Finding Happiness In A Bowl Of Prawn Curry


prawn curry1Every family has their own version of prawn curry. Photo: Perzen Patel

A lesser-known fact about Parsis is that more families have traditions about their prawn curry than they do about the talked-about dhansak.

As a child, my Mamaiji made her prawn curry for me every Saturday when I visited her along with a big bowl of the kachubar (onion salad) that used to be kept aside exclusively for me. I loved her curry so much, that once when I was sitting on her lap and she asked me what I wanted were she ever to pass away; I innocently told her that all I really wanted was a big, never-ending bowl of her curry that I could always have and remember her by – an admission my stomach is most shameful about.

Not all Parsi kids grow up enjoying curry though. Food and travel blogger, Roxanne Bamboat of The Tiny Taster fame admits that as a child she would turn up her nose at curry, and demand a plate of dhandar or kheema instead. However, as her palate evolved, she too started enjoying the family tradition of Sunday curries – her weekend Instagram feed is a testimony to this tradition. Roxanne admits to being impartial and loving all sorts of Thai, Goan and Malaysian curries, but she brought a smile to my face when she said that despite tasting many curries as part of her job, her favourite was still the Parsi prawn curry.

While prawns is the best accompaniment to a curry, some Parsis prefer adding chicken or mutton to it, and that radically changes the taste of the curry. My friend, Zenia who blogs as the Branded Bawi remembers eating chicken curry as part of the free lunches Parsis were entitled to at the Avabai Petit School mess. Sadly, the mess used to make the curry so bland and watery that she grew up hating it. It’s only when her aunt made her a bowl of prawn curry a few years ago that she realised what the real deal tastes like and became a convert.

prawncurry3The Sunday curry is every Parsi’s favourite. Photo: Roxanne Bamboat

Grandma’s and Aunt’s weren’t the only safe keepers of good curry, and for food author Nicole Mody, her favourite version of the curry came from the family’s Goan cook. It was the first dish she learnt how to cook (I feel shameful admitting mine was white rice!) and for her prawn curry is the ultimate comfort food, which can be enjoyed any time of the day, be it 3 in the morning or 4 in the evening.

In a way, prawn curry is like the black sheep of Parsi food. I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve seen it feature at a Parsi wedding, or even being served at a Parsi restaurant. There, the only dishes reigning supreme are the Sali Jardaloo Chicken and Pulao Dar. I remember as a kid, my friend D opted for prawn curry instead of mutton pulao for her Navjote. And, while the cranky old Parsi aunties were scandalised at not being served pulao, I remember pigging out on serving after serving of Godiwala’s curry complete with king-sized prawns.

Like dhansak, every family has their heirloom curry recipe, but if I’ve made you hungry for some Parsi curry, here’s a great version you can try. For this recipe, you will get optimal results with the best slow cookers, the tenderness achieved over time is the goal!

Recipe for Parsi prawn curry

Ingredients

For the curry masala

1/2 fresh coconut chopped into pieces

1 tsp poppy seeds

1 tsp white sesame seeds

1 tsp cumin seeds

2 tsp coriander seeds

50 gm raw peanuts

30 gm chopped cashews

10 cloves of garlic

15 dried Kashmiri chilies

3 small tomatoes chopped

For the prawn marinade

1 tsp turmeric powder

1 tsp red chilly powder

½ tsp salt

For the curry

350 gms of prawns shelled and de-veined but with tails on

2 tbsp wheat flour

2 tbsp cooking oil

1 tsp turmeric powder

1 tsp red chilly powder

1 tsp curry powder

2 large potatoes quartered

Salt to taste

Method

  1. Before you make the curry masala, accumulate everything you will need onto one plate. This makes life easier once you start roasting and grinding.

  2. Once ready, dry roast all the seeds, peanuts, and cashews until their aroma starts wafting in the kitchen.

  3. Now, blend the seed mixture along with the coconut, garlic, chilies and tomatoes adding water as needed to make a thick paste. Keep grinding until you have a fine paste.

  4. While grinding the masala, you also need to marinate about the prawns in a turmeric, red chilli powder and salt marinade and set aside for about half an hour.

