Pilgrimage to Bandra

I don’t quite remember which Mumbai friend first introduced me to Pani Puri at Elco Market in Bandra.  Whoever you are, I am eternally grateful.  Over the past couple of years, as I visited Bombay on my bi-monthly business trips, I would always somehow make time for my pilgrimage to Bandra and Elco Market.  Now that I live here, I am trying to limit my pilgrimages to one weekly trip.

I didn’t even know how much I liked pani puri until I tried this dish here.   It’s technically street food.  Here at Elco, you have a sense of cleanliness (real or imagined).   The guy who’s actually dishing out the pani puri wears a clean ,disposable glove – at least on the one hand that dips the puri into the spicy and sweet water to make it whole and complete.   And, I heard (but never verified) that they use bottled or filtered water to make the pani.  That can be pretty important.  But nothing is quite as important as sheer taste!

For the uninformed and uninitiated, Pani Puri consists of taking tiny, crisp puris and dipping each in an equal amount of sweet/tart and spicy water, then handing it quickly over to the customer.  Included in the puri will be a small amount of boiled lentil.  Said customer then puts the entire water-filled puri in his or her mouth and gulps it down.  At Elco, they don’t serve you a plate where you make your own.  You stand around the pani puri counter where the pani puri guy makes each masterpiece himself – with just the right amount of sweet and spicy water – for you to wait your turn and just gobble down.

Seshram Serving Up Delicious Pani Puri at Elco Market; Photo by vishalphotography.com

One “plate” of pani puris at Elco consists of six servings or puris.  Most people settle for one plate and then branch out to some of the other goodies that are being freshly prepared.   Some graduate to maybe two plates and you can sometimes see on their faces that that was more than they had bargained for.

But not moi.  If I don’t have three full plates at each visit, then there’s something truly wrong with me.   Each tiny puri is power-packed with taste and flavor.  It is crisp yet succulent.  It is spicy yet sweet.  It is minimal yet full.  It is simply, food ecstacy.   Of course, this is just my humble opinion.  You would think I am describing something else altogether!  But, I insist that I’m not.

On your next visit to this city, see if you can find some time to make your own pilgrimage to Elco Market at Bandra.  It will be worth it.  This review shows what other goodies you can find there.  And, here at this photo blog is another great picture of the pani puri at Elco (scroll down and you can’t miss it!), in addition to some wonderful and colorful pictures of Mumbai.   Enjoy!

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Posted on April 20, 2011, in Food, india, Mumbai, Mumbai street scene, street food and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

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