This new restaurant serves Parsi food near Palghar on the highway

25 May,2024 08:50 AM IST |  Mumbai  |  Nasrin Modak Siddiqi

This new Parsi pitstop near Palghar is worth a drive out of the city

This hearty spread offers a glimpse of the 250 dishes served at the cafe. Pics/Anurag Ahire

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Down the rickety Ahmedabad- Mumbai National Highway No. 8, manoeuvring through heavy trucks and trailers, we drove one Sunday at 6.30 am to the FoodHub at Haloli, near Palghar. We reached in two hours and were welcomed by Chef Shezad Marolia who met us two days before the opening of Cafe Farohar this weekend for an exclusive for Sunday mid-day.

Marolia has been running the original Café Farohar at Udwada with his mother, Hilla, since 2016. He decided to offer Parsi cuisine on the highway to feed a larger audience, especially non-Parsis. "Everyone returning to the city stops at Food Hub to either refuel or take a break - it is the last food court before Mumbai on this highway, and so it made business sense to start here," he says.

Chef Shezad Marolia

This 200-seater outlet looks vibrant with its brightly coloured walls and graffiti of Parsis savouring dishes created by artist Manish Gurunath Parab. We particularly loved the installation on the wall of bawajis on three scooters. The chequered red and white tablecloth, the bell jar pendant lamp and the Asho Farohar on the entrance door lend an old Parsi eatery vibe - making it relevant across generations. Like old-school restaurants, there is an AC and non-AC section, and Marolia has acquired a bar licence, too.

The real hero here is the food. Marolia brings years of experience in professional kitchens, paired with the homely touch of his mother's kitchen. Fresh ingredients are sourced daily, with Marolia shuttling between Mumbai and Udwada. Whole spices are bought and ground in-house, and the chef is highly particular about marination time. "My mum was a home chef, so my love for food stems from my childhood - I'd help her do the little things," he recalls. Marolia wants people to explore Parsi dishes beyond patras and pulaos available at popular Parsi eateries.


The menu, we are told, would comprise 250 dishes from their original menu at Udwada. We tried the fried vengna ni katri (Rs 220), which was mildly spiced but perfectly cooked and was creamy, even without the cheese on top. We skipped the farcha (Rs 200) and salli marghi (Rs 355) and went straight to atheli marghi (Rs 330), one of the best we have had with the right balance of flavour and spices. The chicken was well coated with masalas and went perfectly with rotlis.

Kid gosht (Rs 440) was next. It is made with baby sheep or goat meat, and was tender and cooked in a cashew curry paste. What we noticed was that unlike the other versions we have had before, this one wasn't too sweet. "That's because we use a combination of magaz (seeds kernals) and cashews, so the sweetness is reduced, and you get to appreciate the creamy textures of the gravy," explains Marolia.

Vengna nu katri and Bhatia gosht

The bhaji dana ma gosht (Rs 440) reminded us of an Awadhi speciality called shalgam gosht in a dry avatar. The blend of greens (spinach and methi) with meat that falls off the bone had us requesting an extra rotli to savour it. The patra ni macchi (price as per size) and patra ni paneer (R220) here are perfect proof of what good marination can do to a dish. Also, we liked that, like a good Parsi dish, this one had hints of sweetness but was not cloyingly sweet as some places tend to serve.

We couldn't decide if in the mutton pulao dal (Rs 440), we loved the creamy sagan ni mori dal more than the fragrant pulao dal. Again, the meat just fell off the bones. Served with kachumar, we could easily have gone for a second helping if the crisp-fried boi fish (Rs 220) had not been staring at us from the sidelines. We were like a little kid in a candy shop. It was the crispiest, most delicately flavoured boi we have had in recent times. What also had our heart was the bhatia gosht (Rs 440) - meat cooked with potatoes. Marolia tells us bhatia in Gujarati means potli - this is a dish people used to make and carry between travels, especially on hunts.

Did we wash it all down with raspberry soda and a dash of lime - yes. Did we have lagan nu custard (Rs 80), caramel custard (Rs 65), sev (Rs 110) and mitthu dahi (Rs 45) and raspberry jelly (Rs 55) for dessert - well, it would be a crime not to.

In the same food court, Marolia also has Udwada Bakers, that sells old-fashioned baked items such as cookies, palmiers, khari, macaroons, and more. On weekends, the glass shelf is brimming with on-the-go savouries like puffs and patties. Marolia tells us that at Cafe Farohar also has breakfast items such as kheema, akuri, bun maska, and choi. Also doodh na puff, a centuries old sweetened milk drink that is beaten to a froth.
"Next stop for Cafe Farohar, is Mumbai," Marolia signs off.

WHERE: Cafe Farohar, FoodHub, Haloli, Near Palghar, Off Ahmedabad-Mumbai National Highway No. 8.

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