Karl Rock's Blog

India Travel Safety & Advice plus the Best of Incredible India

Tag: Food

Outside the Irani Cafe in Pune. Photo © Karl Rock.

The Irani Cafe, Pune Review

I love Iranian food. When I worked in IT, my 2 Iranian colleagues and I would order from an Iranian families home delivery service once a week.

During my last week at the office, I told the guys, “We’re ordering Iranian every day this week!” That was a tasty week.

The Iranian Cafe in Pune isn’t strictly Iranian though. It’s more a Parsi Cafe (the Parsis came to India from Iran). I’m a sucker for Parsi food too because it’s very similar to Iranian but with a slight Indian twist.

The area I was staying in Pune was close to the NH7 Weekender Music Festival I was attending. Within walking distance there were very few clean places to eat though. But there were not one but two Irani Cafes. So I ended up having breakfast at both.

Chicken Kheema Gotala at the Irani Cafe Pune. Photo © Karl Rock.

Chicken Kheema Gotala at the Irani Cafe Pune. Photo © Karl Rock.

The Food

Here’s the low down on what to try:

  • Bun Maska: a huge bun with a sweet cream filling.
  • Chicken Kheema Gotala: spicy chicken and egg mince served with bread. Gotala means “fake” because they add an egg to the chicken mix instead of using 100% chicken.
  • Tea: just a good old sweet Indian Chai without the spice.
  • Chicken Berry Palau: I didn’t get to try this, but see my review on Britannia & Co. for the best Chicken Berry Palau in India.
  • Joojeh or Kubedeh Kebab: BBQ’d chicken or Mutton pieces in Persian spices and served with saffron rice. An Iranian staple.

Service is fast, the restaurants are clean with a Parsi Cafe vibe, and the food and cheap and tasty. What’s not to like?

Irani Cafe Pune Menu 1. Photo © Karl Rock.

Irani Cafe Pune Menu 1. Photo © Karl Rock.

Irani Cafe Pune Menu 2. Photo © Karl Rock.

Irani Cafe Pune Menu 2. Photo © Karl Rock.

Entrance to Britannia & Co. Restaurant, Mumbai. Photo © Karl Rock.

The Best Restaurant in India: Britannia & Co. Mumbai

I first stepped foot in Britannia & Co. in Mumbai’s historical and beautiful Fort area with two Parsi friends the very first time I visited India. Back then, I had no idea what Parsi food was, but I was about to find out.

Read on to find out what makes this my favourite restaurant in all of India.

Outside Britannia & Co. Restaurant. Photo © Karl Rock.

Outside rustic Britannia & Co. Restaurant. Photo © Karl Rock.

The Parsis & Their Cafes

The Parsi people came to India from Iran over 300 years ago. They initially settled in the little-visited, but incredibly charming, Portuguese Union Territory of Daman & Diu at the bottom of Gujarat. Hence why Parsis around India and the world still speak Gujarati.

Many continued onto Mumbai, settled there, and some started Parsi cafes. Mumbai was once buzzing with 500 Parsi cafes, but the majority have now closed due to increasing rent.

These days, Parsi food is hard to come by but has been rejuvenated recently by the very good, but not as good as Brittania & Co., SodaBottleopenerWala chain in India. If you can’t get to Mumbai, go there for a similar experience.

Parsi Trivia: The most famous Parsi outside of India is… Freddy Mercury from Queen. He studied in Mumbai, before moving to England.

Britannia’s Owner

The rustic old-school Parsi cafe style of Britannia & Co. Photo © Karl Rock.

The rustic old-school Parsi cafe style of Britannia & Co. Photo © Karl Rock.

When you dine at Britannia, the charismatic owner Boman Kohinoor will likely introduce himself to your table. When I first met him he was 91 years old, now, on my latest trip, he’s 96 and telling me he’s going to beat the current record holder to 150 years.

His secret? Not retiring! You’ll find him there during their opening hours (only Mon-Sat 12-4pm) telling stories to customers about his food, life, and long relationship with the Royal Family of England – photo evidence included. Chatting with him is a treat.

The Food

Chicken Berry Palau. Photo © Karl Rock.

Chicken Berry Palau. Photo © Karl Rock.

Parsi food is closer to Iranian food than Indian. Parsi cooking doesn’t require 10 different spices, they use more straightforward flavours but pair them with original accompaniments. Like Palau and berries, chicken curry and fried potatoes, or rose syrup, vermicelli, and sweet basil seeds.

These are three Parsi delicacies you cannot leave Britannia without devouring:

  1. Chicken or Mutton Berry Palau: Fragrant saffron rice with a large helping of thick and sweet chicken curry in the middle, topped with dried sweet berries, fried onion, and cashews. If you’re thinking “why berries?” You just have to trust me and try it, the combination is something special.
  2. Sali Chicken: A light meaty flavoured chicken curry topped with a ton of fried potato sticks.
  3. Bombay Duck: It has nothing to do with duck! It’s a small local lizardfish that is crumbed then deep fried. They’re cooked bone-in, but the bones are soft and edible.

You’re going to need to take 2 friends to finish all that food.

Price wise it’s expensive for India, but for the quality, taste, and quantity you will not be disappointed. The service and the unique food will have to return every time you visit Mumbai, I guarantee it!

If you’re craving to make Sali Chicken at home, the good news is Boman Kohinoor has shared the recipe.

Britannia & Co. Menu. Photo © Karl Rock.

Britannia & Co. Menu. Photo © Karl Rock.

Blue Tokai

5 Hidden Back Street Eateries in Delhi

If you’re someone who often travels to different countries, you might look on the internet and ask your friends about the major attractions in that place. But more often than not, you seem to find better places when you start exploring yourself. These explorations might take you to small and narrow lanes that might have some of the best cafes in the world, and yet, no one told you about them.

Delhi has many many gems hidden in unexpected locations. To make your exploration easier, I’m listing down five hidden back street locations in Delhi that will definitely make you fall in love with Delhi.

Read More

Beef. Photo by Joshua Rappeneker.

Is It Safe for Tourists to Eat Beef in India?

Despite popular belief, beef dishes are available in India. But maybe not for much longer. In fact, India is, ironically, the #1 exporter of beef in the world.

24 of the 29 states in India have various regulations around the slaughter or sale of cows and their meat. But as of 26 May 2017, the Narendra Modi-led BJP Government have tried to bring all states in line by imposing a country-wide ban on the sale of cows and buffalos for slaughter at animal markets across India. Effectively banning the sale of cow meat in India.

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Hauz Khas Park

Top 5 Local Offbeat Places To Visit in Delhi

If there is one word to describe Delhi, it’s “unexpected”. You can never get enough of this state. When you are a foreigner to this place, I want to ensure that you can get a glimpse of everything because Delhi is not just about its British architecture or centuries old monuments but also about all the local and historical places you will find among its shabby lanes. So if you cannot get enough of this place like me and you have the travel bug within you, read on.

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