At some point in time, every resident of Mumbai has stepped out in search for an odd house item, or exotic variety of fruit, only to end up finding it in no other place than the faithful Mahatma Jyotiba Phule Market, also known as Crawford Market. A shopper’s dream-come-true (for both locals and tourists alike), this market is located at the corner of one of South Mumbai’s busiest junctions, just north of the iconic Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus railway station.
Housed in a heritage building, the market has an indoor area filled with dry fruits, spices, household items and all kinds of imported foods. However, it is the semi-outdoor area occupied by fruit vendors, which is a particularly favourite spot in the No-Mad universe. Picky locals come to this market from all walks of life, carrying their grocery bags and lists, determined to bargain with witty sellers for the best fruit in the city.
The vendors, almost all male, put up quite a show. Each morning they come to their designated spot under a canopy of colourful tarpaulin sheets and arrange exotic fruits in impressive displays. Some of these arrangements champion a single variety like mangoes, melons or papayas, while others are towering assortments of a number of colourful fruits in baskets or ‘tokris’. Once the work is done, they light some incense, relax and sit beside their displays like proud peacocks. In the beginning they seem to ignore customers. It is only until the very last minute, when a buyer seems to be leaving, that suddenly they are ready to dance around the fruits, reach out for samples to touch and taste, and assure you that their price is “the best price madam!”
The months of June-July are when stone fruits are in season. Plump peaches, juicy lichis, cherries in every hue and dark plums are available in abundance and we bought a basket full while they last…now to try some simple recipes No-Mad style !