Hardcore foodies have been witnessing a welcome addition to their list of ‘eateries’ in Mumbai. You would be forgiven if you were to think that I am talking about another restaurant. No, another joint has not opened up in our already spoilt-for-choice city. It’s another ‘door’ that has opened to welcome you to authentic regional food. Here is to break the suspense – Mumbai has, over the past one year, seen a burgeoning of enthusiasts who throw open their homes to complete strangers for a taste of regional food. Savour fishes cooked in the Assamese style in an Assamese home, or veggies from an Oriya kitchen in an Oriya household – with the exact spices, ingredients and cooking style handed down for generations, your search for authentic regional food in Mumbai ends with such Home Kitchens or Community Dining Kitchens. One amongst them is The Bohri Kitchen, for Bohri food.
Tucked away in a 19th century building in Colaba which is easy to locate in your Google Maps, The Bohri Kitchen, belongs to the Kapadia mother-son duo. As you smoothen your dress after parking your car at 50 Wodehouse Road, you look towards the 2nd floor of Orient Building. Vintage all right, you find telling yourself, and can’t wait to get in, be it to explore the vintage building or the menu for that Saturday afternoon.
Sure enough, you find yourself climbing wooden stairs made centuries ago, holding old-fashioned teak and wrought-iron balustrades, careful not to make any noise, lest the reverie-like moment is disturbed. The doorbell is answered by the tall and lanky Munaf Kapadia with a welcome grin, and he ushers you into their sprawling drawing-dining room that has furniture from another era, natural light streaming in, soft music playing and a big photo of the Bohri chieftain, Dr Syedna Mohammed Burhanuddin. Munaf is Nafisa Kapadia’s son, the lady, who in her fifties has decided to give wings to her gastronomical-entrepreneurial dreams through The Bohri Kitchen — a community dining experience straight from their dining room and from their famed community Thal. Told you we were excited! And curious!
We started with Nafisa Aunty’s refreshing and subtle, Mint-Ginger-Lemon-Ice Tea. One sip, and you will ensure that the glass stays with you for the rest of your time at the Kapadia house. Munaf does the round of introduction over the Ice Tea – explains that The Bohri Kitchen is his mother’s dream and that he wants to see her as a Food Consultant some day; that they open their house to strangers only on weekends over lunch (from around 12.30pm to 3pm for Rs 700 per guest); that the menu changes every week since Nafisa Aunty doesn’t like cooking the same meal over and over again; that even though people may think that The Bohri Kitchen is essentially all about non-veg food, his Mom can put a veg to shame with her awesome veg recipes; that the Thal in the Bohri Kitchen is symbolic, and food is served on big bowls on it so that guests can take their own helpings in their separate plates; and then offers to show us the kitchen where Aunty and her help are busy frying Mutton Kheema Samosa!
Listen. The Mutton Kheema Samosa is nothing like what you have had before. Stuffed with well spiced minced mutton, I was sure that I’d miss it sorely on rainy Mumbai evenings when you look out of the window with a mug of tea in your hands. We greedily ate about 3 samosas each and eyed the plate for the rest of the time…
Did you know that Bohri meals actually start with desserts? At the Bohri Kitchen though, they have juggled the line-up in order to cater to guests from every community. Hence, they keep the dessert for the last. However, we were fortunate enough to be there on the week of the Mohammed’s birthday and aunty had made Karamra for us, a dessert made with tiny grains of rice and curd and sprinkled with nuts and pomegranates. I was, mincing no words, completely bowled over by this exquisite dish. So light and so exquisite, I can go back to The Bohri Kitchen even if they were to serve me only Karamra.
After the Karamra, came Mutton Undhiyu served with paranthas. Lovers of non-veg, here is reason to rejoice – Undhiyu (which you so far detested for being veg) at the Kapadia household is cooked with Mutton and is that one dish that can alone complete your meal. Served piping hot with awesome Paranthas, you will be faced with a tough choice – whether to listen to your heart that will keep telling you to take helpings upon helpings, or to listen to your mind which will reason with you that there is another dish yet to come. The Chicken Rosht.
The Chicken Rosht was a fitting end to an overwhelmingly tasty and filling spread. Cooked with potates and boiled eggs and served with bread, you’d be amazed how Nafisa Aunty uses her ingredients in just the right proportions to strike that perfect taste and flavor that keeps you longing for more. But now, even your heart starts admonishing you with a loud ‘No More’!
After all of the above, Aunty still brought in generous quantities of Jalebi and Dahi, and Sewaiyaan. And then, there were Paan. We, shameless, ate them all, and surreptitiously peeked at Munaf’s room, wishing the family had opened their bedrooms too so that we could take a nap after such a scrumptious and sumptuous meal!!
Scrumptious and sumptuous indeed, that I have written an almost 900-word account of our elaborate and exquisite experience at The Bohri Kitchen is proof enough that we LOVED it there. We strongly recommend you to go there too, and partake in the Bohri ambrosia made by the lady whose chief ingredient for all her dishes is, love.
For contact details, find The Bohri Kitchen at — https://www.facebook.com/thebohrikitchen