One of the oldest beverages, “Chai,” has now become one of the necessities of Indians; we can imagine our day without the meal but dare not to skip Chai. No one can imagine how much an Indian loves Chai; well, in a year, we Indians consume around 837,000 tonnes of Tea (Easily….!)
Bun Maska and Chai are some of the favorite combinations of the Mumbaikars. Inseparable Combo – Bun Maska and Chai kicked off with the magic of Iran cafes that mushroomed in the Mumbai city around the late 1800s have become an essential part of every Mumbaikar! If you live in Mumbai or have ever been to Mumbai, there’s no way you could have skipped this Duet.
In Iran, they don’t add milk to the tea, and it is a tradition that began here in India by Iranians. These meetings grew into the founding we now know as Irani cafes. Earlier, Iranian cafes only served Bun Maska and Chai, later with the time slowly they started to add their traditional foods in their menu such as Keema pav, Chicken & Egg dishes, Sponge cake, Rum cake, Pulao, etc.,
Now, let’s move ahead and read about some of the oldest and best Iranian Cafes in Mumbai. And soon plan to visit one of the Parsi restaurants in Mumbai to get the breeze of good old vintage days.
1) B Merwan and co.
Merwan, the first stop for all office goers, serves the standard price of Bun-Maska and chai but its Mawa cakes are to die for (excessive to say they are over in the first few hours of the bakery’s opening). Like all other Irani cafes, B Merwan earnestly declines to change its interiors. Possibly because of its location B Merwan never really had a shortage of clients. But it takes a lot more than that to keep a traditional bakery running. It is hard work, and the owners are pushing 70. The next generation comfortably dwelled overseas; the men behind the till would only be happy to hang their boots. Only when they did decide to shut shop, the city lose its collective cool. Being the best and oldest Irani Hotel in Mumbai and on public demand, B Merwan and Co opened again. B Merwan also has a little-known Bollywood connection. Its owners are siblings of the actresses Honey and Daisy Irani, which makes them uncles of Farah Khan and Sajid Khan!
Where: Ali Bhai Remji Road, Opposite Station, Grant Road (East), Mumbai
Must-Try: Mawa cakes
2) Sassanian Boulangerie
A shouting distance from Mumbai’s Marine Lines station, Sassanian Boulangerie, a 107 years old cafe stands as a dignified remembrance of the times spent. The Irani cafe, started by Rustam Kaikushru Yezdabadi, who migrated from Yezd, Iran, to India, had modest beginnings. Before expanding into a departmental store, it began by selling primary stuff such as tea, biscuits, sponge cakes, etc. Today it is a multi-cuisine restaurant serving all sorts of meals such as Chinese, Parsi, and Sizzlers. Like most Irani cafes, Sassanian Boulangerie is a corner property that faces two streets. Today, Sassanian Boulangerie is the only Iranian restaurant in the South Mumbai area.
Where: 98, Marine View, Dhobi Talao, Marine Lines, Mumbai
Must-Try: Dhansak, Salli Chicken, Roasted Chicken, Mawa, and Plum Cakes along with Chicken Puffs
3) Kyani Bakery and Co
The oldest surviving Irani bakery in Mumbai, Kyani Bakery and Co from Marine Line, is as renowned for its wine cake and bakery as it is for its high roof, ultimate chairs, and an owner who will permit you to take photographs of his idea. Kyani has easily been in the industry for about 112 years and is being served by the second generation of Shokriyes. Aflatoon Shokriye arrived in India in 1948 when he was 18 and started the business ground up. If the Shokriyes were accepted, Raj Kapoor would frequently visit Kyani to eat its signature mawa cakes and bun maskas. The showman may have passed away into the ages, but the cafe continues to stand, a solemn reminder of a time when life was a lot slower and also perhaps simpler. Serving the authentic taste of Iran, it is considered the best cafe in South Mumbai.
Where: Opposite Metro Cinema, Marine Lines, Mumbai
Must-Try: Bun Maska, Sali Boti, Akuri, Kheema Pav, and the legendary Mawa Cake
4) Jimmy Boy
Most Parsis will acknowledge that the best Parsi meals in Mumbai are cooked in people’s homes. Some restaurants, however, do come close. Jimmy Boy and Britannia and Co are two such names that would come to memory without compressing one’s facial muscles and looking skywards while tormenting one’s brain. Jimmy Boy is the better sustained of the two and serves the standard Parsi fare of salli par eedu, chicken/mutton dhansak, and chicken farcha, among other dishes. The best thing to order at Jimmy Boy is the Lagan nu Bhonu or the Wedding Thali that will truly showcase the best of Parsis’s menu. Throw in some old-world chandeliers and furniture, and Jimmy Boy will transport you right back in time! A lesser-known fact about Jimmy Boy is that it started as Cafe India in the 20s. It received its current name only in 1999!
Where: Vikas Building, 11 Bank Street, Fort, Mumbai
Must-Try: From Mutton Samosa to Keema Pav, and famous Raspberry Soda
5) Britannia and Co
Don’t let the rundown look of Britannia and Co put you off. The restaurant that was first provided to the British officers stationed in the neighborhood serves meals to starving patrons. As with all Irani restaurants, little has changed at Britannia in Mumbai. The chairs imported from Poland when the cafe first opened continue to take the weight of the restaurant’s patrons, and the tall ceilings haven’t seen the end of a broom in what may be years. Even so, Britannia manages to belt out some lip-smacking food items. Its signature dish is the Berry Pulao, made from the fruit that (if the owners are to be believed) is still imported from Iran. Britannia and Co keep irregular hours; they are shut on Sundays and don’t remain open for dinner. The star of Britannia and co is Boman Kohinoor, the octogenarian Anglophile who takes orders to this very day and will not spare an occasion to draw your attention to a portrait of Queen Elizabeth or the cutout of Prince William and Kate Middleton (who he met during their recent trip to Mumbai).
Where: Wakefield House, 16 Ballard Estate, Opp New Custom House, Mumbai
Must-Try: Sali Boti, Berry pulao, Barberry Seasoned Rice.
6) Yazdani Bakery
Named after Yazd, the region in Iran, Yazdani Bakery is wrapped away in an alley in Fort. Pretty like every other place listed here, Yazdani Bakery has modest outsides but makes up for it with the food it serves. Yazdani takes as much pride in the multi-grain bread it bakes as it does in its antiquated interiors that include an obsolescent brass call bell and a large clock. And while it does serve the standard bun maska and chai, Yazdani’s rum cakes (produced during Christmas) and ginger biscuits are to crave!
Where: 11/11A, Cawasji Patel Street, Fort
Must-Try: Brun Maska and Chai, Fresh Cakes.
So, where are you visiting first??
In the comment section below, let us know if we are missing any Parsi bakery in Mumbai.