Navroze Special: Parsi restauranteurs pick a star dish from another Bawa eatery

Mar 19, 2016, 12:30 IST | Krutika Behrawala and Dhara Vora

Because the Parsis like to keep it all within the community, mid-day gets their culinary stalwarts and bright sparks to pick a star dish at another bawa eatery they'd bet their money on

Kainaz Messman Harchandrai at Theobroma’s outpost in Colaba. Pic/Pradeep Dhivar
Kainaz Messman Harchandrai at Theobroma’s outpost in Colaba. Pic/Pradeep Dhivar

Kainaz Messman Harchandrai of Theobroma
Chicken Chilly (Paradise Style), Dhansak
At Paradise, Sindh Chambers, SB Singh Road, Colaba.
Call: 66352714
Cost: Rs 300 (Chicken Chilly Paradise Style), Rs 300 (Dhansak, on particular days)

Chilly Chicken Paradise Style
Chilly Chicken Paradise Style

In an ideal world, we would eat Theobroma’s brownies for breakfast, lunch and dinner. However, our utopian foodie idea remains a dream. But what are Kainaz Messman Harchandrai’s bawa favourites, we ask the woman behind the successful cafe and dessert chain. “I love specialities like Topli Paneer made by a home chef in Cusrow Baug, or Dhansak at the Baug’s canteen. And yes, the Dhansak at Paradise. I need to only hop across the road. I also love their Chicken Chilly (Paradise Style), which unlike other restaurants, is white with soup-like consistency derived from semolina,” she says. If you want to pick up something from Theobroma, try the Navroze Cake made from dark chocolate and salted caramel with hazelnut praline centre. Paradise is run by husband-wife duo Jimmy and Mehru Kadkhodai. When we spoke with Jimmy over the phone to fix the photo shoot, his Bawa humour amused us, “If I am not around, ask for my boss... I mean my wife.”

Dhansak with rice. Pic/Atul Kamble

At: Theobroma: Colaba (33716011), Chowpatty, Bandra, Fort, Peddar Road, Breach Candy, BKC, Powai, Lokhandwala and Goregaon (opens at T2 next week).

Boman Kohinoor of Britannia & Co
Mawa cakes
At: Sassanian Boulangerie, 98, Marine View, Anandilal Podar Marg, near Metro cinema, Marine Lines. CAll 22006198
Cost: Rs 18 per piece

Boman Kohinoor of Britannia & Co. Pics/Bipin Kokate
Boman Kohinoor of Britannia & Co. Pics/Bipin Kokate

Though he’s in the middle of his breakfast (a bowl of fruit), 93-year-old Boman Kohinoor springs up from his chair to greet us at his 1923-established eatery where walls are adorned with wooden clocks, country flags and a blackboard stating, ‘Don’t argue with the management’. So, we take his word for it when he refrains from recommending a dish at another Parsi eatery, saying, “I have never come across anything different or special.” And that may well be true considering that even today, a tourist’s visit to the city remains incomplete without sampling Britannia’s signature Berry Pulao (now available in prawn and paneer varieties too). “Some think they are cranberries but they’re barberries, grown only in Iran and Afghanistan. We import ours from Iran, which are believed to be of slightly superior quality,” smiles Kohinoor, as he readies his notepad and pen to take an order from a Londoner who has dropped in for a meal. When we probe him on his favourite confections, he instantly replies, “Sassanian makes good mawa cakes; that is what a mawa cake should taste like.”

Mawa Cakes from Sassanian
Mawa Cakes from Sassanian

At: Britannia & Co, 11 Sprott Road, opposite New Custom House, Ballard estate.
Timings: 12 noon to 4 pm (Sunday closed)
Call: 22615264

Behram Khosravi of Cafe Military
At: B. Merwan and Co., opposite Grant Road Station (e).
Call: 23093321

Behram Khosravi insists on cutting the bread at Fort’s Cafe Military every day, and layering it with loads of butter. This task is almost meditational for the 78-year-old. Khosravi has been running the cafe, opened by his father Khodaram B Golavi (Golavi changed the surname of his kids to Khosravi) since 1952. Another place Golavi also owned was New Alice Restaurant at Grant Road, which Khosravi tells us was popular since commuters would pour out of trains, buy khari and board back.

