Irani Cafes of Mumbai

Irani Cafés are the old world charm of Mumbai. They are in Mumbai for more than hundred years, perhaps even our Grandpa’s weren’t born then. The Irani’s who migrated from Persia brought in their unique food culture to India and soon became ubiquitous in Mumbai due to the Irani Chai and brun maska. The USP of Iranian Cafés is the honest price.

Irani Cafés typically serve ‘brun maska’ (bread and butter) and ‘paani kam chai’ (a strong Iranian tea), or khari chai (very strong tea), mutton samosas, and Kheema Pav, Akuri (a scrambled spicy egg preparation), berry pulao, vegetable puff, vegetarian/chicken Dhansak (a spicy broth with lentils, pulses) and Biryani, cherry cream custard, cheese khari biscuits, plain khari biscuits, coconut jam and milk biscuits and Dukes Raspberry drink. The Parsi Bhonu (meal) is available at most Irani restaurants. Many Irani cafes offer sweet and salted biscuits like Rawa (semolina), Til Rawa Coconut, Nankhatai (sweet, crisp flaky Irani biscuits), Tutti-frutti biscuits. (Source – Wikipedia)

“The Victorian ambience of these Cafés is basic with a subtle colonial touch, high ceilings, round wooden tables with chequered table cloth and four wooden chairs, glass jars (called ‘barni’, a slang in Mumbai parlance) that allow a sneak peek into the sweetmeats inside, white bone china cutlery and huge glass mirrors on the walls to create a feeling of space.”

There were many Irani Cafés in Mumbai till the 80’s, however the numbers gradually depleted and today only a handful of them are operational … with the century old B. Merwan & Co. about to shut shop on 31st March this year, the Irani Cafés of Mumbai are on the brink of extinction.

Dining at a Irani Café can be a nostalgic experience for many. Here’s a list of popular Irani Cafés frequented by young and old generation of Mumbaikars.

Café Address Must Try Timings
Kayani & Co. 657, Jer Mahal Estate, Opp. Metro Cinema, Dhobi   Talao, Mumbai Brun   Maska and Chai, Kheema Pao, Caramel Custard, Akuri 6:30 AM to 9:00 PM
Sassanian Boulangerie 98, Anandilal Podar Marg, New Marine Lines, Mumbai Mawa Cake, Chicken Puff, Akuri 7:00 AM to 11:00 PM
B. Merwan & Co. Ali Bhai Premji Road, Opp. Grant Road Station, Grant   Road East, Mumbai Mawa Cake, Pudding, Caramel Custard, Omelette Pao 5:30 AM to 7:00 PM
Café Britannia Wakefield House, 11 Sprott Road, 16, Ballard Estate, Fort, Mumbai Berry Pulao, Dhansak, Caramel Custard, Mutton Cutlets 11:30 AM to 3:30 PM, Sunday Closed
Koolar & Co. 541, Noor Mahal, Kings Circle, Matunga East, Mumbai Akuri, Kheema Pao, Brun Maska and Irani Chai 6:00 AM to 11:30 PM
Café Military Behind BSE, Opp. HSBC Bank, Fort, Mumbai Kheema Pao, Bheja Masala, Caramel Custard 8:00 AM to 9:00 PM, Sunday Closed
Yazdani Bakery (Veg. only) Cawasji Patel Street, Fort, Mumbai Apple Pie, Brun Maska and Chai, Khari Biscuits 5:00 AM to 11:00 PM

Visit one before they become a lost heritage.

Categories: Travel and Living | Tags: , , | 8 Comments

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8 thoughts on “Irani Cafes of Mumbai

  1. Kiran

    Very informative. Thanks for sharing. Pune has also got few very old Irani Cafes.

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    • Very true Kiran … Vohuman Café near Jehangir Hospital on Sasoon Road (near Pune Railway Station) is an amazing place for authentic Brun Mhaska and Irani Chai. Kayani’s bakery in the camp area is popular for their Shrewsberry biscuits and mawa cake. Both these places are value for money.

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      • mary nation

        Have just seen your article on iranian cafes. My ancestors ran one as I know they used to send a cake to us in England every Christmas between the World Wars. I am trying to track the family of Kaikhosro Edalje Ghamat (who was a lawyer)- do you know of any link to these cafes as I don’t know which one his relations ran.

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      • Hello Mary. Thanks for reading the post on Irani Cafes of Mumbai. I am giving you some references which might help you track down your relatives. You may check jamejamshedonline.com for pointers or write to them at jameonline@hotmail.com You may also contact Bombay Parsi Panchayat at yazdi@on-lyne.com or delzinchoksey@gmail.com or pdubash1@gmail.com I hope that you would get some leads to track further. Good Luck!

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  2. Sad that the owner of Merwan has declared Mar 31 as the last day to remain open for business. Be sure to savour their stufff every day before D-day..

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  3. Sagar Joshi

    Good One Rajesh. Keep posting.

    Like

  4. Sandeep S

    Thank u so much Rajesh …in my childhood i was stayed street of colaba .since that time i was enjoying that Burn Maskaa & Paani Kam . as a daily feeding of day .So thanks for remind my those golden memories …

    Like

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