Coronavirus Forces Yet Another Historic Change: Ramadan Food Bazaar

by Shelli

For the first time in at least a century, Mohammed Ali Road’s iconic food stalls are closed. Because of India’s coronavirus lockdown, the normal hustle and bustle seen during Ramadan at the food bazaar is gone and the stalls are now shuttered.

In previous years, almost a century of years in fact, during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, Mohammed Ali Road in Mumbai becomes a food carnival. Both tourists and Muslims, who of course might be one in the same, enjoy the festivities.

This year is different, though.

Large gatherings are banned because of India’s coronavirus lockdown. Public transportation services have been reduced. Most stores are shut.

India’s lockdown ends May 3. However, with Mumbai being a virus hot spot, restrictions are expected to continue beyond May 3. It’s unlikely that foods stalls will open before Ramadan ends around May 23.

Which Foods Are Offered At The Ramadan Food Bazaar?

The majority of the businesses during Ramadan are seasonal stalls. There are a few operating year-round.

Food writer Kalyan Karmakar, who is based in Mumbai and first visited Mohammed Ali Road during Ramadan 20 years ago, shares that “It’s electrifying, it’s buzzing, it’s packed with people. There are so many lights and festoons.”

Coronavirus Ramadan Food Bazaar

Mughlai Tikka looks delicious!

Image: Wikimedia Commons

In case you’ve never been to the stalls in Mumbai, they specialize in Mughlai cuisine. Mughlai cuisine originated centuries ago and is named after the ruling Mughal dynasty. Stalls offer hundreds of meat dishes and desserts.

When asked what’s special about Mohammed Ali Road, Karmakar says it attracts people from all social classes and religions. He describes it as a huge cultural unifier.

Where is Mohammed Ali Road?

You’ll find Mohammed Ali Road in the southeastern part of Mumbai. The road goes for a mile and is home to many mosques. One famous one is the 19th century Minara Masjid. For Ramadan they light up their green minarets!

Minara Masjid during Ramadan

Image: Wikimedia Commons

Final Thoughts

It’s very sad to think of coronavirus and the Ramadan food bazaar closing. Having never been to Mumbai, the more I read about the community experience of the Ramadan food bazaar AKA the food carnival, the more interested, and hungry, I become. The food, wow!

“Around sunset when the fast breaks, restaurant owners pass glasses of Rooh Afza, a rose-flavored drink, and hand out fruits to everyone,” says Karmakar. “Then the food starts coming!”

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