Street food in Mumbai.

Street food of Mumbai is the food sold by hawkers from portable market stalls in Mumbai. It is one of the characteristics of the city.[1] The city is known for its distinctive street foods.[2] Although street food is common all over India, street food in Mumbai is noted because people from all economic classes eat on the roadside almost round the clock and it is sometimes felt that the taste of street food is better than restaurants in the city.[3][4][5] Many Mumbaikars like a small snack on the road in the evening.[6] People of Mumbai cutting across barriers of class, religion, gender and ethnicity are passionate about street food.[7] Street food vendors are credited by some for developing the city's food culture.[8] Street food in Mumbai is relatively inexpensive as compared to restaurants and vendors tend to be clustered around crowded areas such as colleges and railway stations.[3]


A street vendor prepares Bhelpuri in Mumbai, Maharashtra
Pav bhaji
Mumbai Vada Pav, the most popular Mumbai food
Vada pav

Mumbai being the capital (and the largest urban area) of Maharashtra is dominated by Maharashtrian food. Vada pav is noted as the most popular street food in Mumbai.[9][10] A sandwich form of Eggs Kejriwal is a common snack or breakfast street food.[11][12][13] Other noted street foods in Mumbai include Dabeli panipuri, bhelpuri, sevpuri, dahipuri, sandwiches, ragda-pattice, pav bhaji, Chinese bhel, Khaman, Dhokla, idlis and dosas, all of which are vegetarian.

In terms of non-vegetarian offerings, omelette-pav, kebabs and fish are found on Mumbai streets.[5] The amount of variety of street food is attributed to the cosmopolitan culture of the city.[14] In the 1980s, Indianised Chinese food was an emerging trend on Mumbai streets.[15] Other popular street food items include Misal pav (spicy curry made of sprouted moth beans which is eaten with paav, Indian bread roll typically a bun), and vegetable frankie (a popular and cheaper version of wraps and rolls).[16]

Kulfi (frozen dairy dessert similar to ice cream) and golah (Indian snow cone sometimes served on a stick) are among the desserts and coolants found on Mumbai streets.[17]

Apart from snacks, Mumbai has several juice and milkshake bars on the roadside that offer a variety of juices and milkshakes.[2] Fresh Sugarcane juice vendors are synonymous with Mumbai roads and offer a cheap form of refreshment.[18][19] Tea vendors cycle around the city, selling the beverage hot on the streets. Street vendors normally remain unaffected by general strike calls and do business all year around.[20] Paan, a betel leaf preparation eaten as a mouth freshener post meals in India[21] is also sold at Mumbai's roadside stalls.[22]

Areas and spread

Lanes with a sizable cluster of street food stalls are known as Khau Galli locally which mean 'Food Alley' in Marathi.[23] Girgaum Chowpatty beach is noted for its Bhelpuri and kulfi.[24][25] Street vendors at Nariman Point, one of the city's financial hubs, do brisk business during the lunch hour.[26]

Mumbai's street food has made its way into kitchens of restaurants in the city, including five star hotels.[3][27][28] In fact, restaurants in various parts of the world have incorporated Mumbai's street food into their menu cards.[24][29] Homegrown fast food companies that serve street food in Mumbai have been launched in recent years.[30] Despite the many pros and cons of street food,[31] it forms a daily diet of many office goers and college students in the city.


Some people avoid street food because of hygiene issues, however the larger public, irrespective of class enjoy Mumbai's street food.[27] Restaurants and hotels have capitalised on this phenomenon by offering street food to their clientele.[28] A large number of hawkers trade illegally, without mandatory permits from the local municipality, by bribing officials.[1][32] Drives to evict hawkers are regularly held, though the hawkers return after a short period of time.[33] Equipment and other goods seized from illegal hawkers are returned by the municipality after the hawker pays a fine.[34] In 2007, the Supreme Court ruled in a case against illegal hawking by asking the municipality to demarcate 230 areas in the city as legal hawking zones, a number that was later increased to 1700 areas; this is still to be implemented.[35] A news report in 2009 claimed that no hawking licenses had been issued in Mumbai for 20 years and that out of the estimated 250,000 hawkers in the city only about 17,000 had a valid license.[36]

A controversy emerged in 2011, when a panipuri vendor from Thane was filmed urinating into a container that was also used to serve the customers. The event led to a public uproar and a major political drama in the city;[37] Shiv Sena and Maharashtra Navnirman Sena members again attacked North Indians, targeting the Panipuri and Bhelpuri sellers of Mumbai and Thane.[38] The vendor concerned was arrested by the police and taken to court, which fined him and thereafter let him off with a warning.[39] After action against all panipuri vendors across the city by political parties, the vendor in question, who himself was in the business for 15 years, chose to give up the trade altogether and take up a job with a private security agency.[40]

