We have all seen it being sold on the streets of Mumbai. Some of us have eaten it, others have made fun of people eating it and quite a few of us have gone, “It’s made from the first milk that a cow gives after giving birth? Ewww, no way, I am going to eat that!”
That’s right, we are talking about cheek. No, not the one you show as a true Gandhian but the one that you buy from the roads and eat on those big leaves. Also known as ‘Mali’ Posu (Konkani), Ginnu(Kannada), Junnu(Telugu), Kharvas(Marathi), cheek, as its called in Hindi is a staple sweet dish for people who roam the streets of Mumbai late at night. And we spoke to one of the best suppliers of cheek in the city.
Ali Khan from Kamathipura, a 28-year old man who supplies cheek from his small stall in Mumbai Central to Churchgate, Wadala, Andheri and all the way to Borivali.
Ali bhai or Mali bhai as he is known in the area sells cheek from Navjeevan Society in Mumbai Central. Regulars say that the mali bought from him is really different from the other mali vendors. Ali has been in this business since he was just 10 years old. He has made his thela so famous that people from far off places come to just get a bite of the delicious sweetmeat.
His father Ismael Khan had started this business in a small shop in Kamathipura.
Ali says that his mali is unique because he makes it completely different from other vendors and on asked what the secret ingredient is he says, “Bhai jeevan mein maine jo bhi banaya bas apne muh par ek muskrahat aur dil mein pyaar rakh kar banaya”
He earns roughly Rs.1000 to Rs. 1500 per day. He sells the mali to other vendors at Rs. 90 a kilo. Cheek is basically colostrum milk. It is made by adding 1 glass of colostrum milk (which is very high in proteins and carbohydrates), 1.5/2 cups of whole milk (pasteurized), sugar / jaggery as per one’s likes.
The next time you are in the vicinity, drop by Ali bhai’s thela. You won’t regret it.