Hindi word is ‘kaanda’. Similarly, the word for potato is आलू ‘aloo’ in Hindi but in Bombay Hindi the word is ‘batata’. Surprise your Indian friends by using this term.
  4. Three veggies also have nicknames in Bombay. Lokhi लौकी, a long gourd is called ‘doodhi’, cilantro धनिया which is ‘hara dhaniya’ in Hindi is called ‘kothmeel’ or ‘kothmeer’. And cucumber खीरा or ‘kheera’ is called ‘kakdi’.
  5. The Bombay Sandwich is a college favorite among starving students. Vendors stand outside and sell this simple sandwich to throngs of teens. The treat is made up of two slices of white bread, layered with first Amul butter, a green cilantro and chilli chutney, thinly sliced tomato and potato and another veggie सबजी of your choice.
  6. Farsan is a variety of deep fried snacks नाश्ता that are typically sold in Mumbai. These snacks are derived from Gujarati and Rajasthani cuisines mostly.
  7. Another Mumbai favorite is misal pav. This is a spicy lentil dish eaten with hot buttery मक्खन bread. The dish is garnished with relish of raw onion, cilantro and chilly dipped in lime.
  8. Lastly, you cannot eat any of the dishes mentioned without the famous Bombay cutting chai चाय. This is a strong sweet hot tea with milk served in a typical tumbler found in Irani restaurants in Mumbai. The name cutting chai comes from the fact that only half a glass of tea is served.
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About the Author: Nicole Herbert Dean

Language, Region and Culture Consultant to the Department of Defense and United States Military.