Discover delightful Bohri cuisine at this experiential lunch concept

Updated: Apr 12, 2015, 14:38 IST | Suprita Mitter |

The Bohri Kitchen is an experiential lunch concept where a maximum of 14 friends (or friends of friends) can be a part of three-course Bohri meal at the home of the Kapadias

“On a Saturday morning, actor Shahrukh Khan gets out of bed. He is hungry and yearns for rich, tasty, non-mainstream food, and he thinks, ‘Let’s book a seat at The Bohri Kitchen (TBK).’ That’s the kind of exclusivity and awareness we want The Bohri Kitchen to have,” reveals Munaf Kapadia, CEO, The Bohri Kitchen. We’re all ears. However, the thought of having to return home, after a Bohri feast isn’t appealing. Let’s rewind to an hour and half ago when we stepped into pop-up kitchen.

A fellow foodie helps carve the Rann
A fellow foodie helps carve the Rann

The instructions
When we signed up for a TBK experience, a WhatsApp group was created where each participant was sent details about the address, parking space and the menu. We were also requested to wear expandable clothing (and to avoid party clothes), as it would restrict eating.

Sancha ice cream (hand-churned ice- cream) made from fresh fruits (pear, mango and strawberry).
Sancha ice cream (hand-churned ice- cream) made from fresh fruits (pear, mango and strawberry). Pics courtesy/ipshita Banerjee

The ambience
We entered into an Art Deco building, near Churchgate station, to reach the spacious apartment of the Kapadias. We were greeted by the easy charm of Munaf Kapadia, the brain behind TBK who is a full-time salesman at a leading Internet company on weekdays, and contributes to TBK on weekends. We walked into a large living room and dining area where we met 14 fellow foodies, who had signed up for the feast. Each wore name stickers to facilitate interaction during our meal.

The wedge of lime gives the samosa a tangy twist

The food
Our welcome drink was coconut water blended with the malai of the coconut – ideal on sultry afternoon. We caught a glimpse of the kind-faced Nafisa Kapadia, while she added last-minute touches and gave instructions to her help, but stopped to smile back when we caught her eye. Before we began our meal, Munaf introduced us to the Bohri tradition of the thaal and the salt. “Typically, a Bohri meal is consumed in a huge thaal, and the family sits around it (on low seating) to eat out of it. You need to mark your little territory on the thaal as it can get messy,” he laughed. However, here we were seated on regular chairs. “There is a little container called the namak daani that has salt. The youngest family member is asked to take it around to the group as each one takes a pinch and tastes it. This helps you to activate salivary glands, making one more sensitive to the flavours they are going to taste,” he reasoned.

My sister, who was the youngest member of the group, performed this ritual. We began with Crumb Fried Chicken, served on a stick. It was crisp and juicy. This was followed by TBK special Kheema Samosas, which was not on the menu but thrown in. “My parents don’t like charging money for food. They keep adding items without telling me,” sighed Munaf. The samosas were delicious and disappeared in seconds. Munaf taught us how to break the samosa, squeeze an entire wedge of lime into it and eat it..

As we tucked in, Munaf suggested that we sample each dish, as they are served one by one on the thaal, but to avoid stuffing ourselves as there was more to come. Each dish was moved from the thaal, and placed on another table after the first helping. As the group tried the next dish, one could return to the other table for seconds. With the tradition of eating a sweet item in between meals, we were served the Dudhi Halwa —it made its debut at TBK; our collective feedback was to keep it on the menu. The superstar was next. The Rann in Red Masala (a gorgeous leg of lamb) generated a buzz. “One of the members offers to carve the Rann. Usually, a male, but anyone can do it,” our host announced. The men in our group began to help with the knife. The second beverage, made from raw mangoes, arrived, perfectly timed.

The Kaju Chicken was next, served with soft homemade rotis. Cooked in a rich cashew paste, it retained a subtle flavour. The Kheema Khichdi with Paaya Soup followed. The khichdi was mild, with rice, lentils, potato and kheema, minus too much masala. It was served in a closed dish with coal in the centre, giving it a smoky flavour. “The key to its flavours, and to most Bohri cooking, is its long marination time and slow-cooking for hours. The paaya has been on the pot since 10 am,” revealed Mrs Kapadia. By then, we were sipping on the Jal Jeera.

The icing on our meal was the Sancha ice cream (hand churned ice cream). Made from fresh fruit (strawberry, mango and pear), it was sourced from Udwada, 200 kms away. “When we began, we served vanilla ice cream with chocolate sauce. People complained that this wasn’t Bohri. So, my mom suggested this brilliant idea. We are still evolving and experimenting,” admits Munaf.

Bohri style Khadi Masala and Sheer Khurma mixes as well as a frozen version of Kheema Samosas from TBK.

Did you know?

>> The Bohris eat a sweet item in between meals. Alternating the course with sweet and salty helps balance the palate and is the traditional way that Bohri food is served.

>> The Rang (usually spelt Rann) has to be marinated for 48 hours.

>> Hakimi Stores in Crawford Market is a draw for Bohri cooking.

How to book?
“We do have a ‘no serial killer’ policy. Unfortunately, since TBK is at our residence we are sticklers. If you have a mutual friend or are the Prime Minister of a country, it helps. My mom is in charge of bookings. Usually, as soon as someone calls, she checks their Facebook profile!” Kapadia confesses.

Mrs Kapadia’s extraordinary culinary skills and Munaf’s hosting skills, which are subtle, entertaining, informative and non-intrusive

Competitive pricing (now Rs 1,500 per head)

Days Saturdays & Sundays
TIime: 12:30 pm Seats Limited, 14 (maximum)
Cost: Rs 1500
To sign up: kitchen RSVP is a must. Drop them a message with your contact details and they will revert.

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