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16.09.2014

He is Marine Drive’s version of the Soup Nazi, orchestrating the flow of patrons with the flick of a finger, moving them up and down the ranks with military precision (left for potato, right for chickpea; left when you’re starting out, right as you get done), all the while ladling up crisp little puris with big flavors, just the right amount of imli and paani and carbs. Disobedience of any sort is sure to warrant a stern look or even a time out, but not if you’re us: us he knew when we were little and so we get a break, an extra puri, sometimes even a smile.

The BMC shooed him off in the early 2000s, breaking countless hearts and as one resident lamented, driving down real estate prices in the neighborhood.

Ask people that grew up around these parts and they’ll remember the B Road Paani-Puri Uncle, who would stand opposite Yankee Doodle under a cheery umbrella and calmly cater to upwards of 200 customers everyday. The BMC shooed him off in the early 2000s, breaking countless hearts and as one uncle lamented, driving down real estate prices in the neighborhood. Much to our delight, the stall is back, this time with a BMC license and under the same family management, and the chaat is exactly how we remember it.

Come here for lip-numbingly, eyes-wateringly spicy puchkas and made-to-order ragda patties that is cooked on an open stove, so leave your squeamishness at home. The guys here wear no gloves and have no compunctions about kneading bare finders deep into the potato or dipping into cold paani. They claim they use only Bisleri though, and this Scouter has never gotten sick eating here, despite her embarrassingly low, just-returned-from-America immunity to street food.

He’s here everyday starting at 5:30 pm until supplies last, which is never later than 8 pm. He also does take away, but the food’s not nearly as good even if you live just across the street. If you happen to miss him, comfort yourself with a paper cone from the Bhel Guy down the street, another re-return from our childhood who doles out crispy sev puri and the yummiest green chutney, but is really no match for the explosive carousel of the paani puri guy, each puchka served right before you swallow the last one, balanced precariously between a bad-tummy and just-healthy-enough, filled to the bursting with paani, sea breeze and childhood nostalgia.

Getting there: At the corner of B Road, opposite Inter Continental Hotel, Marine Drive, Rs 40 for a plate of paani puri.

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