It was the Parsi/Irani festival of Navroz last Thursday, the 21st of March. A friend, Alka and I decided to celebrate by going on a Navroz food exploration. First stop Britannia & Co, an Irani/Parsi restaurant that started in 1923. Britannia and Co is famous for their Parsi food but most of all for their Berry Pulav.
After driving around and getting lost in South Bombay (which always happens to me and I love it because I get to see lots of lovely buildings) we reached Britannia in Ballard Estate. You’re greeted by Mr Boman Kohinoor, the 90 year old owner, at the entrance of this wonderfully atmospheric restaurant. High ceilings, chandeliers, pictures of Zarathustra, Mahatma Gandhi and Queen Elizabeth, flags of India, Great Britain and Iran and green checked tablecloths and Bentwood chairs.
The waiters are very polite and obviously used to dealing with hordes of wide-eyed food enthusiasts. We ordered the Mutton Berry Pulav and the Sali Boti with Rotis. Delicious! The berry in the pulav is the Barberry, tiny red jewels with this perfect citrus kick. The pulav was delicious as well with mutton that melted in the mouth. The Barberries, called Zereshk in Persian, are imported from Iran and have been ever since the owner Mr Boman Kohinoor’s wife Mrs Bachan Kohinoor introduced the pulav. The Sali Boti was great and I loved the rotis. We got extra boxes of the pulav packed to take home for our families.
Mutton Berry Pulav
Sali Boti and Rotis
Menu and napkins with the rooster logo
After a little chat with Mr Boman Kohinoor about Britannia and also how to get to our next stop we were off. One of the first issues of Time Out Mumbai had an article about an Irani sweet shop on Imamwada Road in Dongri that sells baklava. I have kept that precious piece of paper safely since then. Finally, 8 years later, off we went.
The Iranian Sweets Palace is 104 years old and only opens for 2 weeks over Navroz when they sell baklava and other traditional Iranian sweets – Louz Zaffran (saffron), Louz Badam (almonds) and Louz Pista (pistachios). It was all very exciting. The Louz part of the name (pronounced La woo z- where you don’t really pronounce the w) are the diamond shape that they are cut into. And then there were trays of Baklava ….. rich and delicious, with a taste of cardamom. The baklava is made with a dense pastry as against the flaky phyllo pastry I’ve had before but it was good. They also sell Gulab (rose) Sherbet, Gulab Jal (water), Gaz (a bit like nougat) and Zereshk (Barberries). They were out of Zereshk but I’ve put my name down for when they get some stock.
Mr Hajati with his Navroz sweets
Louz Zaffran and Louz Badam
Baklava and Louz Pista
The present owner and grandson of the gentleman who started the shop, Mr Hajati is a stock trader. He was enthusiastic, rightly proud of his heritage and patient with our questions and my camera. He even showed us his kitchen with the traditional cooking pots. There are articles from magazines and newspapers all around the walls of his store, cardboard boxes full of almonds and pistachios, and trays and trays of sweets. It was a perfect end to our food adventure.
With our goodie bag full of pulav and baklava we made our way back to the suburbs agreeing completely with the motto of Britannia and Co –
“There is no love greater than the love of eating” Amen
A lovely piece about Britannia & Co- http://travel.cnn.com/mumbai/eat/britannias-flying-food-489758
Brittania & Co-
Wakefield House, 11 Sprott Road, 16 Ballard Estate, Ballard Estate, Fort,
022 – 2261 5264 and 022 – 3022 5265
Iranian Sweets Palace-
143, Imamwada Road, Haroon Manzil, B Block, Bhendi Bazar, Sandhurst Road
022 – 6413 3009, 022 – 2343 3848 and (91) 9870017847