If you like colours or aromas or flavours, this read is for you as it has all the three. In fact, the Lunch I recently had in Mumbai had all these and left me asking for more and more. I have a liking for Parsi Cuisine for its uncomplicated and yet very amazing flavours. I don’t miss a chance to go an eat in an Iranian Cafe, whenever I could. Mumbai has a sizeable Parsis and quite a few and famous Irani Cafes (I am still to try out a few more). Most of them are pretty old or iconic, if I may say. A typical Irani Cafe has that whiff of an colonial interiors, high ceilings, a basic wooden furniture, those typical red check table covers, glass jars, basic wooden furniture and an overall warmth the way you are treated. And of course they have that Parsi Cusisine. Then there is Soda Bottle Opnerwala, an Irani Cafe, which has married the tradition with modernity and in turn what comes out is simply a great experience. Here is what left me spell bound in SBOW, Mumbai.
It was a bit late in the afternoon when we walked in at the BKC outlet. The pace was still full and luckily we could find one corner from where one could actually have a view of the entire space. There were corporate execs, college students, housewives groups, casual diners and all were busy chatting, taking pics of the food (yes it’s not only me, I spotted many), enjoying their drinks from large old styled bottles, some were busy looking at the old styled writings or the graffiti on the walls. Right behind me was a wall displaying some colonial era pictures. Having admired the surroundings, it was time to order our food. What caught our fancy was a poster under the glass top….when it comes to enjoying good food, conditions don’t apply. So here we go with what we enjoyed, without conditions.
The famous Chicken Farcha turned out to be a great starter. Six pieces of fried chicken sitting in a basic steel container arrived with Onion rings and green mint chutney. The chicken emitted an aroma of fresh spices blended with batter fried meat. On a close look one could see the presence of mild threads of egg coating on the bread crumbs crust, coming quite closer to a tempura look. A bite told you it was crunchy outside, soft and juicy meat inside which had flavours of basic spices. The first look may say that this is a Parsi version of KFC but it’s different. It’s crunchy, it’s flavourful, it’s fried and yet not so heavy. Even though one knew that the remaining items were yet to arrive, one couldn’t help stoping at just one or two pieces.
Saas Ni Machhi
A dish landed on the table in a beautiful fish shaped serving dish. The first look was of a runny sauce, however, a closer look revealed a full pomfret drenched in a pale white runny sauce interspersed with green coriander and cherry tomatoes. It was a sight to admire. You can’t resist the aroma coming out of the dish. A spoonful of the sauce in your mouth would give you a burst of flavours on your palate. First a whiff of seafood fills you up which is quickly followed by the flavour of spices, sourness of vinegar, tang of lemon and finally, as an after taste it would give you a hint of sweetness. The chopped onions, coriander, green chilies and cherry tomatoes provide the texture and the punch to the whole flavour. The fish is very soft and fresh and is full of flavours. A fish curry which is light, easy to cook has a blend of many flavours which one can decipher and enjoy one by one.
Saas Ni Machhi is served with Khichri. At the first go, the Khichri looked like a plain goldenish yellow coloured rice which had an aroma of a pulao. A strong aroma of cloves, cinnamon and other spices was coming out of it. A closer look revealed that it had grains of Toor Dal too. So, it actually was a Khichri A spoonful in the mouth told me the rice was moist yet there was no oil in the sight. It was flavourful but had a balanced flavour of spices and the basmati. The rice flavour was blended with the flavour of Dal. A few drops of lemon on it took the Khichri to a different level. What a Khichri…light and flavourful. First I had it on its own and thoroughly enjoyed it. Then it was enjoyed with the fish and it was a riot of flavours on your palate.
Lagan Nu Custard
An essential Parsi Wedding dessert which seems to be a cross between Creme’ Brûlée and Caramel Custard. Set in a bowl, a pale faun coloured crust dusted with nuts and cinnamon, Lagan Nu Custard was a delight to watch. You need to exert slightly to dig your spoon in and scoop out the sweetness. A spoonful on your palate gives you the softness of custard pie coupled with the nutty crust of the same blend. Taste and flavour of custard is mild and fully blended with the milk. You may feel the sweetness is almost non-existent but it comes as a surprise after taste. At times, in one or two scoops you do get a mild hint of egg in it but is not dominant. Overall a very creamy, dual textured blend which is milky, light and flavourful. A great dish to wrap up your meal.
As a beverage to go along with the meal, I had the choice of ordering the usual Pallonji Raspberry Soda or the SBOW’s own version. I opted for the later and I am glad I did that. Although, I like the Pallonji one also (it is an acquired taste- many people feel it tastes like a cough syrup which necessarily I don’t agree). This version has real frozen berries as
out a spoonful from the liquid (berries pulp is suspended in the soda in abundance) and taste, it’s a refreshing delight. Frozen berries pulp is infused with the soda and gives you a tangy-fizzy flavour which is different and refreshing. And no doubt, the colour of the drink reminds you that the beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder. I loved the looks of the drink and the flavour too.
SBOW has many outlets in various cities. Now I am curious to go to the one in Delhi or Gurgaon to see if the Saas Ni Machhi tastes the same here too. In the meanwhile, do try out what you feel like and remember….Conditions Don’t Apply.
Bon Appetite !!