When in Bombay, eat ice-cream for breakfast.

Internet Dating. I haven´t tried it, probably never will. But I´ve come pretty close. It usually starts with an innocuous comment on a post, followed by e-mails and before you know it I´m standing on a street corner in a carefully chosen outfit scanning the crowd for my Potential New Blogger Friend.  This is pretty much how I found myself in Crawford Market, Bombay waiting for local foodie Shaheen Peerbhai.

Crawford market, a Norman-Gothic edifice completed in 1869 and purpotedly the first building in India to be lit by electricity is THE place in Bombay to get hard to find ingredients like figs, thai basil and the odd sheep. After showing my sister and I around the market, Shaheen hustled us off to Badshah*, to eat Falooda and Kulfi. For breakfast.

That was when I knew that this was someone I could be friends with.

How can you not like a person who feeds you ice-cream for breakfast?

An iced parfait of reduced milk and cardamom, often flavoured with saffron and pistachios Kulfi is just about the only Indian dessert that famed food writer Jeffrey Steingarten can stomach:

“Eight Indian dinners taught me that not every Indian dessert has the texture and taste of face cream. Far from it. Some have the texture and taste of tennis balls. These are named gulab jamun, which the menu described as a “light pastry made with dry milk and honey.” Rasmalai have the texture of day-old bubble gum and refuse to yield to the action of the teeth. On the brighter side, I often finished my kulfi, the traditional Indian ice cream…”

After a brief shopping tour we had lunch at Brittania & Co. It´s a somewhat dilapidated place, open since 1923 (but only for lunch), and having no website, or e-mail address. But Brittania & Co. (motto: there is no love greater than the love of eating) has been featured extensively in the international media; Saveur, Food & Wine , NYT , CNN and Frommers. To name just a few.

It´s renowned for its wallet friendly Parsee cuisine as well as its history and friendly proprieters. Bombay has a sizeable Parsee community, descendents of Zoroastrian refugees who fled persecution in Iran and settled in India. A tight knit community, they maintain their customs and traditions, such as taking their deceased to a “Tower of Silence” to be consumed by vultures, and, more luckily for us, their culinary heritage. Brittania is famous for such traditional Parsee dishes as Patra ni machchi (fish with a coriander coconut sauce), Berry Pulao (an Indian interpretation of the Iranian clasic) and Sali Chicken (chicken curry topped topped with potato matchsticks – Genius!). For dessert, I HIGHLY recommend the creme caramel.

We spent the rest of the afternoon driving around Bombay in a food induced stupor, stopping for some pre-dinner snacks at Phoenix Mills (Bombay street food made to foreigner friendly hygiene standards!)…

…. and finishing with a fantastic South Indian dinner at Banana Leaf.

Shaheen, thank you so much for showing me around your city!


152/156 Lokmanya Tilak Marg,
Kala Ghoda, Mumbai 400001, India
Tel: 23421943, 23449316, 23425950

Brittania & Co.

Wakefield House, 11 Sprott Road,

16 Ballard Estate,

Colaba, Mumbai

Tel: 22615264

* Here is some random trivia that I found on the blog Only Mumbai. It may or may not be true, but that really doesn´t matter because it´s such a cute story:

“Badshah store is named after B. A. Badshah. He operated seven fruit juice shops in Mumbai during the early 1900s. He was a kind man and a wonderful employer. He died at a young age of 38 without any kids. In his will he left each of his seven shops with once of his loyal servants. Badshah at Crawford Market was inherited by Merwan Jehangir Irani – then manager of the place. He has employed a 12 year Iranian immigrant for cleaning help. Mr. Irani was impressed with the boy’s ethics. When the boy grew up, he married his daughter Yasmin with the boy and handed the shop over to the couple. Aspi passed away in 1996, and Yasimin ran the should with her daughter Behnaz’s husband. They also have opened a shop in Pune.”

7 Responses to “When in Bombay, eat ice-cream for breakfast.”
  1. masked food lover says:

    This internet food dating seems amazing. You’re right ice cream for breakfast is the sign of a great mind (and stomach). I love the photos, especially to chicken seller. He looks so proud of his “beautiful” chickens ! And what a cool pose ! Can’t wait to see some more photos of your trip !
    Masked food lover

  2. Love the motto “there is no love greater than the love of eating” (it is a good love) and I always enjoy wait staff in bow ties. Also, I am intrigued by the vultures. It seems to make more sense than rotting away in a box. Just my humble opinion…

  3. Kalyan says:

    Lovely travelogue. In fact even I joke about the fact that my first two internet blind dates are two food loving Bong men. Met lot of nice people and made friends thanks to blogging…including Shaheen 🙂 She took you to good places

    Hope you had a good trip

    • Como Solo says:

      Actually Kalyan, I was staying with Soumik and Mithu! A dinner with you was the only thing missing from my visit, I guess I´ll have to make another trip…

  4. Maddie says:

    Debs, I totally drank this post in—the colors and the flavors jumped off the page. Glad you got to meet Shaheen…and now you’re tempting me to make a trip halfway around the world, too!

  5. you were in Mumbai! Would have loved to meet you!!

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