5.Once this is all ready, in a crockpot add some oil and fry the wheat flour making sure no lumps remain. Add in the curry masala and sauté for about 5 mins until the wheat flour is mixed well into the masala, and it no longer sticks to the sides of the crockpot.

  1. Next, add the turmeric, red chilli and curry powder along with water into the crockpot to get the curry to the right consistency. Ensure that you don’t put too much water. Add in 3-4 chopped potatoes into the crockpot and let the curry simmer for 20 – 25 minutes. When the potatoes are cooked, add in the prawns and simmer for a further 10 minutes.

  2. Enjoy the curry hot along with steamed rice, kachubar and lemon juice.

 

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The evolution of Kyani and Co.


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The story of how the more innovative and adaptive of Indian businesses took on their famous foreign rivals after economic reforms were introduced

When burger chain McDonald’s came to town 20 years ago, exciting the city of Mumbai in the first flush of post-liberalization consumer boom, it worried Farokh Shokriye.

As the man who would later take over Mumbai’s oldest Irani cafe, Kyani & Co., Shokriye wasn’t sure if his humble Parsi chicken patties and traditional mawa cakes would withstand the competition from the mighty Big Mac.

They did—and that’s the story of how the more innovative and adaptive of Indian businesses took on their famous foreign rivals after economic reforms were introduced a quarter of a century ago.

Shokriye, who had worked at the beer company London Pilsner for more than a decade, didn’t plan on a life with Kyani and Co., established in 1904 by Iranian (known in India as Parsis) immigrants and operated by his family.

n 2000, Shokriye, then 40 years old, found himself at a crossroads. He could either migrate abroad—like most of his family—or continue his family’s legacy by taking over the Kyani cafe.

“I had plans to migrate abroad to settle down with my family in New Zealand. But somewhere down the line it dawned upon me that that would be very selfish on my part. All my cousins had left for the US; me and a cousin were the only ones left. My father and uncle were in their late 70s and his (father’s) health was also failing.

“The option was to go abroad and forego everything here—forego India, forego the shop, forego the legacy, be a little selfish. Or take over the business and grow. I took a call and thought it would be better if I settled down here in Mumbai and carried on.”

And so it was that Shokriye found himself running the Kyani cafe, a south Mumbai establishment whose high ceilings and period furniture evoke the charm and nostalgia of a bygone era.

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Chikoo festival at Dahanu


As you maybe aware, numerous festivals are celebrated across India on religious grounds; but only a handful commemorating or celebrating places. With this in mind we the natives of Dahanu (in the Northern Konkan) kick started our very own annual festival back in 2013.

Scheduled for the 6th and 7th of February, 2016 (Sat-Sun), The Chikoo Festival highlights all what Dahanu is about- its forested hills, pristine beaches and the world famous Chikoo orchards.  This two day long carnival on Bordi beach will showcase troops of local dancers and will offer workshops in Warli painting, basket weaving, kite making and also snake catching. A flea market selling local produce should spoil visitors with choice while food-stalls offering local delicacies will leave ones taste-buds tingling. Tourists can participate in the local treasure hunt (exploring the town), or opt for a farm safari. They can also party post Sundown at the hill-top Yo-Yo Bash.  Once the weekend ends, Dahanu should see visitors off with baskets of Chikoos, Star-fruits, Grape-Fruits and bucket loads of memories to cherish.

Dahanu-Bordi is located 280 kms from Pune and 150 kms from Mumbai, accessible both by road and rail. Being a non-profit initiative, there is no entry fee however individual activities are chargeable in order to cover costs.  For further details please visit- www.chikoofestival.com . The itinerary of the same is annexed with this mail. Looking forward to seeing you and your loved ones.

On behalf of Team Chikoo Fest,

Farzan Mazda.

Co Convener, INTACH Dahanu Chapter.

+91 9673596996.

chikoo

GETTING YOUR PARSI FIX AT GRANT ROAD IN MUMBAI


 

Bharuchi Akoori

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 sharbet & B Merwan

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.

Watermelon sharbet 

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 and our favorite lumi tea skinny tea afterwards– 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.

5 Parsi Sweet Treats You May Not Have Heard Of


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On a mission to spread happiness through Dhansak and other Parsi delicacies, Perzen Patel is the Bawi Bride.

