In November on a Sunday morning before heading out for brunch Ingrid, Stephan and myself headed over to the Dadar Flower Market. It is one of Bombay’s largest wholesale flower markets. On a Sunday morning the station was not as crowded as it is on the weekdays.
The market is located right outside the station entrance within the by-lanes, spilling over onto the main road and under the flyover. The rising scent from the fresh flowers tries hard to deodorize the filth filled air. The street-scape is layered with street side sellers with their flower-filled baskets and shops selling flower by the weight.
Some flower sellers insisted that they be photographed. Charmed by Ingrid, a particular flower seller insisted she take a rose and handed her a wilting rose.
After soaking in the colourful sight we began walking down the road towards the Dadar market and the rose scented air was traded with the smell of a sea-like odor. We were surrounded by men unloading trucks, men and women balancing baskets and buckets of fish. The surface beneath our feet was covered in fish-juice, this was certainly no Pike Place Market. There was plenty of catfish to be found and they were live and gave of an eerie vibe. One such catfish bounced off and tried to escape only to land on the muddled juice-filled floor. It was then thrown back into the same basket and packed off in a taxi for delivery.
We then dashed off to Cafe Madras for an early brunch. Located off King’s Circle this cafe is known for the South Indian fare that they serve. The cafe caters to regulars and a growing number of tourists. After a twenty-minute wait we were seated by a window on the lower level. This two-level cafe is simple, tight on space with walls painted unevenly and the owners have chosen to keep it that way but that has not stopped them from growing popular.
The service was prompt and friendly. The options were incredible. We called for idlis, medu vadas, rasam vada, ragi dosa and upma podi. I have always avoided rasam but I was blown away by this south Indian soup and the rasam absorbed vada’s that were truly divine and melted in your mouth right-away, I felt blessed. Ingrid seemed to have a cold and a bowl of Rasam worked like magic and was very comforting.
Upma is another dish that I always found to be dry and never appetizing. Our server insisted that we call for it – and guess what we ended up calling for more. Upma podi was essentially an upma cake like an idly covered in a yogurty coconut chutney. It complemented the dryness of the upma really well and was an instant winner.
Sambhar, a lentil based broth made with a medley of vegetables and tamarind is what let me down at Cafe Madras. I found it to be a tad bit bland and boring. The ragi dosa felt healthy and was crisp.
Our conversations that day circled around real estate, urban planning and informal growth of the city. Ingrid and Stephan’s experiences in the city and their experiences on the local trains kept us in splits.
We ended our meal with cups of hot and frothy Madras filter kaapi(coffee). The service is quick but polite not once did we feel rushed. However we behaved and let go of our seats so that the next group of diners were not kept waiting.
Bombay Brunch Brigade meets once a month. The purpose of this group is to meet – have fun, find a travel partner, a date(may be), share brain farts and savour brunches. We will be exploring different brunch places all over Bombay. Join our Facebook group for the next brunch date and location information.
Stephan and Ingrid are in the city working on an independent research project exploring the informal aspects of the city. To learn more visit Interdisciplinary Structure for Sustainable Space research.