The Bombay Bawas play a very important role in giving the city character. They give Mumbai it’s required dose of eccentricity, and I mean this in the nicest possible way. The community is known for their over-the-top personalities, which of course finds expression in their food! They own some of the best colonial real estate in the city and run some very charming restaurants in these spaces.
This exploration will be limited to Parsi restaurants. For now we will leave out Irani Cafes, which are often confused with the former. They require a separate extensive study. Though both the communities historically come from the same area, there are distinct differences in the two cuisines.
My list must begin with Britannia, because a visit to the place is a lovely insight into the mad Bawa world. On my first visit I was greeted by a rooster at the cash counter, and a very bossy owner who treated waiting customers like truant children. The 80+ owner refused to sell me a Raspberry soda, because I wasn’t Parsi. All in jest though. Their food is good. The Berry Pulao seems to bring in the crowds. The Dhansak is good, as is the biryani, but I do get left wanting a more generous serving of the meat. The caramel custard is stellar!
Jimmy Boy near Horniman Circle in Fort, is another old favourite. People swear by the Lagan no bhonu, pretty filling meal where one gets to sample many of the Parsi staples like Chicken Farcha, Patra nu macchi, Chicken or Mutton Pulao, among many other dishes, including a desert. It’s quite a big meal, so build up an appetite before you go! They have a Vegetarian Lagan nu Bhonu, but sorry to break this to you, vegetarians (though I don’t question your preferences), this cuisine is just not for you.
The Parsi community loves egg as much as the Bengalis love mustard. It goes with everything and in everything. So unless you at least eat egg, even the vegetable preparations might be out of bounds for you.
Ideal Corner, also in Fort serves this cuisine. Like the two mentioned earlier it too serves the staples, and provides a typically Parsi ambience. The service here has a reputation for being jovial and friendly, which is always a plus.
Unfortunately most Parsi restaurants are concentrated in South Bombay. But in recent times, some Parsi hospitality has made its way to Bandra. For instance, Snack Shack, a small little canteen-like eatery at Pali Naka serves some very affordable Mutton Salli, Chicken Farcha, Pulao and chops. They make a mean dhansak on Sundays, which many take home for a decadent lunch.
Jumjoji is the most recent Parsi diner that has opened at Bandra Reclamation. It offers a refined dining experience, and is definitely more modern than the other South Bombay counterparts. They serve old home recipes from specific Parsi families, which would be hard to find elsewhere. Their Akuri, Patra ni Macchi and Mutton Biryani was spoken of highly in an online Parsi magazine. Now that’s a trust-worthy source!
I am very fond of the Bawa community. I spent my formative years in a Parsi run school, Maneckji Cooper Education Trust, where Pateti was celebrated with more enthusiasm than Independence Day. And ours was a noisy family run school canteen where Parsi food is served. I believe that’s where you will find the best Dhansak! The Parsis have pioneered entrepreneurship and run some of the best educational institutions in the country. But if you ask me, rich opulent food that’s notoriously unkind to the waistline is their most significant contribution.
Know of other Parsi restaurants serving delectable delicacies, tell us, we would love to know!
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