The good old Irani cafes in the city

Mumbai has a fast life; the rush hour, the 8.40am local, peak time, fast train, all a part of the fast life; so much so that people are mechanically tuned to be fast and furious (I guess its fitting to say so). In this fast pace, city people rarely have the time to stop and smell the flowers. As much as I love the city and its fast pace sometimes I like to take it slow and steady. A long walk, a short hike, visiting a gallery, some retail therapy are some breather activities for me. Irani cafes are one such other places where life can be experienced in slow motion even now. Some dingy and some well-maintained, almost all of them have marble-top tables with black wooden chairs. They serve steaming glasses of chai and melting maska (butter) with a sprinkling of sugar on the brun (bun). At the counter is the keen gaze of the cotton-shirted Irani owner. Nearby are glass-fronted shelves of khara biscuits, cakes and brun that you are supposed to dunk in your tea for that authentic flavor. The yummylicious kheema pav with a thick layer of oil floating over it sure beats the sophisticated five star buffets where I literally spend a small fortune of my monthly income. These cafes not only get me a bit nostalgic about the good old days when I was new to the city but also are very cost effective and go easy on the pocket. There are times when I literally have a craving for that tea with the distinctive taste/flavor which can only be found in Iranian chais, and I make no efforts to fight it.
Unfortunately these Iranian Cafes are going through a silent death and soon they will be extinct. With the new generations’ craze for coffee shops and fine dining, today there are just a handful of them left in the city. Sadly Iranian cafes are on their way to become something of the past which will only be mentioned in articles about the good old days of the city.

Some of the still exsisting Iranian Cafes in the city are:
Cafe Mondegar
Cafe Leopold
Paradise Restaurant
Cafe Oval
Britannia Restaurant
Cafe Ideal
Free India Rest. And Bakery
Kyani & Company
Bastani & Company
Cafe Garden
Byculla Pharmacy
Everest Rest. & Stores
Daryush Restaurant
Asian Stores
Messrs Cecil Restaurant
Mocambo Cafe & Bar
Cafe Dilbar Bar & Restaurant
Congress Bar & Restaurant

4 Comments so far

  1. Jacques (unregistered) on December 6th, 2007 @ 7:52 am

    Good article… do you have some addresses for some of these places? Any recommendations for ‘the best’?


  2. IdeaSmith (unregistered) on December 6th, 2007 @ 10:56 am

    Hi Viewer, this is a great post. And Hindustan Times seems to agree with me since they’ve featured it in their Blogosphere section today.


  3. bruce (unregistered) on December 15th, 2007 @ 9:27 pm

    Hopefully, they will be mentioned in more than just a nostalgic news piece; I am working on a book..See my blog
    http://www.iranichaimumbai.blogspot.com

    not much there at present, but plenty of interviews and info. will be added in future..


  4. TRADERJANKI (unregistered) on December 23rd, 2007 @ 7:20 am

    This is a great compilation. I’ve been to Leopold’s and Mondegar but none of the other ones, so I hope to check them out while I’m here. PS: I love mumbaimetroblogging, it’s an excellent resource.



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