Saturday, December 15, 2012

Of warm bun maska, spicy baida curry and Scotch broth

Of warm bun maska, spicy baida curry and Scotch broth

MUMBAI: The recent reopening of an iconic cafe in South Mumbai had us put the nostalgia broth on the front burner. In a city where fickle tastebuds, combined with an equally fickle hospitality industry, have together ensured the expiration of several old favourites, the broth, as you can imagine, had many takers.

Cartoonist Hemant Morparia finds that places with character are increasingly rare. "Either one has to endure global levels of standardisation with places like Starbucks. Or then you have places where you have to pay an arm and a leg. Both these options are unpalatable. It makes more sense to have friends over for food," he says.

Morparia's list of old Mumbai favourites includes, Cafe Naaz, Malabar Hill and Brabourne Restaurant, Dhobi Talao. He elaborates, "Naaz was a part of the city's topography. It had character and it was accessible. These days you're enclosed everywhere you go, Naaz was open and how. That view from Naaz was unparalleled. Brabourne, owned by film critic Rashid Irani, also made for an interesting visit. You could either hobnob with a local drunkard or talk with films with Irani."

Film-maker Saeed Mirza who currently shuttles between Mumbai and Goa, recalls, "Over the years I've seen a lot of places go away. Even now, I remember Gourdon very fondly; it used be in the vicinity of Gaylord Restaurant. I had many long conversations with Vijay Tendulkar there." Mirza also cites Wayside Inn at Kala Ghoda and Pyrkes at Flora Fountain as old favourites that are no longer around. He adds wistfully, "There's a lot in this city I'd like to see revived."

Actor, writer and director Makrand Deshpande speaks fondly of the unostentatious Cafe Mailoo, a former theatre adda. He says, "It hasn't really shut down but it has changed a great deal. It used to be open to the road and humble. Now they've taken all the charm out of it and put in an air-conditioner instead. It feels so closed; nothing of the old place survives."

While the baida curry at Mailoo was a huge hit, the waiter who took the orders is memorable too. Deshpande remarks, "This straight-faced muchhad guy in long pyjamas would walk around taking our orders. We would go there whenever we through with a rehearsal or a performance. Mailoo remained open till 1.30 pm and was always busy with people from the Gujarati, Hindi and Marathi theatre scene." When asked about the missing English theatrewallas, Deshpande laughs and responds, "Vile Parle (East) was not their scene, yaar."

Mailoo's proximity to Dinanath Mangeshkar Natya Griha and Bhaidas Hall worked in its favour. Discussing the atmosphere Deshpande states, "Theatre professionals and amateurs were there in equal numbers. Bumping into theatre biggies was also not out of the ordinary. Recently someone suggested we go there for old times' sake and I refused because it's just not the same any more."

Riyaaz Amlani, CEO and MD, Impresario Entertainment and Hospitality, which owns Salt Water Cafe and the Mocha chain of coffee shops, wouldn't mind seeing The Wayside Inn and Bastani and Co, Dhobi Talao, get resurrected. He says, "Wayside Inn had so much history; Dr Ambedkar drafted our Constitution there; surely that accounts for something. I also miss bun maska at Bastani."

Incidentally Amlani's Mocha lists bun maska on its menu but it doesn't have the notice board from Bastani. Like all Irani cafes, the notice urged patrons of the legendary eatery to not smoke, not fight, not spit, not talk loudly and the like. The notice board at Bastani caught poet Nissim Ezekiel's attention and he wrote a poem on it. While Bastani was a favourite of Ezekiel, The Wayside Inn is invoked in Arun Kolatkar's Kala Ghoda Poems. Poets have long since stopped dedicating entire poems to Mumbai's cafes and with good reason too. 

A 20-feet high viewing gallery to be built atop Malabar Hill where the much-romanced, much-filmed Naaz open-air restaurant once stood

By Sudhir Suryawanshi
Posted On Thursday, November 15, 2007
Out Standing Out Standing Out Standing Out Standing Out Standing

The much-missed Naaz open-air restaurant atop Malabar Hill, that played host to many a budding love story and afforded an unparalleled view of the Queen's Necklace and Girgaum Chowpatty for several years before it was shut in 2000, is staging a comeback in a new avatar.