Most Irani cafes had multiple partners and the festival of Navroze was celebrated together. “We would wake up, take a bath, wish our elders and visit the fire temple. Then, all the partners would have a meeting. The first partner would go to the second home where there would be almonds, cashews and dryfruits on offer. They would both go to the third partner’s home. Here, there would be a huge feast featuring whiskey, rum, the works. And, we would all drink merrily. Once, I even knocked my vehicle! Maari bayri booma boom karse ai vaanchine (My wife will shout at me after reading this),” Khosravi reminisces. When we prod him to pick a favourite at another bawa eatery, after much thought, he shares, “We sell every dish that other restaurants have. But the cakes at B. Merwan are superb.” As for Cafe Military, for Navroze, they will offer Military Special Mutton Pulav Dal and Chicken Pulav Dal, Jardaloo Sali Boti, Atheli Murghi Masala Potato and Mawa Custard.

At: Cafe Military, Tamarind Lane, Fort.
Time: 8.30 am to 9.30 pm
Call: 22654181

Tirandaz Irani of Yazdani Bakery

Caramel Custard
At: Jimmy Boy, Fort.
Cost: 70

Caramel Custard of Jimmy Boy
Caramel Custard of Jimmy Boy

The aroma of freshly baked bread wafting from the legendary bakery acts as a scent guide to a spot between two shops at Cawasji Patel Street. One of the last surviving bakeries (established in 1955), it stocks an old-style blue coloured bread cutting machine, besides the signature shrewsbury biscuits, carrot and plum cakes, sponge cake and the popular twisted khari biscuits; all great accompaniments with the Irani chai. While there is no dearth of confections here, the 43-year-old second generation owner satiates his dessert cravings by indulging the wobbly custard at nearby Jimmy Boy.

At: Yazdani Bakery, Cawasji Patel Street, Fort.
Time: 7 am to 7 pm
Call: 22870739

Parvez Patel of Ideal Corner

Mutton Berry Pulao
At: SodaBottleOpenerWala, BKC.
Cost: 495 plus taxes

Mutton Berry Pulao

Sitting pretty at a bend on a bustling Fort street, the eatery has expanded its menu to include burgers and continental fare, besides their signature Mutton Dhansak and kebabs, Salli Chicken and Patra Ni Machi. In sync with modern times, they deliver via Scootsy and Zomato. Little surprise then that the restaurant’s partner, the salt-and-pepper haired Parvez Patel has taken a fancy to a contemporary version of berry pulao served
at AD Singh’s Bandra outlet. Affable and forthright, Patel says, “I have tried the dish at SodaBottleOpenerWala more than once and love their version. It’s tastier.” On the other hand, at Ideal, the Navroze menu features Kesar Mutton Pulav Dal, Badami Chicken, Mewa Mawa Custard and Falooda.

At Ideal Corner, Hornby View, Gunbow Street, Fort. TIMe 12 noon to 3.30 pm, 5.30 pm to 10.45 pm (Monday closed)
Call: 22621930

Chef Darius Madon of SodaBottleOpenerWala

Cutlet Gravy
At: Cafe excelsior, 23, AK Nayak Marg, opposite New excelsior, Fort.
Call: 22074543
Cost: 280

Mutton Cutlet Gravy
Mutton Cutlet Gravy

A haute launch last year, the restaurant and bar is an ode to the fast-fading legacy of Irani cafes. The theme resonates in the eccentric decor (read: a blackboard of bawa resolutions and checkered tablecloths with wooden chairs) and a menu featuring bestsellers like eggs Kejriwal, Sali Mutton and Bheeda Par eeda. When he’s not busy adding contemporary tweaks to the Parsi creations, Mumbai-born gennext Parsi chef Madon indulges in cutlet-gravy at Cafe excelsior. “Though it’s simple, it packs flavour. The two mutton cutlets are fried to a point where they get frilly, thanks to the addition of an egg coating doused in liberal spicy gravy. This can also be made with chicken cutlets, but I love the mutton version. It keeps drawing me back to the cafe,” he says.

