When Parsi communities migrated to Mumbai in the year 1890, there was a king by the name Jadi Rana. The king refused them to migrate into the capital city, Bombay. He said: “My area is full and I don’t have any space for outsiders too.” Then one of the Parsi priests bought a bowl of milk and some sugar. He put a handful of sugar directly into the milk bowl. The sugar soon dissolved preventing the milk to overflow. This was the priest’s way of explaining that just as the sugar dissolved in the milk, the Parsis could also mingle with his community. After that, in no time they fell in love with the city and the city became their only home in the country. When they were comfortable with the city, they started many Parsi restaurants and cafés. One such restaurant is Britannia & Co. Located on the south Mumbai, Britannia & Co. was established in the year 1923. Rashid Kohinoor, a Zoroastrian immigrant from Iran started this restaurant.
Today, the restaurant is owned by Mr Boman Kohinoor. A 95-year-old Boman Kohinoor is an interesting person. He has a keen sense of humor and loves to chat with his customers.
If you come to this place you will surely fall in love with this man. He is a big fan of British royal family and always had a dream to meet the Royal family members. When the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Prince William and Kate Middleton came to India, a video went viral where Mr Boman Kohinoor was requesting to meet the prince and princess. Finally, he got the chance to meet them.
The iconic Britannia & Co. are most famous for their berry pulao. This was Mr Kohinoor’s wife’s dish.The other famous cuisines here are the Sali Boti, Basmati Rice, Raspberry Soda, Ice Cream Soda, Lemonade and the Caramel Custard. It was said that the food here was once as good as the Taj and the Trident.The high ceilings, tiled flooring and the Italian marble top tables are still the same as it was before. The place will surely take you back in time.
There are few interesting facts about Britannia & Co. and Mr Kohinoor. Both of them share the same birth year. The building was designed by the same architect who has designed the Gateway of India. During the World War II, when the Britishers came to India, they wanted this place for their official work and Mr Kohinoor handed the key to the Britishers on the condition that after the war had ended, they would have to give him back the premises.
According to the latest population survey of India, they are only 69,000 Parsis left in India and they are declining at the rate of 12%. The most beloved, charming and eccentric community; the community that has a great sense of humour and that always believe in good deeds, are facing the real-time danger of extinction.Tracing the oldest Parsis’ restaurant in Mumbai, Pune, I met Mr Boman Kohinoor, a 95-year-old who loves British royal family and has a great sense of humor. There are many more such people whose stories is being ignored. We want these cafes and restaurant to last and we want this community to last. Britannia & Co. is a beautiful place to have your lunch. Go and have some berry pulao and pick up some talk with Mr Boman Kohinoor.