The Parsis are one of Mumbai’s smallest communities, but over the years, their influence on the city has been paramount. From architecture and the economy, to art, culture, healthcare and more, their presence has set Mumbai apart from every other Indian city. However, their most well-known contribution, beyond doubt, has been to the culinary scene.
Where there’s a Parsi, there’s food (in abundance). And with the Parsi New Year, you’re going to search down all the Parsi contacts in your address book hoping to get invited for a Navroze meal. But when the food’s so delectable, do you want to wait for an invitation, really? We sort you out – with a list of Parsi cafes in Mumbai to look out for. Let the Parsi Food trail begin.
Britannia & Co.
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Parsi food in Mumbai is synonymous to Britannia & Co. No article on Parsi food is complete without the mention of this Parsi restaurant in Mumbai. A meal here isn’t just a foodgasm that will leave you in a food heaven for hours once you’re done. It’s also a leaf from history. Boman (not Irani) Kohinoor, the energetic 90-year-young owner cannot get tired from dishing out stories from his youth i.e. how it used to be in the ‘good old days’. He’s also an ardent supporter of the British royal family. You’ll even see a portrait of Queen Elizabeth II on the wall—it’s right below the one of Zarathushtra. And if you enthuse enough about the Windsors with Boman, he’ll even pull out his most prized possession—a letter from Queen Elizabeth II. Britannia & Company often gets requests from travellers to parcel their food to take it abroad. Their Salli chicken, berry pulao and caramel custard are what get their customers back wanting for more.
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Named after Yazd, the region in Iran, Yazdani Bakery is tucked away in a by-lane in Fort. The quaint, old place is easy to miss out because of its rundown architecture. But the crowd that flocks the place keeps it going. The Yazdani Bakery is one of the oldest and best Parsi cafes in Mumbai. If you are hanging out near Flora Fountain, the rich aromas from their freshly baked buns and cakes are sure to reel you in. The cafe has an old-world charm and very friendly staff. It is known for its mouth-watering baked goods. Be sure to try their Apple pie, Mawa cake, Carrot Cake, Bun Maska topped with raisins and the fluffy Muffins.
Kyani & Co.
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The oldest surviving Irani cafe, Kyani Bakery and Co is as famous for its wine cake and confectionery as it is for its high ceilings and quintessential chairs. Kyani has easily been in business for about 112 years and is being run by the second generation of Shokriyes. The father, Aflatoon Shokriye arrived in India in 1948 when he was all of 18 and started the business ground up. If the Shokriyes are to be believed, Raj Kapoor would frequent Kyani to devour its signature mawa cakes and bun maskas. Make sure you order Bun maska and chai, akoori (Parsi-style scrambled eggs) on toast, and kheema pao.
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Another old place that has stood the test of time for over 100 years. Sassanian Boulangerie stands as a solemn reminder of the times gone by. The Irani cafe, started by one Rustam Kaikushru Yezdabadi, who migrated from Yezd, Iran to India, had humble beginnings. It started by selling basic stuff — tea, biscuits, sponge cakes etc. — before expanding into a department store. Today it is a multi-cuisine restaurant of sorts — the board reads Chinese, Parsi and Sizzlers. Today, Sassanian Boulangerie is the only one of the three remaining Irani cafes in the area. In 2013, it completed 100 years! Relish on the Parsi New Year favourite dhansak here, apart from the delectable kheema gotala.
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If Ballard Estate has Britannia & Co., Fort has its own legendary establishment in Café Military – the café runs full every day during lunch time. Be ready to wait for 15-20 minutes for the table. Meanwhile you can look at their menu that serves the scrumptious akuri, Parsi version of scrambled eggs, caramel custard and much more. . Despite keeping its old world charm intact, Café Military has managed to modernize itself a bit over the last 80 years. Don’t forget to order Kheema sali, chicken pulao, and caramel custard.
Merwan & Co.
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For all the office goers near the Grant Road Station, Merwan & Co’s Irani chai and bun muska is a morning staple. The little Irani café’s ambience will take you back to the 1970’s – complete with marble topped tables and small wooden chairs from that era. The floor is caved in at some places, but customers tend to overlook its ambience, because its mawa cake and buttery bun is to die for.
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As much as Leopold Café is famous for its cuppa, it is also etched in history for 26/11 attack. The cafe has a homely and cosy vibe to it with its walls screeching of the spoils of 26/11 terror attack. With bullet holes from the 26/11 punctuating the dusty paintworks of the walls, the cafe is a go-to joint for steaming pots of Parsi chai, a wide array of beer and good food. This good old cafe with all its history and warmth makes it a people’s favourite and always remains jam-packed with swarming crowds. You’ll find their brilliant chello kebab and mutton kebab battling it out to keep its space among the Chinese and Mughlai dishes on their menu.
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With its charming, vintage decor and excellent food, Jimmy Boy is a must visit when you are around the Fort area. The ambience is that of an old-style eatery. It’s a small place with large windows and high ceilings which make you feel like you’re seated out in the open. The Vegetarian Dhansak is something to look forward to here (if you have vegetarians in your group), but don’t miss out on the Mutton Berry Pulao, Chicken Farcha and Saas Ni Machhi that are very popular at this place! Wash down all this delicious food with their raspberry soda; it is a refreshing change from your usual soft drinks. Finish your meal with their beautiful, colourful desserts displayed in glass jars.
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With their yellow and blue tiled décor this place has a cheerful, bright vibe, and is the perfect place to experience authentic Parsi cooking, (and gets you some Instagrammable pictures too!). Ideal Corner Café takes you back home with their freshly made, homemade dishes on their frequently changing menu. This café is somewhat cramped and stuffed amidst a tall building in the busiest lane of Mumbai Fort, but once you find this little café this only adds to the charming experience. The main feature of Ideal Corner Café is the ever-changing menu which offers something fresh and new on the table every day.
Soda Bottle Openerwala
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From the vintage Irani cafes and bakeries, let’s move to the new kid on the block in the map of Parsi food trail. A new chain of restaurants serving Parsi food in Mumbai and a few other metros, Soda Bottle Openerwala serves good authentic Parsi food. The decor is tastefully done. And there’s alcohol on the menu. So if you want to turn the Parsi meal into a real celebration, here is where you could go. Try their Mutton Dhansak and Eggs Kejriwal for sure.
With these 10 must-visit Parsi restaurants in Mumbai, we hope that this helps you enjoy Navroze with a hearty Parsi meal. For more such customised food trails, let this Indian food guide intrigue you!
Cover image courtesy: Parsi Khabar
Written by: Aashima Kadakia
Creative ninja and a true follower of ‘Work, Save, Travel, Repeat’, I love to travel, experience places and bring back stories for a lifetime. Born and brought up in Ahmedabad, I like to visit the same old places, the same cliched tourist spots and destinations, but choose to see the unexplored in the old places. Always inclined towards the mighty mountains in their debate with the beaches!