Britannia & Co. is a Parsi cuisine restaurant in the business district of Ballard Estate in Fort, Mumbai. The experience of going to Britannia & Co. and see the restaurant itself was very fun. Britannia & Co. was founded by Rashid Kohinoor in 1923. In the same year, his son Boman, the current proprietor, was born. I found a blog post about Britannia & Co.“Bombay To Sonapur Hai” written on “Irani Chai, Mumbai” blog which was referenced in CNN Travel article. It is a great interview from which you can learn about a piece of Parsi history in Mumbai, India through the words of Boman Kohinoor.
Parsis in Mumbai
The Parsis, which literally means Persians in Persian langue, are one of the two Zoroastrian communities found in India who originally emigrated from Greater Iran. Around the 8th and 10th century (specific date is unknown), the Zoroastrians emigrated to India to avoid the religious persecution which took place in Iran. During the British Raj in Mumbai, the Parsis in Gujarat came to Mumbai for new opportunities and environment and settled. The Parsis had contributed greatly to the industrialization and commercial development of the city of Mumbai.
The Parsi cafe culture flourished once in Mumbai, but gradually it died down and now there are about 30+ Parsi restaurants listed in Mumbai. My Japanese friends who came to visit and stayed with me in Mumbai read in a Japanese guide book about the Parsi history in Mumbai and told me that they would love to check out a Parsi restaurant. It just happened that I remembered seeing two Parsi and Irani cafes in the Mumbai City Guideon Design*Sponge written by my favorite Indian blogger Sheena of This Is Sheena.
There were two choices of Parsi and Irani restaurants listed on the Mumbai City Guide by Sheena: Kyani and Britannia. Based on the area we were in that morning and for our convenience, I picked Britannia. I have heard of Britannia from my friends, so I have been curious about it as well.
We ordered Mutton Berry Pulav, Sali Chicken and Chapati. When we sat down first at the table, we looked over to the table next to us because two business men were eating very delicious looking Pulav. Basically we asked the waiter that we wanted to try the same dish as the table next to us. The Mutton Pulav looked very similar to an Indian Biryani, but the sweetness from the dried berries made the difference.
Boman Kohinoor, the current proprietor of Britannia & Co., is 92 years old (or 93) this year (photo above). We had a lovely chat with friendly Boman Kohinoor, who came to our table while we were ordering. He first asked if we were Japanese. He then went away and brought a laminated magazine article of a review of Britannia & Co. written in Japanese published in Japan. Apparently his wife spoke Japanese who has passed away and he told us she would’ve spoken with us in Japanese. Then he brought laminated letters from the offices of Queen of England and George Bush Senior thanking him for his food during their visits. I could tell how Britannia & Co. has been appreciated by many visitors in Mumbai as well as the locals. I presume that Boman is at work everyday and speak to his customers. He is probably as famous as the restaurant. I salute to his passion and dedication to his restaurant. Maybe the key to stay young and happy for him is to work and be involved with what he loves to do.
I got an idea of taking a photo like this above from the upper level as the magazine article about Britannia & Co. which Bowman showed us had a beautiful photo taken from there.
Britannia & Co. Restaurant
Ballard Estate, Opp New Custom House
Mumbai, Maharashtra 400001
TEL:022 2261 5264
Hours: 11:30 am – 4:00 pm
We had a hard time finding Britannia & Co. with a temporary driver who did not know where Britannia & Co. was located. I am afraid I had a wrong map I pulled from a Facebook page which made us confused. The one below is from the Google Map. The key is to find the Tiger Gate Naval Dock Yard on Shoorji Vallabhdas Road and take a left at the circle. You’ll see the restaurant on your right with a huge tree on the left like in the photo below the map. The street view of the restaurant is the photo on the bottom. I hope these will help!