Sweet Treats on Mumbai Streets

Indians love sweet treats! And Mumbai’s streets have something for every tooth. Like every country, India has its very own version of desserts, but rather than scouting through bakeries and mithai (sweet) shops, I decided to look at what Mumbai’s streets had to offer for all our sweet cravings.

GULAAB JAMMUN

On the streets of Mumbai you will find ice cream stalls, cotton candy, some irresistible kulfi creations near Marine Drive, paan and something that was very new to me: the gulaab jammun stall. This stall is owned by Hari Prasad; he lives in Sion but travels every day to Andheri and parks his stall near Morya Landmark. When I asked him why gulaab jammun, with utmost confidence he instantly said ‘kyunki mujhe yehi banane aata hain.’(Because this is all I know to make). In no time, everyone at the stall began to laugh including me.

Such a simple yet honest reply, I thought. But he wasn’t done yet. He went to explain further and told me he is just like everyone else, trying to make ends meet. Even at 65 he needs to work, but he believes one shouldn’t do something because it brings in the bread for the family. Even in the worst of situations, one should always do what they love. This is the very reason that even at the age of 65 he said ‘I like travelling all the way from Sion to Andheri, serving the one thing I like making – Hari prasads Gulaab Jammun.’

PAAN

Paan is a regular favourite in most Indian families. However, this time I decided to try out a few rather innovative versions of it. I came across many interesting types such as the chocolate paan, strawberry paan, coffee paan, cherry paan, chilled cherry paan, mixed fruit paan and the regular sweet paan. I must warn you, DO NOT try and have all of these in the span of 2 days because it is dangerously sweet.

I had once before tried the chocolate paan but this time it was a whole new level of sweetness. Anyone who generally doesn’t have a sweet tooth, I suggest you stay away from this one. Another interesting addition to this was the Viagra paan, which according to me is probably the most…for the lack of a better English word, ‘hatke paan’ I have come across. 

GOLA

The next dessert on the streets of Mumbai is my personal childhood favourite – ‘the gola’ (flavoured ice). I don’t quite remember when my craze for gola started but the credit goes to my sister. In Mumbai, it is not that hard to spot a golawalla on the street but no one can beat the one at Juhu Chowpatty. It is the one place in Mumbai where one can find the most conventional yet daring flavours with a twist of chocolate pieces, dry fruits and more. If you are somewhere around Juhu, schedule an evening of sheer bliss at Juhu Chowpatty and indulge in some seriously bright, fun coloured ice. The key is to spill a little, get a brain freeze and go back home with coloured lips, a messy T-shirt and sticky hands. If not, you haven’t truly enjoyed a gola.

Ernestine Ulmer once said ‘Life is uncertain, eat desserts first.’ and I agree.

- Margaret Jeyaraj

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