At: SodaBottleOpenerWala, ground floor, The Capital Building, G Block, Bandra Kurla Complex, Bandra (e).
Time: 12 noon to 1 am
Call: 40035678

Perzen Patel of Bawi Bride Kitchen

Patra ni Machchi and Kid Gosht
At: Jimmy Boy, Fort.
Cost: 630 (Patra ni Machchi), 325 (Kid Gosht)

A home chef and food blogger, Perzen Patel of Bawi Bride Kitchen, who resides at Dadar Five Gardens, cooks everything from dips to Parsi Bhonu. She will be offering a special Navroze menu (on March 19, 20 and 21) which includes Kheema Pattice, Badam Malai Chicken Pulao, Masala ni Dar, Kid Gosht with Roti, Patra ma Prawns and Lagan nu Custard. “I feel the best food you would get is in someone’s home. It’s what we would do for Navroze. But two of my favourite dishes at restaurants are Patra ni Machchi and Kid Gosht at Jimmy Boy. Patra ni Machchi is usually served at weddings and it’s a luxury to have it at home. So, eating it at Jimmy Boy, outside of weddings, is fun,” says Patel.

Patra ni Machchi (pomfret steamed and served inside colocasia leaves) and Kid Gosht by Jimmy Boy. Pics/Bipin Kokate
Patra ni Machchi (pomfret steamed and served inside colocasia leaves) and Kid Gosht by Jimmy Boy. Pics/Bipin Kokate

Call: 9819285720
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Sherzad Irani of Jimmy Boy

Mawa cakes and bun maska-chai
At B. Merwan, opposite Grant Road (e); Kyani & Co, opposite Metro Cinema, Marine Lines.
Call: 30150864 (Kyani & Co)
Cost: 10 per piece (mawa cake), `30 (bun maska-chai)

Bun maska-chai at Kyani & Co.
Bun maska-chai at Kyani & Co.

While the restaurant is famous for its Lagan Nu Bhonu (a three-course quintessential Parsi wedding meal) served throughout the year, it’s not surprising to find office goers also relishing jumbo sandwiches or tandoori fare at the cutesy diner with a revamped, inviting red-and-yellow name board. A family business of the Irani family since 1925, the restaurant is currently taken care of by Aspi Irani’s 35-year-old nephew, who recommends B. Merwan’s mawa cakes and Kyani & Co’s bun maska-chai. “As kids, we would go to B. Merwan, to eat their mawa cakes. even today, I don’t mind dropping in at Kyani for bun maska and chai, though I eat Parsi food only at my restaurant,” he admits.

At: Jimmy Boy, Vikas Building, 11 Bank Street, Opposite Chetah Gate, Old Custom House lane, near Horniman Circle, Fort.
Time: 11 am to 11 pm
Call: 22700880

Meheraban Kola of Sassanian Boulangerie

Saas ni Machchi by Tanaz Godiwalla
Call: 23736136

Saas ni Machchi by Tanaz Godiwalla
Saas ni Machchi by Tanaz Godiwalla

Dhobi Talao’s Sassanian Boulangerie is particularly busy at noon, packed with collegians from St Xavier’s, officegoers, shoppers, overseen by a Parsi gentleman at the helm of affairs, seated at the counter wearing a red velvet topi. Unlike most Irani cafes, owner Meheraban Kola has added crowd-pleasing options to the menu such as noodles, burgers and sizzlers (popular among students). Parsi favourites Dhansak are the obvious mentions. Owing to the large Roman Catholic population in the locality, Kola also stocks seasonal favourites such as Christmas cakes. For easter next week, the hot cross buns. For Navroze, Kola will prepare a special Kashmiri Pulao with dal, and all-time favourites Salli Chicken and Roast Chicken. But picking a favourite from another eatery is difficult for the owner of the 103-year-old cafe. “I don’t eat at other restaurants and most places serve food similar to ours. But one dish I would recommend is wedding caterer Tanaz Godiwalla’s Saas ni Machchi. I have tasted it at so many weddings, and it is my favourite,” says Kola. The tangy, spicy white gravy dish is usually made with pomfret and is a hot favourite at Parsi feasts. Godiwalla doesn’t take individual orders and prepares it as part of large feasts. But if you happen to live in a baug where she is catering for an event, she will take personal orders too.

At Sassanian Boulangerie, near Metro cinema, Marine Lines.
Time: 6.30 am to 10 pm
Call: 22006198

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