South Indian fast food on the go. He carries his eatery on his head and walks the streets on Malabar Hills tendering to the hunger of all those who approach him. Mani is our own Idli/Dalwada/Meduwada-wala of our neighborhood.

Behind these tasty treats is a family secret recipe of the red and the green chutney made with a special blend of tomatoes, onions, red chillies, grated coconut and green chillies, coriander with coconut respectively.  Mani and his wife start their day at 4 am, firing up the steam Idlis alongside frying Dalwadas and Meduwadas. He then packs the delicacies in a container which he mounts on his head and leaves for Peddar road at 7 am each morning, usually
starting his business by 8am. Selling a single plate with three pieces of this mouth-watering treats at a prize of Rs.10. He wraps his sales by 1 or 2 in the afternoon, usually because he’s sold out.

Mani has now been selling Idlis for 16 years. He migrated to Mumbai from Tirunevelli in Tamil Nadu to work as a labourer. With the irregularity of employment and flow in the money, and rising family expenses he started his Idli business in 1998, sharing with us his cultural delicacies.

Mani is the sole Idli (bread)-winner in his family. He’s married and has two daughters and one son. His eldest daughter is now married and the second daughter has finished her HSC. Mani’s son is currently doing his B. Com. along with a course in computers. He understands the value of education hence a major chunk of Mani’s income goes towards educating his children. He’s hunting for a suitable groom for his second daughter. He doesn’t want his children to join the trade.

These home-made, tasty and affordable snack of Idlis and Vadas with their spicy chutneys are well sought after. Apart from selling on the streets Mr. Mani also delivers parcels to households and offices around our neighbourhood.

So next time you see a man walking on the street with a container on his head calling out “Idli, Vada, Sambhar” don’t hesitate to indulge your taste buds in one of the most delicious snacks of all time.