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Yazdani Bakery's bun maska and  irani chai


Yazdani Bakery and Restaurant, Mumbai

Yazdani Bakery is one of the oldest Iranian cafes in Mumbai. What are generally called the Irani cafes are Iranian or Persian style cafes established in Mumbai more than a century ago when these communities first got a foothold in Mumbai.  They were originally opened by Persian immigrants to India in the 19th century. Though Parsi community first landed in western  India, it is Hyderabad which boasts of the largest number of Irani cafes. These cafes are very popular for their Irani chai, and their bakery products - brun butter (bun maska), toasts, mawa cakes, biscuits, etc. Most of these bakeries still use wood fired or diesel fired ovens  to bake their products.

In the hustle-bustle of the fast Mumbai life, and due to competition from the fast food joints (from McDonalds'es and the omnipresent vada-pav stalls) the Iranian cafes are left behind. Many of them have closed down or are changing into pubs and restaurants (e.g. Leopold cafe and Cafe Mondegar). Another very popular Irani eatery is the not-so-far century-old Kyani café, another heritage landmark in south Mumbai.

In his very popular work The Moor's last sigh, Salman Rushdie thus describes an Iranian cafe as a "Sorryno cafe" (so called because of the huge blackboard at the entrance reading Sorry, No liquor, No answer Given Regarding Addresses in Locality, No Combing of Hair...No Raising of Voice, No Change, and a crucial last pair, No Turning Down of Volume -- It Is How We Like, and No Musical Request -- All Melodies Selected Are to Taste of Prop)." A similar signboard outside an Irani cafe is available here. It's picked from a forwarded mail  - if it belongs to you, I would be happy to give you credit!

History of Irani cafes
Wikipedia thus describes the interesting historical origin of the Iranian cafes: "In an article in the Indian Express on “Irani cafés: Inheritance of loss”, Naomi Lobo has traced the background of these cafes as: “When the Zoroastrian Iranians came to India in the 19th century, they had no riches and were in search of a better livelihood. Mumbai (Bombay), at that time, was already home to another Zoroastrian community, the Parsis. A couple of Iranians worked in Parsi homes as caretakers and met in the evenings to discuss the life they had left behind, and their future prospects. One evening, a man served tea to everyone and charged them a small amount. The result: A business was born, of serving tea. And this was the beginning of an Irani café."

Iranian Tea
Iranian tea is essentially what is the normal Indian tea - black tea leaves/tea dust brewed in a combination of water and milk, often with more of milk and often spiced with fresh ginger. Often the Iranian tea, locally called the Irani chaai, will have more sugar as well. Another community from the western India, the Gujaratis, also prefer to prepare tea with a bit excess of sugar.
What are the Irani cafes like?
The structure of most Irani cafes' is similar - unpretentious and understated interiors with subtle colonial touch, high trussed ceilings with black wooden chairs, wooden tables with marble tops stained with years of tea spills. The visitors are served in the same area where the staff goes about their production and delivery chores. Since the baking also happens at the back side of the cafe's the whiff of baking fresh bread normally fills the air, especially in the morning hours. 

What should you order at the Yazdani?
Their cakes are the stuff to die for - from my personal favorite mawa cake, Apple Pie, Carrot Cake, Fiery Ginger biscuits, Oatmeal and Raisin cookies, besides the different types of freshly baked breads like Whole wheat bread, 7-grain bread.  The bun maska is frocking with the amount of butter they apply!

Other popular Irani Cafes in south of Mumbai include:
Britannia cafe
Kyani cafe


Images of the Yazdani Bakery:

Yazdani Restaurant and Bakery -1  

Yazdani Restaurant and Bakery - 2

Further reading:

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