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When The Chatwala Comes Home…

Masala Puri

We had street side chaat at home…the chatwala came home, complete with his tokri (basket), stand and made it from scratch at home. Same taste, except this was made with home-made curd and distilled water to reduce contamination/ keep it hygienic. I haven’t had so much chaat in years.

In Vile-Parle, at my cousin’s house, there is a chaat wala who has been making house calls for years. So, when I told them about my week-long stay in Mumbai, we made a plan to call him on Saturday weekend. Armed with puri’s, puffed rice, teekha and meetha cutneys, sev , potatoes, onions and whatever he uses he came over at 8:15 pm.

Chaat wala made a house call

Soon, we had platefuls of bhelpuri’s , pani-puris, dahi puri, sev puri etc. No standing by the road awaiting our turn, no nagging worry about how safe the water is for consumption, no chasing Varun. Varun played while we had an chat-pati evening. Spicy, Tangy and crispy.

Varda enjoying Bhel Puri

Bhel Puri

Chaat wala in action

Sudeep and Abhishek enjoying Pani Puri

Pani Puri

We must have had several rounds of chaat. This was a novel concept. Perfect for small parties or kitty parties. No preparation and minimal clean-up. Once he was done, we paid him, cleaned up a bit and that’s its we were ready for some home-made dessert – phirni. Chat wala doing house call was first for us – you can probably tell by the tone of this post 🙂 Apparently, they also know a dosa guy who makes house calls. We have that already planned for when we visit next!


Varun’s Feathered Friends


Since our weeklong stay at my mom’s place, Varun is fond of two things: trains and feeding the birds. The complex in which my mom stays has two huge century old Banyan trees. A lot of birds nest there and flit around. To keep him engaged, mom gives him a few rice grains to feed the birds. He throws them one by one.

Today morning, I shadowed him and took photos.The birds were wary of me but came up to Varun. A few snapshots from my moms window sill below. Hope you enjoy them.




There were the usual suspects, crows, pigeon’s and mynas, an occasional house sparrow , a rare parrot or two and even a few kites.

Common house sparrow

Kite chasing a prey


We had fun identifying birds, making cluck-cluck sounds to invite them to the balcony and give them rice grains. Try it sometime, it’s a fun way to spend some time with kids.

Joy of Custom Gold and Pearl Jewellery

My sister-in-law and I had a couple of gold pendants and a pearl string that we had bought over the years. It was lying as is in the closet.

So this time when I came to Mumbai for 10 days, I made the most of the free evenings to visit a couple of stores and make a necklace. The pendant is a berry shaped round bead which is a style shared by all my cousins. All my cousins have one such bead set in their mangalsutra – symbolizing the inseparable bond between a husband and a wife. Its a signature family style.

Initially I thought of wearing it on black leather string and even pinned a few styles that were tribal rather than traditional. But I didn’t quiet like them. And the bead was tucked away in the corner.

This time, I decided to go mainstream and made it into a traditional mangalsutra which I can wear more often. My SIL had checked out a few places earlier and we decided to get a pattern made in Vaman Hari Pethe – a quintessential Maharashtrian jeweler.

Once there, we were greeted with a wall full of designs. We mixed and matched the string or ‘saar’  with the bead. Some were chunkier and others light, some were long, others short, some had more gold beads and others had more gold. Some had chain styles interlaced and others were plain. We tried to go for a contemporary pattern and within half an hour we had my new mangalsutra ready.

New mangalsutra

I have been sporting it for couple of days now  and am loving it!

Thrilled with our success with gold shopping, last evening, we went to Magic Mirror in Matunga for some pearl jewellery. My SIL has pearls that have been lying unused and we went to check out what could be made out of it. Pearl string

Again, we were there for couple of hours, trying out various combinations and patterns. They showed us patterns that are in trend now and sets they had made for other clients.

Pearls with traditional meenakari work

Pearl set in making

Finally, after  funneled it down to a few combinations.

Victorian inspired with side floral pendant victorian inspired floral bottom pendant

We were loving the floral pendants when my SIL saw the choker set in white minakari. She was smitten. It was something she was sure to use. Getting a custom-made set with her pearls or buying  a ready-made set. We were in a big dilemma.

Pearl choket set with square meenakari work

So we did what we do best when in such situation. We stepped away for a few minutes and focused on something else.As we were in Matunga, a Mumbai suburb with strong Tamil presence, we stocked up on sambhar and rasam powder, got a South Indian style filter coffee set, some flowers and then decided to check out a few other places before committing to this design.

The pearls customization/shopping continues, while I enjoy my new mangalsutra!

King of Street Food – Vada Pav

Move over sandwiches and burgers, at least in Mumbai and most of Maharashtra, Vada Pav is THE king of street food.The piping hot potato vadas wrapped in ‘not-too-thick not-too-thin’ besan flour and deep-fried to golden perfection. The vadas are then straddled in a typical indian pav – not sweet at all like its American counterpart: the dinner roll or sour like a sourdough – and liberally doused in garlic chutney.

Depending on how hot you like, fried green chilli peppers complete the combo.

This is almost always one of the first things we try outside of ‘maa ke haath ka khana’ when we travel to Mumbai. Everyone has their favorite vada pav joints and over the years we have tried most of them – be it in Mumbai, Panvel, Lonavala or Pune. Two places stand out for us – one is Datta Vada Pav in Panvel (yes, we drive all the way to Panvel!) and other is Golden chikki in Lonavala.

If you are hungry and looking for a quick bite, this satisfies the need. In Mumbai, you can get vada pav at any street corner. Unlike Hyderabad where you have to scout for one. Vada pav factory next to Madhapur petrol pump has a fairly good vada pav. Delhiwala and Bikanerwala have a north Indian style vada pav– which is also pretty good.

Its raining here  in Hyderabad thanks to  cyclone Nilam . It’s the perfect weather to enjoy a vada pav. As is the Fall in US. So go on, have one in Mayuri ( Redmond folks) or make one at home. There is no excuse not have one this weekend!

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