See also


  1. ^ a b Green, Jen (2007). Mumbai. Evans Brothers. p. 38. ISBN 0237531259.
  2. ^ a b Abram, David (2004). Goa. Rough Guides. p. 267. ISBN 1843530813.
  3. ^ a b c "Snack Attack, Mumbai. Eating Safe Street Food". The New York Times. 16 January 2009. Retrieved 21 March 2012.
  4. ^ Dalal, Tarla (2010). Mumbai Roadside Snacks. Sanjay & Co. p. 3. ISBN 8189491660.
  5. ^ a b "Get set for a taste of real Mumbai". Daily News and Analysis. 31 January 2009. Retrieved 21 March 2012.
  6. ^ "Mumbai street food: What's a Japanese sous chef got to do with it?". CNN. 7 August 2009. Retrieved 21 March 2012.
  7. ^ Anjaria, Jonathan Shapiro (2008). Unruly streets: Everyday practices and promises of globality in Mumbai. ProQuest. p. 2. ISBN 0549763872.
  8. ^ "Masterchef hits streets". Deccan Chronicle. 19 November 2011. Retrieved 21 March 2012.
  9. ^ "Jumbo King tries a McDonald's with vada pav - 10,000 a day & counting". The Telegraph. 11 July 2004. Archived from the original on 15 September 2012. Retrieved 21 March 2012.
  10. ^ "The king of Bombay's street food: Wada pav". Daily News and Analysis. 19 April 2011. Retrieved 21 March 2012.
  11. ^ Menon, Smitha (11 March 2023). "Bread, Egg, Cheese, Chile—That's Your Ingredient List". Bon Appétit. Retrieved 28 January 2024.
  12. ^ "Eggs Kejriwal: Would you like to try Mumbai's 'fancy egg breakfast'?". The Indian Express. 19 April 2021. Retrieved 28 January 2024.
  13. ^ Razak, Ayesha (15 August 2019). "Eggs Kejriwal - Indian breakfast". Good Housekeeping. Retrieved 28 January 2024.
  14. ^ "Street food reflects city's cosmopolitan culture". Daily News and Analysis. 28 July 2009. Retrieved 21 March 2012.
  15. ^ "India gets a taste for Chinese". Asia Times. 30 October 2007. Archived from the original on 21 August 2008. Retrieved 21 March 2012.((cite news)): CS1 maint: unfit URL (link)
  16. ^ "Mumbai's yummy street food". The Free Press Journal. 26 April 2015. Retrieved 5 August 2015.
  17. ^ "Bombay cafe makes a bang in London". The Boston Globe. 29 December 2010. Retrieved 21 March 2012.
  18. ^ "Chop sticks". Mid-Day. 7 January 2010. Retrieved 21 March 2012.
  19. ^ "Chilled sugarcane chunks are perfect antidote to hot summer days". The Economic Times. 15 May 2009. Retrieved 21 March 2012.
  20. ^ "All in the search of food". Moneylife Magazine. 5 July 2007. Retrieved 21 March 2012.
  21. ^ "Paan-tastic, your mouth freshner". Daily News and Analysis. 12 June 2010. Retrieved 21 March 2012.
  22. ^ "Khaike paan Benaraswala". Daily News and Analysis. 13 May 2008. Retrieved 21 March 2012.
  23. ^ "Traffic Park as entertainment avenue and khau galli. Why not?". The Times of India. 11 March 2012. Archived from the original on 12 March 2012. Retrieved 21 March 2012.
  24. ^ a b "Bhel puri". Toronto Star. 3 May 2005. Retrieved 21 March 2012.
  25. ^ "Chowpatty's kulfi travels to the US". The Economic Times. 23 August 2006. Retrieved 21 March 2012.
  26. ^ Bindloss, Joseph (2006). Best of Mumbai. Lonely Planet. p. 49. ISBN 1741047374.
  27. ^ a b "Street food, hot and healthy!". Daily News and Analysis. 4 August 2010. Retrieved 21 March 2012.
  28. ^ a b "Street food burps to top of 5-star chaats". The Times of India. 6 September 2003. Archived from the original on 3 January 2013. Retrieved 21 March 2012.
  29. ^ "Indian street food is worth seeking out". Charlotte Observer. 27 July 2011. Retrieved 21 March 2012.
  30. ^ "Mumbai takes on McDonald's with veggie street food". 22 September 2008. Archived from the original on 25 September 2008. Retrieved 21 March 2012.
  31. ^ "Pros and Cons of Street Food". 5 February 2020. Retrieved 2 December 2021.
  32. ^ "Only 34 FIRs on illegal hawkers in 3 years". The Times of India. 23 November 2011. Archived from the original on 3 January 2013. Retrieved 26 March 2012.
  33. ^ "BMC will soon swoop down on illegal hawkers". The Indian Express. 18 July 2011. Retrieved 26 March 2012.
  34. ^ "BMC steps up action against illegal hawkers". The Times of India. 6 May 2011. Archived from the original on 3 January 2013. Retrieved 26 March 2012.
  35. ^ "'Stop the excuses, enforce SC order'". The Times of India. 23 November 2011. Archived from the original on 3 January 2013. Retrieved 26 March 2012.
  36. ^ "Hawker shocker". Mumbai Mirror. 16 December 2009. Retrieved 26 March 2012.
  37. ^ "Sena-BJP split ways over pani puri waalas". MiD DAY. 19 March 2011. Retrieved 21 March 2012.
  38. ^ "Pani puri scandal: MNS attacks vendors for urinating in serving vessels". Sify. 15 March 2011. Archived from the original on 17 April 2011. Retrieved 21 March 2012.
  39. ^ "Do not say you weren't warned". Mumbai Mirror. 13 April 2011. Retrieved 22 March 2012.
  40. ^ "Most famous paani puri walla quits to become a watchman". Mumbai Mirror. 22 April 2011. Retrieved 22 March 2012.