Bharuchi Akoori at By The Way. Photo: Perzen Patel
When people think of Parsis or Parsi food, they automatically think of Fort. And, I don't blame them. The proliferation of restaurants in the area, be it Ideal Corner, Military Cafe or supposedly the Queen's favourite, Brittannia is reason enough to think that Bawas love Fort.
However, much like the best place to see endangered species is in their natural habitat, the best place to get your fix of all things Parsi is in fact, not Fort, but Grant Road! Named after Sir Robert Grant, the Governor of Mumbai in 1835, Grant Road is home to almost seven Parsi colonies and an equal amount of Parsi fire temples too. Thanks to this, Grant Road offers much more Parsi food options than just dhansak and berry pulao. Here are my 5 favourite things to eat at Grant Road and why you should try them too.
Chicken Pattice at PAC
The Parsi Amelioration Committee stall or what is better known as PAC is a small store that is very easy to miss. Yet, it's one that none of my family would dare miss going to should we be in the area - after all there is always space for some chicken pattice! Made in house, the chicken pattice at PAC is redolent of the Parsi fascination with the British. The thin crumbly pastry and the filling are both made in house and such is the demand for these pattice at teatime that a fresh batch of 100 will simply disappear before your eyes! Started as an establishment that provided work to older Parsis, PAC also sells a variety of lesser-known snacks such as chapat, a kind of crepe; Kumas, the less popular brother of the mawa cake and badam (almond) pak amongst others.
Russian pattice at Belgaum Ghee Depot
Started in 1943, Belgaum Ghee Depot was named so because they just sold ghee. With the proliferation of supermarkets, the demand for ghee went down, and so 25 years ago, they also started selling a range of snacks, thankfully some that are completely different to those available at PAC. My favourite here is another style of pattice, the Russian chicken pattice. Named so because the white filling is akin to the 'white Russian skin', the pattice is basically mashed potato stuffed with cheese, chicken and white sauce. The size is massive and one is easily a lunch on the go!
Watermelon sherbet is a must-try as well as the brun muska at B Merwan. Photos: Perzen Patel
Brun pav maska at B Merwan
Few things in life can rival a hot cup of tea. And things get even better when you can dip a buttery slice of crusty bread into said tea. One of Mumbai's oldest Irani bakeries, B Merwan was opened in 1914 and is renowned for its mawa cakes that usually get sold out before morning peak time traffic. However, while the crowds fight over the cake I recommend that you indulge in their freshly-baked brun that comes heavily buttered with Amul with a cup of the extra sweet tea. Head there with a newspaper tucked into your arm and there can be no better way to start your day.
I'll be the first to admit that falooda is more Parsi than watermelon sherbet. Despite that, watermelon sherbet, especially this particular cart in the Alibhoy Premji Lane, which has been around for 60+ years is a must visit! Picture the summer heat of Mumbai sweltering down your back. Now imagine a tall glass filled with a sweet sherbet mixed with generous chunks of watermelon and ice cooling your fingers. And, if that’s not enough to convince you then let me tell you that three generations, my grandfather, dad and me all grew up on a Sunday diet of this sherbet accompanied with our heaped plate of mutton dhansak - there is no better combo than this!
Akoori at By The Way
I had written previously about how bhurji is the evil cousin of akoori, and if you'd like to see why then you need to head to By The Way, which is right at the Nana Chowk Junction. Run by the Seva Sadan Society, this small restaurant was recently renovated and they serve the best Bharuchi akoori at Grant Road. Mop up the creamy nutty akoori for breakfast along with a hot cup of tea and feel your troubles melt away. For those of you that still can't think of Parsi food without an image of dhansak popping into your head, By The Way does a mean dhansak too.