Quirky Serves: Mumbai college canteens are wooing students with art on the walls, fusion cuisine

  • Lavina Mulchandani, Hindustan Times, Mumbai
  • Updated: Aug 17, 2016 17:38 IST
(Photo Courtesy: Tushar Bhojwani . )

Muskan Arora, a first-year mass media student from Jai Hind College, Churchgate, considers her college canteen her favorite hangout spot, despite a variety of eating joints in the area.

“It’s not just a place to eat, we connect over more than food,” she says. This canteen is a hub of heated discussions about culture and college activities. The food is unique too; it serves up olive-and-herb sandwiches and something they call ‘Unjunk Bhel’ — a mix of corn, veggies, pulses and a sprinkling of sev that the kids swear by.

The canteen at Jai Hind College serves healthy alternatives to fast food such as Unjunk Bhel. (Photo Courtesy Tushar Bhojwani)

Across the city, college canteens are aiming for this combination of unusual, creative and multi-purpose. For instance, the walls of the canteen at the South Indian Education Society (SIES), Nerul, feature quirky doodles and iconic quotes painted by the college’s students. Anyone who wants is welcome to try their hand at some wall art.

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HR College’s Butterfly Café serves as a platform for budding entrepreneurs to run a stationery store. In line with the city’s changing food scene, college canteens too are experimenting with fusion snacks like mac-and-cheese pizza.And during the Paradigm science festival, the canteen at St Xavier’s College serves its kiwi juice in test tubes.


At the Nerul SIES, the newly renovated canteen has quirky murals drawn by students on the walls featuring everything from superheroes to desi vada pav, chai and samosa battling a tug of war with burger, pizza and French fries.“Students doodle their favourite superhero, the quotes they live by or even caricatures of faculty members,” says Raeesa Mukadam, 20, a recent graduate from the college.And at HR College’s Butterfly Café in Churchgate, students fight it out in food competitions.“At admission time, we also host a tuck shop there where we sell beverages, snacks and stationery to students and parents,” says Nirmit Upadhyay, a second-year commerce student. “This gives us a platform to test our entrepreneurial abilities as we learn how to order and store stock.”

During the science festival Paradigm, the St Xavier’s College canteen serves fruit juice in test tubes. (Photo Courtesy Rahul Matiwadekar)

Brewing festivals

At KC College, Churchgate, students not only enjoy multiple cuisines but also trendy fusion. Good old pizza partners with American nachos to form a pizza loaded with cheese and corn chips, or a pizza base is topped with macaroni, veggies and cheese for a mac-and-cheese treat.“We rarely eat outside college despite the variety of well-known restaurants around,” says Aniket Chitnawis, a final-year BMM student.

The canteen at St Xavier’s serves dishes named after college festivals and their themes. “For instance, during science festival Paradigm, the kiwi juice is served in test tubes,” says Bhandari, of St Xavier’s College, Fort.

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“They serve Malhar herb chicken during our cultural fest Malhar and a special missal pav called Aggie Pav named after our principal Agnelo Menezes, who loves the dish,” he adds.

(With inputs from Alifya Poonawala & Shweta Verhani)

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