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Mumbaiwale: A free recipe book by migrant women workers in Mumbai has a flavour of far away

The e-book Food Memories of Migrant Women, published by Mumbai Mobile Crèches records what women construction workers have left behind

mumbai Updated: Aug 21, 2018 10:16 IST
Rachel Lopez
Rachel Lopez
Hindustan Times
Migrant labourers from across India make their homes in Mumbai before they start work on making our homes.(Rishikesh Choudhary/HT)

Who builds our skyscrapers – those 1.5 BHKs that fit nothing, those 3.5BHKs that fit only a little more? Across Mumbai, as the dust billows from construction sites, it’s easy to forget the humans they hide from view. Migrant labourers from across India make their homes in Mumbai before they start work on making our homes.

Many come with their families – kids who don’t speak the language and have no access to education, wives who’ve left a familiar culture behind. The non-profit, Mumbai Mobile Creches, has been offering daycare, healthcare and education for the children since 1972. This year, the non-profit decided to reach out to the wives and mothers as well.

Their free e-book, Food Memories Of Migrant Women, records their foods and cooking traditions. Eight recipes, each from a woman from a different part of the country, are documented alongside the women’s memories of preparing and enjoying them back home.

The compilation is diverse – snacks, sweets, festive foods and traditional recipes with treasured tweaks – and shows a side of India’s diversity that middle-class recipe books and publications don’t.

“Since Mumbai Mobile Creches caters to the nutritional needs of each migrant child, we want to delve deeper into the routine dietary habits of each family, and encourage them to bring their traditional recipes to the fore and adapt them if necessary to their changed circumstances,” says the book’s introduction. “We believe that publishing these recipes will not only convey to our readers the culinary intricacies of various regions across India, but also provide a platform for the migrant women to share their incredible stories.”

What foods would you miss if you moved away?

Find other recipes on the Mumbai Mobile Creches Facebook page.


Vidarbha, Maharashtra


•3 medium sized colocasia leaves

•6 sprigs of coriander leaves

•6 spinach leaves

•6 sprigs of fenugreek leaves

•10 green chillies

•3 small red onions

•1 small tomato

•Oil for frying

•3 tsp red chilli powder

•2 tsp turmeric powder

•3 tsp cumin powder

•1/3 cup rice flour

•1/2 cup wheat flour

•1/4 cup chickpea flour

•Salt to taste



Roughly chop the colocasia, coriander, spinach and fenugreek leaves along with their stems. Set aside in a bowl.

• Chop the green chillies, onion, tomato and add to the bowl. Add salt to taste.

• Put enough frying oil in a wide pan so that it is a centimetre deep. While it heats up, add all the three flours to the mixture.

• Add the red chilli powder, turmeric powder, and the cumin.

• Mix all the ingredients to make a dough. Only add water if the dough isn’t coming together, but the crushed leaves should give the mixture enough moisture.

• Portion out the dough into 20 small balls and flatten them with your palms so that they are thin and about 4-5 centimetres wide.

• Fry each piece in hot oil till golden brown for about 7-8 minutes. Serve hot.


Basti, Uttar Pradesh


• 1.5 to 2 cups of roasted gramflour

• 2tsp ginger

• 2-3 tsp garlic

• 2 tsp green chillies

• 2 tsp black cumin seeds

• 1 cup chopped onion

• Half a lemon

• 2 cups wheat flour

• 1 cup water

• Oil for deep frying

• Salt to taste



• Put the gramflour in a bowl, then add green chillies, onion, garlic, ginger, black cumin seeds and salt. Squeeze in the juice from the lemon, mix everything well and set aside

• In another bowl, mix the wheat flour, water and salt and knead it into a soft dough.

• Flatten a bit of the dough in your palm and shape it into a cup.

• Fill the cup with a gramflour filling and seal the edges so it is completely encased, then smooth the edges and flatten the stuffed discs.

• In a frying pan, heat enough oil to deep fry and add in the discs so the oil covers them completely. Turn the discs occasionally until they are light brown. Serve hot or cold.


Murshidabad, West Bengal


• 250 grams of split chickpeas

(chana dal)

• 50 grams ghee

• 200 grams sugar

• 1 cup grated coconut

• 1 tsp cardamom powder

• 1/2 cup ground peanuts



• Soaked chickpeas for 2 hours, then boil on medium flame until they are soft enough to mash. Drain, then mash the dal either in a mixer or with the help of mortar and pestle.

• Put the ghee in a pan on a flame and add the mashed chana dal, mixing it continuously for 5-7 minutes.

• Add the grated coconut, peanuts, sugar and cardamom powder to the dal. Cook for another 10 minutes on low flame till the mixture becomes sticky. It is essential to keep stirring the mix or else it might stick to the bottom.

• Spread a small spoonful of ghee over a plate. Place the chana dal mixture on top of it and flatten it into a circle with your hand until the disc is about 1.5 cm thick. Garnish it with grated coconut.

• Let the halwa sit for 5-10 minutes, then cut into even pieces before serving.

First Published: Aug 18, 2018 00:45 IST