Yazdani Bakery and
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 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:
Images of the Yazdani Bakery:
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