In six month's time, 20-feet-high twin viewing galleries will rise where a rather forlorn looking ground-plus-one structure that housed the restaurant famous for its hot samosas and tea now stands. While the view from the restaurant was restricted only to Marine Drive, the sight from the viewing gallery, because of its height, will be 360* and will cover the majestic Hanging Gardens too.

The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation, which has set aside Rs 23.80 lakh for the project, plans to provide binoculars to the visitors at the viewing ramp for a small fee. The 600 sq feet ramp comprising the twin galleries will have glass railings and minimalist seating, making it almost merge with the lush green of Malabar Hill.

“Mumbai lacks an observatory like the one that exists atop the Empire State building in New York. Though the viewing ramp will be only 20-feet high, remember it will stand atop Malabar Hill. The view will be stunning and I think tourists visiting Mumbai deserve it,” said Additional Municipal Commissioner Manu Kumar Srivastava.

The design for the viewing galleries, christened Vantage Point by the BMC, has been approved. A staircase will be built at the footpath in front of the existing structure to take the visitor to the galleries. This will eliminate any interference with the work of BMC's Hydraulic Department that has a facility under the spot where the ramp will be built.

Naaz in its heyday was a favourite with the Bollywood and television industry. Dozens of movies, including Aaashiqui, Sadak, Aatish and Parinda, were shot here.

Would the BMC allow film shoots again at the spot? “This has not been discussed. But I guess with permission from competent authorities that should be possible,” said a BMC official requesting anonymity.

The corporation, however, has no plan to allow any eatery on the ramp. So, those wanting to sip a drink while imbibing the shimmer and glitter of Queen’s Necklace as they did when Naaz was in business, it's going to be a bit of a disappointment.

The structure housing Cafe Naaz, the interiors, and the view from the erstwhile restaurant.

Naaz, in its heyday, was a favourite with Bollywood and the television industry. Dozens of movies, including Aaashiqui, Sadak, Aatish and Parinda, were shot here

BOMBAY TO SONAPUR HAI* 3: Kyani & Co., Dhobi Talao

Kyani is now 103 years old; we are supposed to be the oldest Irani cafe still operating.

My name is Aflatoon Khodadad Shokriye. Khodadad is my fathers name, Shokriye is our family name. Aflatoon Khodadad Shokriye. I came to Bombay from the city of Yazd in Iran in 1948. My father was here, he sent me a visa, student visa to study here. At that time I was 18 years old.

Image: Passenger docks, Karachi Port, ca 1940

The trip was during monsoon, up to Quetta it was OK- we went from Yazd to Kerman, Kerman to Zahedan, Zahedan to Quetta. From Quetta again we came to Karachi, from Karachi we came by steamer to Mumbai. I was along with some three, four people from Yazd. One was aged like my father, and he was our neighbour in Yazd, his son was there and another fellow was there of my age. It was a journey I will never forget. Ever. More tham one week of travelling.

Image: Kyani & Co., Dhobi Talao, 2007

So it was monsoon, and in Bombay it was raining, and raining, so many things which I was not used to! Day and night it was raining. That is why I was repenting! And the food! Indian food it is, what you call, hot food. But in our own restaurants we used to make the Iranian type of food.

When I arrived in Bombay I was repenting why I came - the Britishers had left and even at that time the hygienic conditions were not good. I thought Iran was better. I was new, I did not know language, no friends and all so I did not like it. Slowly, slowly I changed. The local people were friendly, good people. When they knew that I did not know the language, they used to talk more to me, and I picked up the language.

Image: Kyani & Co., Dhobi Talao, ca 1980

My father was here at Kyani, my son is the third generation that are running this restaurant, so this is a kind of family restaurant, established 1904 by my father Khodadad and his brother Khodamorad. Here then it was all Iranis working here. It was an institution, like Iranis, what you call it, it was like a training college!;they used to come and learn business, how to prepare, how to do business, and other things, and they used to go and make partnership with others and start their own business, set up their own Irani café.