Dar ni poriDar Ni Pori is quite similar to the Maharashtrian puran poli.

While most Indians take their dessert seriously, Parsis take this one step further. There was Uncle B, my childhood neighbour from Pune who lived alone, but used to hide his Ferrorocher in his Godrej safe along with his valuables so that the maid didn’t surreptitiously steal them! And then there was Aunty J, who always said no to an extra spoonful of rice (carbs dikra, you see) but never to another bowl ofRavo.

At the ‘BawiSasural’ too, we take our sweets seriously. There’s always some Chapat – a kind of Parsi crepe – or Bhakra to go with tea and at night, dessert is a three-course affair featuring chocolates, pudding or cake and generous handfuls of dry fruits.

All this mithu monu has meant that over the course of my three-year marriage to ‘BawaGroom’, I’ve tried a bunch of Parsi desserts too and gone beyond the Lagan Nu Custard (custard made for weddings) and our Caramel Custard that everyone talks about. So, if you’ve had your fill of custard, and would like to try some of our more rare sweet treats, then here are 5 totally worth trying.

Ravo: Quite similar to sheera, Ravo is the staple sweet dish eaten for all happy occasions in a Parsi household. But, instead of water it is made with milk and generous servings of dry fruits and ghee. While almost everyone can make a decent Ravo, the trick is to get the texture correct. Having a dinner party? Jazz up this comfort food by serving it in wine glasses from Eva Solo or shot glasses!

RavoGenerous amount of ghee and dry fruits go into making Ravo.

Dar Ni Pori: While everyone knows about the puranpoli, few know about the Parsi Dar Ni Pori. The similarity between these dishes ends at the use of lentils. Had mainly as tea-time snack, you could go so far as to say that the Dar Ni Pori is the Parsi equivalent to the British scone. Trust me, nothing can beat the feeling of crisp, flaky pastry giving way to a thick layer of sweetened dal that’s mixed in with a variety of dry fruits. Sadly the Dar Ni Pori can be quite complicated to make and so is hard to find. Your best bet is to find an old Parsi aunty, who supplies them or head to PAC or RTI in Mumbai.

Mithoo Dahi: There’s nothing like ending a meal or beginning one with something sweet, and that is the sole purpose of the Parsi Mithoo Dahi. Made with rich buffalo milk, this yoghurt is liberally sprinkled with sugar and is set into miniature cups. The dahi is then served alongside another sweet dish like sev (vermicelli) to take your dessert to another level. While you can easily make it at home, my favourite place to have Mithoo Dahi is from PAC in Nana Chowk or Parsi Dairy Farm at Marine Lines.

Dudh no Puff: Of all these desserts, the Dudh no Puff has to be my favourite. Simply put, the Dudh no Puff is chilled milk froth or what some international cafes call a fluffy. In terms of flavour, it comes quite close to Delhi’s Daulat Ki Chaat. However, the Parsi version also has a delicious undertone of cardamom and nutmeg, and has achieved cult status due to the fact that it is now most hard to lay your hands on. While some colonies in Mumbai will have a local vendor selling puffs early in the morning, your best bet is to go to Udvada during the winter months or stop at Parsi da Dhaba on the Mumbai–Gujarat Highway.

lagan nu custard ice creamGive your regular Laganu Nu Custard a quirky twist.

Lagan Nu Custard ice-cream: I have to admit this is not some secret heritage dish lost to the times, but it is something I came up with – a happy accident of sorts! To put it simply, this ice-cream is made with chunks of Lagan Nu Custard frozen between a creamy vanilla and nutmeg base. While you can of course have it by itself, it tastes even better with a shot of Bailey’s or a side serving of some more custard! Want to give this ice-cream a try? Here’s how you can make it at home.

So the next time you’re at the iconic Britannia & Company Restaurant at Fort or craving some Parsi desserts, skip the custards and give one of these desserts a whirl. Have you had any of these before? Where’s the best place to eat them according to you? Leave us a comment and let us know.

Cafe Irani Chaii 


While many older establishments threaten to shut down, Café Irani Chaii (spelt with a double ‘i’) in Mahim, recreates fond memories of buzzing Irani cafés, once the pride of the city. When we walked into the café, the black-and-white floor tiles, wooden furniture and the jumbo glass jars filled with toffees put us into rewind mode in a flash. We loved that there was no forced attempt to create a fusion-style cafe.

