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Recipes to restaurants: Bohri cuisine becoming hip and happening

Be it through pop-ups or home restaurants, Bohri cuisine is being celebrated in Mumbai in a big way. We take a look at some concepts that are helping it gain popularity.

more lifestyle Updated: Jan 15, 2016 19:22 IST
Shradha Shahani
Shradha Shahani
Hindustan Times
Bohri Cuisine

Be it through pop-ups or home restaurants, Bohri cuisine is being celebrated in Mumbai in a big way. We take a look at some concepts that are helping it gain popularity.(Facebook/ The Bohri Kitchen)

Mutton Kheema Samosa, Raan, Haleem, Nali Nihari and Dabba Ghosht are just some of the few mouth-watering delicacies prepared in nearly every Bohri household. But, if a non-Bohri wants to feast on some of these dishes, he or she has limited options.

A few Bohri households in the city seem to have taken note of the dearth of eateries that serve Bohri cuisine, and are trying to fill the gap. The latest entrant into the scene is The Big Spread, a home restaurant in Byculla. It joins the ranks of The Bohri Kitchen, which started its home culinary experience in December 2014.

Read: Savour these lesser known cuisines

Apart from these restaurants, the cuisine is also being celebrated in a big way with food pop-ups in the city. Here, we take a look at some of the most popular caterers of Bohri cuisine in the city.

The Bohri Kitchen

Frustrated at seeing his 57-year-old mother, Nafisa Kapadia, let her talent go to waste, Munaf Kapadia decided to start a restaurant for her. After giving a lot of thought to the idea, he realised that a restaurant, with all its logistics, is not his cup of tea. So, he decided to organise a dinner at his Colaba home, where his mother whipped up some traditional Bohri dishes. “At first, my father, Turab Kapadia, was against charging people for the food cooked at home. But, the dinner became a grand affair, where not only my friends, but a few friends of my friends also showed up. They loved my mother’s food. This is what gave birth to The Bohri Kitchen,” says Munaf.

Mutton Kheema Samosas (Facebook/ The Bohri Kitchen)

Some of The Bohri Kitchen’s signature dishes are Raan, Mutton Kheema Samosas, Dal Chawal Palida and Khichda, among others. Due to the overwhelming response that Munaf has received, he has now decided to expand into a delivery service. The cost of the thaal is Rs 1,500 per person, and every booking requires about seven to eight people. A reservation needs to be made seven days in advance. Call 9819447438 for bookings.

Charcoal Biryani

Bohri biryanis, unlike the Dum Biryani, is packed with spices. To show people a different side to the dish, chefs Mikhail Shahani and Mohammed Bhol, along with Anurag Mehrotra, Krishna Kanth Thakur and Gautam Singh started Charcoal Biryani, a delivery service. “The Bohri biryani is slow cooked. The pot is layered with birista (golden fried onions), white rice, chicken or mutton, and spices. Very few restaurants in Mumbai use this method to cook their biryani,” says Rohit Mehrotra, operations head of the service.

To show people a different side to the dish, chefs Mikhail Shahani and Mohammed Bhol, along with Anurag Mehrotra, Krishna Kanth Thakur and Gautam Singh started Charcoal Biryani, a delivery service (charcoalbiryani.com)

They offer six types of Bohri biryanis — Paneer and Vegetable Biryani, Paneer Makhani Biryani, Chicken Tikka Biryani, Afghani Chicken Tikka Biryani, Butter Chicken Biryani and Lamb Biryani. One portion starts from Rs210, and is ideal for one person. To place an order, download the Charcoal Biryani app for Android and iOS or call 9022500500.

The Big Spread

Farida Kutianawala, a 47-year-old home chef, opened her Byculla house to food lovers so that people could taste the goodness of Bohri cuisine. Launched in October 2015, through The Big Spread, she not only hosts dinners at her home, but also organises pop-up markets and delivers traditional Bohri food. They also organise the thaal experience at one’s home with a minimum order of one thaal. The Big Spread is run with the help of her children, Fatema Soni and Murtuza Kutianawala. Their menu consists of Mutton Nalli Nihari, Chicken and Mutton Biryani, Mutton Khichda and Raan Masala, among other Bohri delicacies.

