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Home » National » BMC’s first ‘Sea Food Plaza’ is a raging hit with Mumbai; more in pipeline

BMC’s first ‘Sea Food Plaza’ is a raging hit with Mumbai; more in pipeline

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Mumbai, Feb 18

In November 2023, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) hesitatingly opened a weekend ‘Sea Food Plaza’ at the little-frequented Mahim Beach and seafront, with around a dozen eye-catching stalls and awaited customers.

The stalls were run by 14 women’s Self Help Groups (SHGs), each having average 10 women members, under the BMC’s Mahila Bal Kalyan Yojana.

The SHG volunteers, all hailing from the local Koli community — the fisherfolks and the original inhabitants of Mumbai from the 12th century — clad in their traditional attire with a lot of gold jewellery, welcome the early skeptics.

Then came the casual walk-in diners, followed by the foodies, and as the reputation grew to spread, ravenous people go there in droves — on all Wednesdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays — in the evenings, savouring the Koli-style cuisine against the backdrop of the sun setting behind the Bandra-Worli Sea Link on the Arabian Sea horizon.

“In just three months, we have clocked more than 30,000 footfalls here… From the weekends, we added an extra day (Wednesday), and now there are demands from some quarters to make it a daily affair,” BMC’s Community Development Officer, Advocate Vedika Patil told IANS.

The BMC assisted each SHG kickstart with a revolving fund of around Rs 25,000 and soft-loans of upto Rs 5-10 lakh at seven per cent interest rates, set up the small tents, the open kitchenettes, chairs, tables, electricity and all other requirements to launch the first designated ‘Sea Food Plaza’.

Advocate Patil said that the SHG members earn from the business and divide the profits among themselves, with the BMC’s strict directive to adhere to quality and hygiene.

There are at least five tables, 20 chairs, lighting arrangements, bins to collect dry-wet waste, aprons, gloves, header caps, etc. to serve the customers, and each of the registered SHG’s information is provided on individual hoardings erected at their respective stalls.

“The BMC has directed all the SHGs that there should be no compromise on food quality and cleanliness if they want to succeed…” smiled Advocate Patil, saying the women whip up a large variety of Koli style sea-food preparations, dry, gravy, fried, grilled, with or without accompaniments, plus take-away parcels.

The BMC’s Director (Planning), Prachi Jambhekar, said that besides promoting the tourism initiatives in Mahim and the neighbourhood, “it has also provided gainful employment to the local women virtually at their doorsteps”.

The BMC Commissioner I.S. Chahal and his team, including Ashwini Joshi, Ajitkumar B. Ambi, plus Jambhekar and Patil counseled the women on the significance of SHGs, the concept of entrepreneurship, imparted training on marketable fish and fish-based products, aquaculture, running the stalls, etc.

The fishermen husbands of the SHG members or other male members bring the “day’s catch” from the Arabian Sea just outside their homes in the mornings, the womenfolk sort and get them cleaned, marinated and all-ready for the ‘night catch’ by the droves heading for the Sea Food Plaza.

On the mouthwatering menus are: Fish or prawns Koliwada, Gaboli, Stuffed Pomfret, Tisrya Masala, Teekhat Moongdal, Bombay Duck fry, Prawn masala, rice or rice-bhakris, sol-kadhi, among a lot more, delighting die-hard sea-foodies like Sham Yenpure and Dwarkanath Nagvekar.

As the Sea Food Plaza catches the taste-buds of the physical visitors and the eyes of people at longer distances, it has now tied up with an online food delivery app (ZOMATO), which ferries all orders across Mumbai to the drooling customers.

BMC officials said that that with the ‘pilot project’ off to a flying start, the civic body would consider exploiting other sea-side locations or beaches like Girgaum Chowpatty, Worli, Dadar, Juhu, Versova, Marve, Gorai, etc, which are frequented by thousands of people comprising locals, domestic visitors and international tourists.

Incidentally, Juhu Beach is already famed for its ‘chowpatty’ with an array of chaats, bhelpuris and other fast-food stalls that swarm with customers, and a Sea Food Plaza in the vicinity could give a stiff competition to the established eateries/hotels in the region.

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