Little India in a pan #MyDubai
I am a bit of a FryingPan fan girl. As a matter of fact, I actively look for food tours now when planning a holiday since it is a singularly most interesting way to discover a city. It not only gives you an insight to some interesting places in a new city, but a resident's insight into the city they live in. And when it comes to the Ahmed girls - Arva's sister Farida heads this latest one - a lot of lively and interesting stories around the area. Since I went on the first tour with Arva - the Middle East one - I have wanted to go on the Little India tour. I do like my snacks and while dosa places are abundant and Bombay Chowpatty is available in a lot of the food courts around town, its nice to have someone that has tried and tested all these places and handpicked the ones for us to try. Frying Pan adventures are organised in their communications. From the moment you book with them, they keep you in the loop and have thought of every eventuality from detailed instructions on where to meet to what to wear (suggestions of course). And you are well advised to following their instructions.
We met on Khalid bin Walid street and began the 4-hour walking tour. There was a slight humidity but negligible since the weather was a bit breezy as well. Thank God for cooling temperatures. It was nice to get into air-conditioning every now and then but it wasn't unpleasant walking around.
It started with pani puri and bhel puri (of course). There was a choice of going 50-50 between sweet and spicy, going heavy on sweet or the other way depending on tastes. Love pani puri and while my daughter-in-law makes these snacks quite well, I can never have enough of these. The stories on the origins of these snacks and the places that offer them were even more entertaining. We wandered down to a small shop making fresh bondas (deep fried curried potato balls) and samosas served with some spicy green chutney. Wasn't so sure of the samosas but the bondas were good.
Next stop was Sangeetas where we donned safety nets for our hair and went behind the scenes and watched them make medu vadas (donut shaped deep fried snacks made of Urad dal or split lentils) We also watched them make the "topi" dosa (I thought only dunce caps were cone shaped). These were served to us along with samplings of idlis, upma, pongal, and three different kinds of chutneys. All this washed down by some traditional 'filter' coffee. This was one of two of our main course stops and at this stage we were only allowed to be around 50% full. Umm okay if you say so. I was not stuffed yet. We were supposed to try some freshly baked bread but apparently the bakery shut down a few days before the tour. It had been relocated but in a way I think we were all quite glad.
We wandered around to Sind Punjab where we tried the chicken tikka - freshly grilled on an open brazier - along with some paneer tikka. Drank some freshly extracted sugar cane juice after a very long time. Actually I think the last time I had sugar cane juice might have been before I left India for Dubai 25 years ago. Very refreshing.
A little more wandering around the alleys of Meena Bazaar where we were regaled with stories of some of the shops around the area including a visit to a grocery selling very quirky Indian spices including rock salt and all the ingredients for things like bhel puri. Also went into a veggie stall where the others in the group were introduced to a few veggies like bitter gourd and drumsticks. We had a short stop at a sweet shop where we had some of the best Mysore Pak I have ever tasted. Here. Darn should've written down the name. But to be good, I resisted the temptation to buy more of these and take home. My sugar level would have taken a beating.
The next stop was Kulcha King where we were shown how they made their stuffed lachcha Kulcha (you have to go there to see what I am talking about). Served with some very nice chutneys and accompaniments and washed down with a glass of lassi. I think at this stage we were quite done. Thank God for having paced ourselves and for all the walking. I, at least, wasn't uncomfortable but quite full.
The last stop - kulfi. Freshly made, delicious.
I think everyone should do at least one food tour. Its a different perspective. If you are a foodie, then this should definitely be on your list. I have done now done four of these tours (one of them was a test tour that never really took off - shame) and have the new breakfast tour as a treat post-Gitex. If you want your guests to try something off the beaten track, book one today. That's all I'm saying.