The familiar interiors of Café Irani Chaii. pics/Suprita Mitter
The familiar interiors of Café Irani Chaii. Pics/Suprita Mitter

As we waited for Bun Maska (Rs 25) and Irani Chai (Rs 20), we noticed a few curious customers walk in, each with a host of queries. We overheard the owner, Mohammed Hussain, tell one of the visitors that the chairs were over 90 years old. “We have owned them for very long, while a few others have been sourced from relatives”, he added. “The Irani community is known for their wooden furniture,” he beamed. Cutesy, red, Irani-style kettles sat pretty in a showcase beside sepia-tinted photographs. The space is small, neat and compact, complete with a black board that lists out strict rules like ‘no combing hair’ and ‘no talking to the owner.’

(From left) Rasberry Soda, Ice Cream Soda and Ginger Soda from Pallonji’s
(From left) Rasberry Soda, Ice Cream Soda and Ginger Soda from Pallonji’s

The décor wasn’t the only thing that reminded us a bygone era, the taste of the food and the prices did full justice to our time travel trip. The menu is limited as of now but quite a few additions are in store. Post our chai and maska treat, the melt-in-mouth Chicken Pattice (Rs 25), and the slightly sweet Mutton Pattice (Rs 25) were wolfed down in minutes. Convinced that we were in good hands, we ordered Akuri (Rs 60), Paya (Rs 80), and the Mutton Kheema Ghotala (Rs 120), which was better than the regular Kheema Pav. a Egg and Kheema were cooked together in a gravy, served with hot, buttery pav.

Mutton Paya with Pav
Mutton Paya with Pav

The Chicken Biryani (Rs 150) was also a hit as it was not too oily or spicy. We washed down these goodies with the traditional Parsi Ice Cream Soda, Rasberry Soda and Ginger Soda from Pallonji’s (Rs 25 each). The Mawa Cake (Rs 25) was soft and fresh while the greatest delights were the Dinshaw ice creams. After years, we were able to indulge in our favourite flavours Nimbu Pani, Bombay Chaat and Raw Mango (Rs 5 each).

As we were about to leave, we spotted fresh Chicken Rolls being placed in the display shelf. “We made these for the first time today, and haven’t decided on the pricing yet. You can have both for Rs 50,” Hussain offered. Needless to say, we obliged. We will certainly return for the Dhansak, the Persian Kebabs with butter rice and Berry Pulao, soon to be added to the menu. For a trip down memory lane and for some lip-smacking Irani fare, drop by this little gem.

On: 7 am to 11 pm (daily)
At: 9, Rosary Chawl, Mangireesh CHS Ltd, MMC Road, Mahim.
Call: 24455577
Food: Good
Service: Quick
Ambiance: Nostalgic

http://www.mid-day.com/articles/restaurant-review-irani-treat-in-mahim/16688191

Parsi Dharamshala | Parsi food from Mrs Bagli’s Kitchen


I have been living in Central Delhi for several years now and would have crossed Delhi Gate infinite number of times. Unfortunately, I never knew that just before Delhi Gate, there’s a Parsi Dharamshala that has been serving Parsi food in Delhi, much before we got Sodabottleopenerwala and Rustom’s Parsi Bhonu.

As one needs to place an order for the food in advance, I called the Dharamshala. To my utmost pleasure, on the other side, I found Mrs. Bagli, the caretaker, who doubles up as the Main Chef of the Canteen. There was great affection in her voice and almost instantly I felt a connection with this soft-spoken lady.

Next day, I reached the Dharamshala for lunch and the table was set for us. With beautiful Caramelized rice, Kebabs, Patra ni Machchi, Dhansak, Kachumber Salad and Roti. The homelike set up almost felt like I was having lunch at my own place. The fireplace, the dining table adjacent to the kitchen and the humble set up, instantly put me at ease.

There was so much food for two people, it felt like a challenge to finish it!

Well, not someone to back down easily, when it comes to food, we started digging in.

