90 going on 19
A fourth-generation baker of Girgaum's iconic Daryush Bakery, which is a decade short of hitting a century, launches new pizza delivery venture
On his daily route to Campion School as a kid, the sight of his father or kakas manning large crowds at Girgaum's Daryush bakery was a routine for Neil Bastani. "We would sell over 80 different products back in the day, and used to live next door. Each morning, I would see people line up for our pattices on cycles. There would often be fights, as employees of school, college and railway canteens, other bakeries and retail stores would also come early to procure our products and resell them. My kaka, Daryush [also the name of his great great grandfather] would often have to yell at people to stand in a line," Bastani says.
Strategically located close to the many cinema halls of the old Grant Road neighbourhood, Charni Road railway station and an erstwhile diamond market, Daryush has been a landmark in Girgaum for 90 years now. The bakery was started by Bastani's great great grandfather, great grandfather Boman and grand uncle Rustom, all of whom came to India from Iran. Their sons Daryush, Niroomand and Rohinton continued running the bakery over the years. Their khari is a bestseller even today, apart from mawa and plum cakes. These 90 years haven't always been easy, Bastani says. The turning point was the diamond market shifting to BKC. "The shift hit us instantly, such that at one point, we were down to stocking just six different items from 80. I wasn't a part of the business then," he reminisces. Back then, Bastani had just started a pizza delivery chain (Juno's), and two-and-a-half years ago he finally sold his stake in the chain to his partner. It was his brother who suggested that Bastani join the business given his experience in the hospitality industry. Once he did that, Bastani worked hard to increase their product roster again, the first being a rejig of the classic mawa cake. "Everyone in this city had sadly moved on to cupcakes from mawa cakes. That's why I started making fusion mawa cakes such as caramel, chocolate and almond, which I now supply to different eateries," he says.
Bastani also runs confectionary kitchen Parisserie with his sister-in-law out of Daryush, a dessert brand that caters to several city restaurants. Another family property continues to be a different kind of landmark, Daryush Restaurant and Bar. "Like the old clubs of Bombay, our bar continues to be the neighborhood melting pot, almost like a local club. We get grandfathers, fathers and children as customers," he says proudly.
With Bastani's efforts and support from his family, Daryush managed to hit 90 last year. But he was aching to do more. This wish materialised when childhood friend Ranbir Batra happened to visit the bakery one day. Batra, too, comes from a family that has been part the hospitality industry for many years now, having owned New Yorker at Chowpatty.
The Bastanis started the bakery in 1929
That's how they decided to launch Diablo, a pizza delivery service, considering their mutual love for pizzas. "We both knew we had to put a creative product together, something that would stand out in a crowded marketplace. And with our backgrounds, we felt that now is a good time to go ahead," says Batra, who has also set up restaurants like Villa 39, Ellipsis and Crafters.
Daryush has been a landmark in Girgaum for 90 years
Diablo will service Colaba to Lower Parel and has vegan and gluten-free bases, too. "We use a combination of different cheese varieties from local dairies to get the perfect texture, saltiness, stringiness and chewiness. We will soon have a variety of vegan cheese options too. We import our pork products to get a good quality, though," Batra shares. Some of their signatures are Mediterranean chicken pizza (R300 for 7 inches) and tandoori chicken in yellow tandoori masala (R290 for 7 inches). To make any dish spicier, ask for the Diablo fire special hot sauce. Why Diablo, which means 'devil', we ask the duo. "It comes from being diabolical; our pizzas can be both naughty and nice. We wanted to serve all that we wanted to without worrying," Bastani sums up.
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