A wise man once said: simplicity is the ultimate form of sophistication. This isn't just true of life, but also aapro Parsi cuisine. It is hearty, fuss-free fare with an accent on fresh ingredients. But therein lies the paradox. Creating such simple, no-nonsense, robust fare needs consistency and commitment. “The meat has to be perfectly cooked—not a touch more or less; it can't be too oily either, particularly if it's going to be topped with fries (as in the case of saliboti.) If you cut corners and use store-bought ginger garlic paste—you risk losing the very soul of the dish. The dals must be mixed perfectly, the saag veggies, unfailingly crisp and alert," expresses yoga instructor and marathon runner Monaz Goverkar. In a nutshell, food that is homely, no faltu ka glamour, thank you very much!
Also read: All you need to make an egg-cellent Parsi cuisine
Dorabjee and Sons
Evidently, Dorabjee and Sons, Pune's oldest Parsi restaurant, established in 1878, fits the bill. Even as the ever-smiling and affable present day owner Darius Dorabjee, a member of the fourth generation since the restaurant first made a place for itself both in Sarbatwala Chowk, in Camp, Pune, as well as the hearts of discerning Punekars accepted the honor, he is simple testimony to the sheer power of staying true to one's roots. Not to forget the time-honored recipes. The menu is limited but classic-and guaranteed to hit the spot. The decor is similarly modest—no need to be anything else when the food is this superlative. We recommend the mutton cutlets, sali boti, dhansak, mutton biryani and the uber delicious lagan nu custard.
Lovers of fried chicken, the farcha is legendary. The scrambled eggs or Akuri, kheema, bheja and Parsi Poro don't lag behind either.
Summing up the secret of their enduring success, Darius says that consistency of quality over 141 years is at the heart and soul of all that they do. "I believe in being personally involved in the kitchen and to maintain the standard of purchases. Retaining the old-world charm and the ode to tradition is very, very important to us. We still cook on charcoal and are faithful to all our recipes passed on by our forefathers."
Also read: 5 ways Parsi cuisine evolved in India
One of the latest entrants on the scene, the Bawa is located at Viman Nagar. While they serve the usual Parsi classics, the ambience is particularly winsome and perfect for a sit-down dinner. They serve an all-day breakfast menu too. "What is nice is that while they have other items on the menu, they are faithful to the original taste of a Parsi kitchen," says city-based artist Sherry Irani. "A thumbs-up from me."
Walk in anytime between 8 am and 11.30 pm.
Cafe Hormuz, Viman Nagar
It is a tiny little space with just a few tables—but the food is memorable to a fault. And it ranks right on top as far as the cozy quotient goes! From the kharu bheja to the Akoori Patties, both dishes stand their ground for authenticity. The fish dishes are lovely too—and the Nowuz Faludeh or Falooda is rich and thick and all things perfect. Home-maker Anahita Cursetji would recommend this place "for those moments of you that aren't in a hurry. There is something very sweet and old world about this place."
Open between 9 am and 11 pm.
Also read: Khattu, meethu, teekho and other tales from the Parsi kitchen
Rustom Battliwala, Baner
What really takes the mood several notches higher is that the interiors of this all-day diner are similar to the vintage Parsi cafes of erstwhile Bombay. Try the Irani chai and bun, not to forget their pulaos and dals. "I think the location of the place is perfect as Baner is an up and coming area of town-and pretty close to Mumbai too. The food is a winner, do visit," says IT professional Firdaus Irani.
Open between 9.30 and 11.30 am.
Zamu's, Dhole Patil Road
Sizzlers on the weekdays, and Parsi food on festive days and weekends—including Dhanshak and Sali Boti, Patra nimachi, Mutton pulau,Sali Boti and farcha. So yes, the dal is a bit sweet but as proud bawa visitor Youhan Mubaraki will have you know, authentic Parsi dal is like that.
Open between 12-3 pm and 7-11 pm.
Jamjoji (Sachapir Street, Camp)
If you're wondering about the unusual name, it literally means "please eat well". Take your pick from fried Bangra to Papeta ma gosh (mutton gravy cooked with tomatoes and potatoes) and Sasni machi. They also offer you tiffin service through the week.
Open between 11: 30 am and 11 pm.
King's Resto Bar, East Street
Operational since 1905, The Parsi-Irani decor is a lesson in culture, while the sali boti and patrani machhi can give the proudest Parsi matron stiff competition in the culinary sweep stakes. The Lagan Nu custard is yummy too.
Open between 12 and 3 pm and 7 to 11 pm.
Open between 12-3 pm and 7-11 pm.
Where Else Diner, Vimannagar
The brainchild of restaurateurs Ardesh and Daizy Rustomjee, the USP of this place is twofold. First, it serves Parsi bhonu par excellence on weekends. Next, it's a pet friendly cafe with several cats relaxing in the outdoor section. The kheema patties are epic as is the Papeta par cheese( a Parsi take on cheese garlic frees). Tamto par Eeda and Sali Margi/Boti are competent too. But this writer's favorite has to be the satisfyingly creamy akoori.
Open from 12 pm to 10.45 pm, they are closed on Tuesdays. Call 020 41210613 / 7219268752.
Also read: After Pune, check out LF's guide to lip-smacking Parsi food in Mumbai
Rustom Restaurant (Fashion street, MG Road)
First things first. They do home deliveries, that are quick and efficient. Take your pick from the age-old favorites, but we especially recommend the tangy prawn sukha-Kolmi no patio and mutton cutlets. The half kg mutton biryani is value for money. PS: They all serve Raspberry Soda also called Icily, another bawa favorite. "This is a lovely accompaniment with your food, and never mind all the bad press given to aerated drinks," rounds off Youhan Mubaraki.
Banner Picture credit: Instagram/Bawa Zest by Cheron
Other images: Daisy and Ardeshir Rustomjee