In 1948 in Dhobi Talao Parsis were everywhere, Parsis and Christians. But, uh, slowly, slowly Parsis have migrated out of India, many of them died, many of them they did not get married, the population came down.
Image: Kyani & Co., Dhobi Talao, ca 1980

My father told me that the Iranis when they came here, they were working in the Parsi's houses, they were employed and worked in there, and uh, in the morning they used to meet, they would gather and discuss about life and things, so one fellow started preparing tea for the rest, but he used to charge them. So the idea of making tea came to the mind of the Iranis, so they started this tea business and all. By 1948, when I arrived, at every junction almost there was an Irani. They all selected those junctions, those street corners. Because the junctions are one, two, three sides of the road. Anything that was available they used to take.
Falooda - "..a gift from the Iranis to the people of India" says Aflatoon

Today our customers are a cosmopolitan mix - all types of people. Formerly it was mainly Christians and Parsis, the majority. But now, it is cosmopolitan. You cannot stop anybody entering your restaurant. It is a rule of the government, law. In those days you see, the customer was a different type of culture. Tie, coat and all. Hindus of high standard also used to come here. But majority were Parsis and Christians.

In years past Bombay was very safe and we used stop sometimes at 12 o’clock (midnight), but slowly, slowly we have reduced. Because at night people are in a different category in Bombay, they are different. People sometimes make trouble at night. So now we are closing it at 9 o’clock.
I think our regulars appreciate that we have stayed open, offering this type of service- we get people coming who were our customers some ten years back, fifteen years back, they have gone to America, or UK, Canada, then ten years later they come to Kyani, and they are so happy to see us, that we have maintained the same type of restaurant. I tell you, one year I went to America - there was a gathering - all Parsis, Iranis, and as soon as they saw me they said “ohh, Kyani, he has come from Kyani in Bombay”. I couldn’t believe it. Incredible how many people remembered Kyani.

Image: Badam, Butterscotch, Khari, Coconut Jam,Ginger, Cheese Wafers... - Kyani & Co., 2007

Changes? In about 1952 an Irani had a café, and this man used to put kus-kus (poppy) in the tea. And believe it or not, the taxiwallahs who were running the taxi, they used to go there and take their tea always, otherwise they were not happy with their tea. Then one by one, all the cafes started kus-kus tea, we had it here at Kyani, finally the Municipality came to know about it and they stopped it. It is prohibited. The Municipality will take your license and you have to go behind the bar if you tried that now. When Britishers were here, they were foreigners, we Iranis were also foreigners, we got friendly treatment when we went to the government departments; they knew that we were new here, we were also foreigners, so they said “you have to stop putting that in the tea”, and we did.

Image: Kyani & Co, 2007

In the past, people from offices, from Fountain, from Colaba, they used to come to Dhobi Talao, because there were two big shops selling confectionary – Bastani and Kyani - across the road from each other. Now there is only Kyani, so they go wherever they like to buy their requirements. Bastani closing has affected our business, you see. The nature of the business at Bastani was the same as Kyani. When it was there it was better. The movement of the people is now restricted. When Bastani was still there lots of people used to come from outside – they would maybe buy their sweets at one place, and just walk across the road and have their tea at the other.

Image: Bastani, Dhobi Talao, ca 1980

Kyani is now 103 years old, we are supposed to be the oldest Irani café still operating. We had to make my sons Farookh and Farad partners in the business; I am old now, any moment I may leave to go.

FROM an interview with Aflatoon Shokriye, Dhobi Talao, Mumbai, April 2007.
*Bombay to sonapur hai - Bombay is the city of gold.


