You wouldn’t expect to find some of Mumbai’s best kebabs among car and bike scraps, industrial shops and more, but that’s the reality of Kurla, one of the eastern side’s most notorious suburbs. Dominated by the Sunni Muslim community, the area is full of joints serving Mughlai cuisine. Vada pav will be hard to find, but kebabs are decorating every store front. Starting with Hotel Naaz at the Vidyavihar end, and ending with Lucknowee Zaika at the Kurla Station end, this section has eight to ten amazing eateries which run to full houses every day.

Don’t wait for Ramzan to explore this gastro underbelly of Mumbai. A good line to open with? “Bhai, ek chicken sanju baba, shami kebab plate, aur half nihari aur roti lana.

Nawaab Kebab

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This rustic, unfinished piece of a structure is my personal favourite for the cheapest meal around. A parantha and two kebabs can be had for around INR 70 – a stellar dinner for the mason class. Sit on the worn-out benches, with no menu, no formalities and no fuss.

Someone will head to your table within a minute, dropping two kebabs, a parantha, green chutney and a bunch of mint twigs. The place itself is not the cleanest and classiest, but then i never came for that.

Just like a thali service, the server keep taking rounds asking the customer if they want more kebabs or paranthas. The kebabs are made from bade ka gosht, which used to translate to beef and is now water buffalo meat. The paranthas are half tava and half deep-fried, coming out crisp and bubbly in texture from outside and yet soft like a roti from inside.

They also have a takeaway counter right at the main street which is forever busy with orders. If you don’t judge a book by its cover, then this is your place for a dirt cheap dinner.

Delhi Zaika

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Delhi Zaika is Nawaab’s next-door neighbour. Slightly posher than its neighbour, and a wider variety of dishes make it a good option for a proper meal. Their chicken barra, chicken Peshawari, chicken dahiwala, changezi and cream tava chicken are the most popular items.

Personally, the barra, dahiwala and cream tava chicken are my favourites. Mind you, most of their starters are not boneless. I usually smooth ‘bhai’ talk them to get myself a good chunk of the thigh side cut than the neck or wings.

They do offer nalli nihari, but I believe that was during Ramzan. It was decent, but not comparable to Noor Mohammedi, where the gravy is the star.

JJ Jalebi

Photo source: Vitamin via Pixabay [CC0]

Photo source: Vitamin via Pixabay [CC0]

Cross over to the other side from Delhi Zaika and your will see the bright JJ Jalebi signboard. Tiny writing underneath declares that “Main Branch at JJ Corner”.

Yes, it’s the same sweet-house that people throng to every year on their Ramzan food trails for phirni, halwa, bondi, balushahi and malpua. They offer the same saccharine options here, and also prepare mawa jalebi {but only between the hours of 6pm and 9pm}. Their jalebis are brown, thick and drenched in chasni – a close match to the mawa jalebi of Burhanpur Jalebi Centre behind Minara Masjid.

If a heavy dose of jalebi or malpua with an additional spoonful or two of rabdi post-dinner is your way to end your meal, then JJ Jalebi should be on your list.

Khan’s Kitchen

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The self-proclaimed dal gosht’ king of Kurla is Khan’s Kitchen {located bang opposite City Hospital on LBS Marg}. This is yet another attempt to serve wholesome meals at reasonable prices. KK offers a menu that’s half tava snacks and half wholesome meals. With dishes like naanchap, baida roti, chicken roll, tava bhuna, chicken Delhi fry and much more, KK brings a slice of Minara Masjid to Kurla West.

What makes KK stand out is the quality of their meat, especially in their succulent chicken kebabs – it can give the hajji tikka from Bohri Mohalla a run for their money. Less fat, more protein, and perfectly marinated.

Baida Roti here is served with a twist, with shreds of chicken, onion and capsicum, all packed with a mild masala as opposed to the roaring red keema usually spotted at almost other place.

KK’s dal gosht is recommended to people who aren’t familiar to this beauty of dal cooked with shank meat and dudhi, served with bagara rice. They also do a kofta biryani and the trending Arabian Chinese rice {especially popular in Byculla, JJ and Mazgaon restaurants}, which essentially means fried rice served with tandoori chicken.

Check out Assad Dadan’s blog, Medium and Rare, here.

Photos courtesy: Assad Dadan