I was recently in Mumbai on work and the very first day that I was there I happened to stumble upon the quaint little place called Britania & Co. As it turns out, its actually a very famous and popular spot. Its a classic Parsi/Irani restaurant that Mumbai is famous for. The family that runs it the Kohinoors are there in full strength. Apparently, Mrs. Kohinoor is the one who started it all off and got all the food and recipes just right but she passed away recent;y, god bless her soul.
Photo: Courtesy Anindo Ghosh
Britania is situated in Ballard Estate, now I would the worst person to tell you where that is cause my geography of Mumbai is pathetic to say the least. I did figure out though that it is near the Chattrapati Shivaji Terminus or what was known as Victoria Terminus or just VT! Also it happens to be near the new Customs House.
Now down to the food, eating with geeks can be a strange experience. They are just not adventurous enough to try anything new. In fact, most of the time they would be downright boring and just order the same dishes to avoid any confusion. Sure enough, the three colleagues I was eating with did just that, they all ordered a “veg biryani”. I decided I was not going to be party to that and went for the “Mutton Dhansak”. No regrets I tell you. The Dhansak was absolutely wonderful. The meat was so tender that it just melted away in the mouth. Dhansak is essentially mutton cooked with a dal (or rather two of them) and then served with rice. The rice is also special, its browned by caramelising it and also has golden brown onions all over it. I also found three little kabab balls hiding in the rice which came as a pleasant surprise!
On the dessert front, I had a tough choice to make, the caramel custard or the chocolate mousse! both are favourites of mine. I quickly counted the days that I might be in Mumbai and decided that I would be able to make it back at least one more time so I would have a chance to try both. I went for the caramel custard and enjoyed that immensely.
Well, lunch ended there but the story does not. I was not able to come back for lunch the next day but came a day after that. I was extremely hungry and wanted to try different stuff. The company was still the same, 3 geeks who seemed scared of the food or me or maybe both. Being the foodie that I am, I took charge of the situation. I told them I was ordering the food that day and they would all just have to eat what came their way.
On my first visit, the one regret that I had that I was not able to talk to any of the family that runs the place. I was keen but it was a busy afternoon and we also had to rush back to work. However, on my subsequent visit I had time. One of the old parsi gentelemen who runs the place came over to me to ask if we were ready to order, this was literally thirty seconds of having entered and still trying to sit down. I guess most people who come here have a good idea of what they are going to eat well in advance. I asked for a minute before we would decide our order. Sixty seconds later, he was back with a smile and and his trusty little notepad and pencil. I took some quick advise from him on a few of the dishes and we landed up with a “Prawn Khr…” the last part of the name was lost in translation, chappati’s, “Sali Boti” and a “Chicken Berry Pulao”
The food was fabulous to say the least. The geeks with me could not believe it. I got a meek “Sir, this food is very good…” out of them and reminded them of two things, one the restaurant was right next to their office not mine and I was not the one who cooked it I just ordered it. Each of the dishes was special, the prawn was in a really spicy thick gravy and went very well with the chappatis. The chappatis would have qualified as thin parathas up north but they were really thin rotis with a dab of oil. Felt healthy. The Sali boti was a mutton dish which was doused in potato chips. The chips themselves were almost like potato straw. Finally, the chicken berry pulao. Apparently, this is one of the only places in the country that you can actually get to eat this. An aromatic rice much like a biryani and extremely colourful with the smattering of red berries, cashews, brown onions etc. A distinct flavour that I must go back and try again sometime.
Dessert time, the choice was easier, I wanted the mousse for sure, I discovered that they also had “misthi dahi” but decided that nothing would come close to a nice chocolate mousse at the end of such a great meal. The mousse it was, and it was delicious.
Well, it finished and despite the fact I was in no hurry, we did have to leave. On the way out, I struck a conversation with the old man, who started me off by saying “Come again soon”. I told him I was from Delhi and that I was not sure when I would get a chance to come back. I also told him that I loved the food and the ambience and that I was really missing my camera. I did ask him if he would have a problem if I took a few photographs on my next visit, without any hesitation, the sweet smile and “I would be honoured” was his reply.
One good reason to visit Mumbai!