The death of an eatery

Published: Friday, May 2, 2008, 23:30 IST
By Javed Gaya

Cities are complex entities. They provide shelter for different communities who, over the years, generate their own sub-cultures, shops, markets and restaurants.
This collection of sub-cultures can be termed �villages�. London and New York, to those who know them well, are in truth a collection of villages interacting with each other under the umbrella of an urban government, and Mumbai is no less.
You see this more in South Mumbai than anywhere else. At a particular cross roads is the demarcation between the predominantly Maharashtrian Girgaum and the once predominantly Parsi Princess Street and Dhobi Talao areas.
This area around the Metro Cinema boasts some extraordinary buildings, including the imposing Jer Mahal and around it exist several fire temples, the Parsi Dairy Farm, and a number of Irani restaurants. Kayani�s still goes strong with its Shrewsbury biscuits, chicken patties, cherry custard, and bun maska pao.
Change is inevitable.The Metro has of course been spruced up and there is a Rajdhani snack bar on the ground floor which seems to serve all manner of vegetarian snacks.
Across from Kayani�s, its rival Bastani�s has closed and a few shops from Bastani�s was a gem of a place � the Brabourne Restaurant.This represented the watering hole of the hardcore working class, whether Maharashtrian, Irani, Parsi or Muslim. Precisely because of all of these factors, it was no longer relevant to the area.
(A similar change had happened in London, too - when the docklands became developed, the first things the areas lost were the famous eel and pie shops so characteristic of East End working class culture.) So a slice of working class life which went back to the early part of the 19th century has been lost, and the Irani beer bars will go the way of all the older Irani institutions, such as the bakeries, tea shops, and so on.
Last Saturday night I was at the Brabourne Restaurant � for a wake to celebrate the end of this gem of a restaurant run by the most erudite of restaurateurs, Rashid Irani, film critic and buff extraordinaire who led the most incongruous existence as part-beer bar owner and part-writer.
But it would be a disservice to write off the Brabourne as a mere beer bar; it also served a kind of food which had its own loyal clientele. Chief among the attractions was the iconic omelet sandwich, truly one of the great omelet sandwiches of the city with a leathery exterior and a soft gooey interior, perfectly spiced.
In addition, there was a marvelous kheema pao, the breakfast special, but which could be eaten all day. It had the finest mince, with suitably glutinous gravy so that the pao could be used to mop up the juices, bliss!
All this was had in otherwise depressing surroundings, for it was by then an eatery whose death was foretold and one which the owners did precious little to gentrify. I believe it is going to be replaced by one of those bread shops which intend to produce hundreds of varieties of bread untouched by human hand.
Whether such a miracle of sterility will survive in the rather rambunctious and unhygienic street remains to be seen. But one more institution of old Bombay has disappeared, though fortunately it has not gone un-mourned.
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Brabourne Restaurant -- for a wake to celebrate the end of this gem of a restaurant run by the most erudite of restaurateurs, Rashid Irani, film critic and buff extraordinaire who led the most incongruous existence as part-beer bar owner and part-writer."

glad to see this sign up some time later!

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The interior of the shop has always been rather functional and plain.

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At the entrance is the busy office where half the extended family of the owners seem to hang out.

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If you were to go in the morning you'd see a host of blue liveried Parsi Dairy Farm milkmen milling around waiting to get their milk churns filled before setting off to deliver it throughout the city.  Parsi Dairy Milk is still recognised as a guaranteed quality product and commands a premium price.

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Call me prejudiced, or perhaps it's because I was brought up on them, but I think Parsi Dairy Farm "pendas" are the best you can find - mawa, kesari and barela varieties.  You can't beat a great penda/peda, need I say more?

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 no talking loud,no fighting,no combing hair , no address enquiry ------!!


Lagan nu Custard.   Nice, but not optimum.

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Here's a look at some pages of the menu -

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The Multicultural, er, Fusion Cuisine and the Daily Specials -

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Wayside Inn  
Type : Takeaway
Cuisine : Cafe / Desserts, Parsi / Irani
Rated : 0/5 by user

  Added by wherecity on 03/06/2010
Beside Silk Route Restaurant, 38, K. Dubash Marg, Kala Ghoda, Mumbai – 400 001
Landmark : Rhythm House
Fort, Mumbai
9:00 am to 6:00 pm (M, TU, W, TH, F, SA)
Average Price : 50-200

Quick Info
WhereCity Review
The original Wayside Inn was recently revamped to its current avatar – a swanky restaurant specialising in Southeast Asian fare, called Silk Route. What remains is a cramped snack shop just outside Silk Route, that’s easy to miss. The menu here includes sandwiches, patties and rolls. Most fresh items fly off the shelves before noon. This is a perfect place to grab a quick snack when you are low on time and high on hunger.
Ajay Tawde

Arun Kolatkar pictured at the Wayside Inn, Kala Ghoda, Bombay, 1995 (photo: Madhu Kapparath). 
Kala Ghoda Square.

The name Kala Ghoda (काळा घोडा in Marathi), meaning black horse, came from the black stone statue of King Edward VII mounted on a horse which used to stand in Kala Ghoda Square.
The Wayside Inn: Where Dr Ambedkar wrote out the Indian constitution

The Wayside Inn: Where Dr Ambedkar wrote out the Indian constitution

way side in n converted to chinese restaurant