The thick long grains of caramelized rice with keema kebabs and Dhansak was delicious and tasted like something my mother would make at home, of course with her Punjabi touch. However I fell in love with Patra ni Machchi. Big generous piece of fish, coated with mint and raw mango chutney, wrapped in banana leaf and steamed. This was pure delight! The sole reason for one to be happy and satisfied with food and life. Again, a little bizarre though, that the raw mango and mint chutney, tasted exactly like how my mother would make at home.

Caramalised Rice with Kebabs - Mrs. Bagli’s Kitchen Parsi Dharamshala
Dhansak - Parsi Dharamshala
Rice with Kebabs - Mrs. Bagli’s Kitchen Parsi Dharamshala
Patra-Ni-Machchi---Bagli's-Kitchen
Parsi Dairy Kulfi - Parsi Dharamshala

I think Mrs Bagli and my mother must be secretly sharing some recipes. How I wish, this was true!

But, honestly, I always like Parsi food for its familiar, simple and clean flavours.  Although, one can sense the influences of Gujarati food and British dishes, still Parsi food has a character of its own. The Khattu Meethu flavour, the use of red vinegar, the pattice and bread and of course ‘eggs’, are all signs of how Parsi food has embraced different cuisines and then, evolved over the course of several years.

So while I was eating, I noticed two things that stood out. The Dhansak tasted more of lentils & meat and the lemons served in kachumber salad were ‘orange’ and not the normal yellow ones.

Later when I met Mrs Bagli in her office, I asked her how her Dhanksak tasted more of lentils, she immediately replied “Mummy always used to put Kaddu (pumpkin), but my cook doesn’t like the taste of it”.

With a twinkle in her eye, she narrated many stories to me. Starting from 1958, when she shifted from Bombay, after marrying her Parsi priest husband from Delhi. She talked fondly about her badminton classes, dances classes and parties. Being a quintessential Bombay girl, this was life to her.

Now, she organizes parties, conferences, meetings in the auditorium of her Dharamshala. She plans her parties on Saturday night, so that it’s convenient for everyone to come and enjoy. As we walked around her baug, she showed me the trees her husband had planted. The orange lemons were from the same baug. She spoke vividly about her son, who’s now the head priest of Delhi Parsi community and an avid wild life photographer. Kainaz Contractor and Anahita Dhondy (Chefs at Rustom’s Parsi Bhonu and Sodabottleopenerwala respectively) have grown up in front of her. The cook who worked for her husband, his third generation also now works for the Dharamshala.

Lime-tree---Parsi-DharamshalaLime-tree—Parsi-DharamshalaMrs Dhun Daraius Bagli - Parsi DharamshalaMrs Dhun Daraius Bagli – Parsi Dharamshala

Now years have gone by, generations have changed and this, now a mother of four, still lives at this Dharamshala. A place, which her husband once told her, was their kingdom.

Address: Bahadur Zafar Road, LNJP Colony, Near Maulana Azad Medical College Campus, New Delhi, 110002
Contact: 011 23238615
Cost for two: Rs 800-1000
NOTE: They also serve delicious Kulfi sourced from Parsi Dairy.

http://www.eatstory.in/authentic-homelike-parsi-food-at-delhi-parsi-anjuman/

Pervin Todiwala: The story of Café Spice Namasté


How did the idea of Cafe Spice came to you? 

We were working in a much smaller restaurant down the road from Prescot Street where we are now, called ‘Namaste’ when we were invited by restaurateur cum entrepreneur, Michael Gottlieb, to go into partnership with him in the much larger Cafe Spice Namaste. Around 10 years later, we took over the ownership of the entire restaurant.
How do you remember the first steps while growing Cafe SpiceNamaste?

The early years were a period of discovery and growth but also of hard work which was ultimately extremely rewarding. Very early on, we were given a glowing review by one of London’s top restaurant critics, Fay Maschler, and from then on we never looked back. People were excited by Cyrus’ new approach to Indian cuisine. It was something entirely fresh in the UK, where people were used to flocked wall paper and dishes that most people in India have never heard of. We worked very hard, as we still do now and we inherited some of our staff which brought its own challenges. Asian men can sometimes be ambivalent about having women in the workplace, particularly in the kitchen where (regardless of where you are and the inroads that have been made over the past few years) there is still a strong macho culture, I had to learn to steel myself and adopt a demeanour that projected authority.

