Mumbai’s Parsi cafe culture

Mumbai’s grand old Parsi cafes are a symbol of the city’s diverse cuisine and culture, but on a foodie tour of the city our writer finds out they are a dying breed – Rosie Birkett – The Guardian

Radio Cafe, Mumbai. Click to enlarge and see roof detail. Photograph: Ming Tang-Evans


Opened in the 19th-century by Parsi settlers – Zoroastrians from Iran – these cafes, with their magnificently faded, time-capsule dining rooms and speciality dishes, are a gloriously eccentric part of the fabric of Mumbai. They are also democratic and inclusive places, where people of all backgrounds, classes and sexes meet, so you may find a Sikh next to a Hindu or Zoroastrian or a group of young female students dining alone.

They are also a dying breed. In 1950 there were about 550 of them, many of which grew from humble tea stalls; now only 15 to 20 are still open.

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