irani cafes of mumbai: yazdani bakery, fort
yazdani bakery is an irani cafe. it was opened by meherwan zend in 1953, a parsi baker. the building was originally a japanese bank, but then later sold off. run by the third generation now, it had about it a quaintness… like all irani cafes it seems like a lack of maintenance, things just seem to lie about, as is… and as always was! i don’t personally know why, but sometimes dingy dirt adds to atmosphere… and in irani cafes it most definitely makes them come alive!
they love the food they serve… and they have a consistency, that probably is one of their biggest selling points… and guess, they couldn’t care less about decor. almost the opposite of what we see in new-age restaurants!
at yazdani, all the products are handmade… and in traditional ovens. they have bread, bruns, pav, khari (a kind of puffy biscuit)…
the founder of this institution mr. zend, was a boxer! and even took part in some boxing competitions in india… i saw some pictures of a man posing, those typical body builders poses to show of the muscles? those poses… don’t have any pictures of them, but do give it a look if you choose to visit!
but before i go any further, let me explain what brun-maska or pav-maska is… to a non-bombay person, it might seem like gibberish!
its a piece of bread – like a bun – cut down the middle and then slathered, stuffed, artery-cloggingly with salted butter! some of the butter melts, and seeps into the pores of the well-risen bun, the rest stays in the middle… overall it comes together with a cup of suleimani or irani chai… suleimani chai is black tea with sugar, and if you want a dash of lime. irani tea is sweet, milk tea!
i stood at the making table and observed the servers go about getting a brun-maska ready.
there were lines of buns and lines of pav waited to be smacked and slathered with amul butter… i shuddered and at the same time drooled over the amount of butter he took on his knife as he went about even coating the bun’s middles!!
there were lines of 500gm packs of amul butter, carton cover removed, just sitting in their butter paper, almost like a straight line of neatly clad ppl in dhotis. i wonder if i have seen that much butter in my life all put together!
next to that, trays of brun, pav at different degrees of warm – from just out of the oven to warm enough to melt the butter…
i left with a tummy filled with one brun-maska, one pav-maska and half a sulaimani chai and a bag with ‘khari’ or small puffed biscuits to munch over at my chai break at office.