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Cyrus and I focussed a lot on training and equipping our staff – many of whom could not speak very much English – with the tools necessary to work and live well in the UK. Most of them are still with us today. We were the first restaurant to gain a National Training Award and become an Investors in People Champion.

It is a cliché, but from the beginning our customers’ wellbeing always came first, in parallel with our staff’s wellbeing. We have always taken care of our customers and I make it a point to remember each and every one, preferably by name. When we reached our milestone 10thanniversary, we thought of a way of honouring them and so we came out with an anniversary menu with their favourite dishes renamed after them. It was a hoot.

I had to learn to steel myself and adopt a demeanour that projected authority

What was the main purpose and expectations? 

We are Parsees, and our mantra is ‘good thoughts, good words and good deeds’. We try to live by this every day. We always wanted to make a difference – and first and foremost our goal was to offer the best authentic Indian food anyone has ever tasted. But underlying all of that has been our Parsee ethos of creating a legacy so everything we do is geared towards the long term and money is secondary; it is a means to an end. We always wanted to support the environment and local producers and suppliers. We are committed to staff training and training tomorrow’s chefs. We continue to do so till this day, particularly with the competition that Cyrus founded, ‘Zest Quest Asia’, which aims to stimulate interest in Asian cookery and cuisine among home grown chefs. This not only helps to spread the knowledge and skills of authentic, classical Asian cuisine but goes some way to addressing the skills shortages that the £3 billion Asian food industry – which includes 80,000 restaurants — is experiencing today.

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Have your dreams come true with Café Spice? 

We continue to strive, but the fact we have grown –with ‘The Park Café’ in Victoria Park East, and currently two hotel restaurants in the UK, ‘Mr Todiwals’s Kitchen’ in Hilton London Heathrow T5 and ‘Assado’ at the Hampton Waterloo – is something we are thankful for.


Who are your customers and how do you maintain long-term relationships with them? 

Our customers are a good cross-section. In the beginning we used to be considered a City, ‘expense account’ restaurant but that has changed in the past few years. We still enjoy a good bulk of our business from the City – and some of our longest standing clients who have become friends such as Nick Gooding, Ipe Jacob and Tony Bond, first came to us because they worked nearby.

We owe our success to our customers…

But today our customers come from all over the UK and from many parts of the world including Japan, the Philippines, Germany, France, Sweden and the USA. We try to serve them the best we can, and Cyrus is a genius in always coming up with something new and exciting to share with them. This year we are starting year-long celebrations of our 20th anniversary. We owe our success to our customers.

Indian cuisine is very popular – has this helped you to have more success in your business? 

It depends on what you mean by popular, or what Indian cuisine you consider popular. As a whole, yes, Indian cuisine has been embraced in the UK because of our unique history. That of course has been a great launching pad. But I think what has made us successful is our ability to innovate; Cyrus is a pioneering craftsman in the kitchen, but he also has a deep, almost incisive knowledge of food and food history. This allows us to deliver food that can be totally unexpected. One of our greatest personal and professional successes has been to raise the profile of Indian, Parsee and Goan food into the mainstream.

This year we are starting year-long celebrations of our 20th anniversary…

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What is your favourite dish? 

Mine is TANDOORI GOOSNARGH DUCK SAUSAGE and GOAN PRAWN CURRY

What are the benefits and disadvantages of a couple working together? 

Benefits outweigh disadvantages – I always have to watch Cyrus’s back and that helps for the benefit of the business. The disadvantage is that we live in a man’s world and there can be only one captain of the ship.

Who takes the business decisions? 

Every business decision is a collective decision, reached through collaboration with our team, who have a stake in our business too.

Who cooks at home? 

Me mostly

How do you manage time together out of the business? 

We try and do things with friends and also take holidays together, never separate.

What is your future dream? 

Our dream is have a Todiwala collection with our sons, bringing together their creative aspect into the business. They would take this business into a new dimension. We have also set up a Todiwala Foundation with which we hope to support education in the Asian hospitality sector. Our elder son Jamsheed has already started his own line of products from alcohol to platters etc.

To discover more about Café Spice and the cuisine, go to http://cafespice.co.uk

http://www.globalwoman.co/2015/10/pervin-todiwala-the-story-of-cafe-spice-namaste/