Thal by The Big Spread (The Big Spread )

“My mother, at first, took up the responsibility to cook for a few family friends. This instilled confidence in her,” says Soni. The Big Spread organised a Bohri food pop-up on December 27. The cost for a thaal is `1,300 per person, and requires seven to eight people. For bookings, call 9821535884. The reservation needs to be made a day in advance.

Small Fry Co

The brainchild of Insia Lacewalla and Paresh Chabria, Small Fry Co — a company that creates and curates culinary experiences in the form of pop-up markets, food festivals, dining events and collaborations — has organised two successful Bohri food events in the city. The last one was held in December. “Insia’s mother, Tasneem Lacewalla, has always been very good with Bohri food. And since there are hardly any Bohri restaurants in the city, we decided to explore this cuisine. The pop-up received a good response, and we are planning another one in the next quarter,” says Chabria.

The cost to organise a thaal at your place is Rs1,500 onward per person, and requires a minimum number of 20 people. (Facebook/ Small Fry Co)

Some of the key dishes served at the pop-ups are Red Sauce Chicken, Kheema Na Samosa, Dal Na Samosa and Mutton Biryani. The cost to organise a thaal at your place is Rs1,500 onward per person, and requires a minimum number of 20 people. For bookings and other details, visit www.smallfryco.com.

Read: Mumbai’s eateries offer quirky take on regional cuisine

Organise a Bohri thaal at home

Dolly’s

Colaba-based Dolly Fatehi has been cooking Bohri dishes for 20 years now. Although the 77-year-old is no longer actively involved in it, her secret recipes will live on, since her son, Salim Fatehi, has taken over the business. Dolly’s menu includes Raan Biryani, Bohri Curry, Khichda and Dabba Ghosh, among other dishes.

* Price: Rs1,400-2,000 per kg (feeds seven to eight people) onward; order needs to be placed two days in advance. To organise the thaal at your place, a minimum of 25 people are required.

* Contact: 9820085833

Some of The Bohri Kitchen’s signature dishes are Raan, Mutton Kheema Samosas, Dal Chawal Palida and Khichda, among others. (Facebook/ The Bohri Kitchen)

Pacha Caterers

Mazgaon-based Shahin Pacha set up a catering service to help a small-time chef at first, but then took it up as a full-time job. She, along with her partner, Mehraj Khan, has been in this business for over 20 years now. The menu includes Red Sauce Chicken, Khichda, Mutton Biryani and Mutton Kheema Samosa, among other dishes.

* Price: Rs1,500 onward (for eight people). One thaal is the minimum order, and it needs to be placed at least two days in advance.

* Contact: 9892344565

Bhol Caterers

Saiffudin Bhol’s family runs a catering outlet in Nagpada that has been known for Bohri food for over 50 years now. Some of the signature dishes include Dal Chawal Falida, Mutton Kari and Birista Rice, Mutton Seekh Kebab, and more.

* Price: Rs2,000 onward for a basic thaal for eight people (minimum three thaals are required to organise the experience at your place, and the order needs to be placed a day in advance).

* Contact: 9769746170

Charcoal Biryani offers six types of Bohri biryanis — Paneer and Vegetable Biryani, Paneer Makhani Biryani, Chicken Tikka Biryani, Afghani Chicken Tikka Biryani, Butter Chicken Biryani and Lamb Biryani. (charcoalbiryani.com)

King’s Kitchen

An ardent food lover, management graduate Abbas Ali set up King’s Kitchen, a thaal service in Mazgaon, in 2010. His repertoire comprises dishes like Seekh Biryani, Smoked Biryani, Haleem and Mutton Kesar Biryani, among others.

* Price: Rs 2,500 for a basic thaal for eight people (a minimum of 50 people are required, and the order needs to be placed three days in advance).

* Contact: 9867039777

Beginner’s guide to Bohri cuisine

* What is a thaal?
It is a Bohri tradition, where the entire family dines together on one platter, which is called a thaal.

* How many people can eat in a thaal at one time?
A thaal is meant for seven to eight people.

* What is the order of the food that is served?
The Bohri thaal starts by having salt. It is followed by something ‘kharaas’ (savoury) and then ‘mithaas’ (sweet). It is followed by a savoury and sweet dish once again. One then moves on to main course, which is then followed by ‘bir’, a fizzy drink. The meal ends with paan.

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