For the love of good food….
One of my all-time favourite articles is one which occurred as part of the first issue of Mint’s Saturday supplement Lounge for the year 2008 (unfortunately it is no longer available on their e-paper website). The article talked about the 100 best experiences all over India as a part of a new year plan. The fascinating part of it was that it was a fine mix of food, adventure, history, sights and smells. Some of them were quaint, exotic and fairly unheard of while others were the quite obvious ones. One of the things on that list was to have bun maska at an Irani café in Mumbai. Ironically, I landed to live in Mumbai within the next few months. However, it took me more than six years and a husband to tick that item off my list.
One Sunday morning, on a whim, me and my husband got into a taxi and went to the end of the city to Nariman Point. The plan included breakfast at Kyani bakery, a small iconic Irani café. Since Parsis originally hale from Iran, these little places are alternately called Parsi bakery or Irani café. Started by the now-shrinking race of Zoroastrians in the city in the early period of the last century, entering these bakeries now is almost like entering a time capsule. Like the race, the number of these cafes is also ever reducing with 350 in the 1950’s and barely 25 active today.
However, as visible by the signage and the location, Kyani bakery is a hard-to-miss location. They proudly tell the passers-by of it’s 110-year old heritage. It is a restaurant with a fairly basic setup of glass-topped tables and plastic chairs. While to me the attitude at the place seemed to be more about eat and go, there seemed to be enough regular old-timers happy to sit there with a cup of tea and the Sunday newspaper. The popularity of the place is clearly visible with a thick crowd on an early Sunday morning.
This is one of those places where you don’t need to wait or call any one for the menu. The menus are right there on all the tables under the glass top. The café serves a wide range of items from rolls to cutlets to puddings to cakes to biscuits to sandwiches to burgers. You can see the entire menu here – https://www.zomato.com/mumbai/kyani-and-co-marine-lines/menu#tabtop.
One of the most popular items is the bun-maska which is a regular sweet bun peppered with tutty fruity and slathered with a thick layer of butter. This is best had with their special Irani chai, a sweeter-than-usual version of tea served in typical street stall glasses. Another specialty at these places is the variety of small Mawa cakes. One of them that I had was the Mava cake badam, small enough to be devoured by one person. The cake had hints of interesting spices like cinnamon and cardamom with a spattering of various nuts.
Their keema pav (available in chicken or mutton) is another thing to write home about. It is served with spicy minced chicken filled in a small plate accompanied with 2 buns. The speed at which my husband polished it off along with an extra serving of buns told me enough about how good it was. The only slight disappointment in our meal that day was my veg cutlet which I thought was a little cold and not crispy at all. But with such places, there are bound to be some hits and misses. The best part about these bakeries is that they don’t seem to have been hit with inflation over the years. My husband and I gorged on 2 bun maska, 1 Mawa cake, 1 chicken keema pav, 1 Veg cutlet and 3 Irani chais for a princely sum of Rs. 163.
Name: Kyani & Co.
Specialty: Bun maska, Irani chai, Mava cake, Keema pav, sandwiches etc.
Address: Jermahal Estate, 657, JSS Road, Kalbadevi Road, Tak Wadi, Lohar Chawl, Marine Lines, Mumbai, Maharashtra 400002. Landmark: Opposite Metro Cinema
Veg/Non Veg: Both
Value for money: 4.5/5
Food quality: 3.5/5
Overall rating: 4/5