Free outdoor food festival to kick off 11-day programme

Free outdoor food festival to kick off 11-day programme

IT is one of the highlights of the year in Lymm.
And the 11-day Lymm Festival launches on Thursday, June 20, offering a spectacular programme of events.
Ann Johnstone is one of the organisers.
“I’m a bit like a swan – doing all my pedalling underwater,” Ann admits, “but everything is in hand. I organise Foodfest, which is the first event on our 11-day programme; it sets the tone for the whole festival. It’s like a giant outdoor café– serving street food with fun and free entertainment. Come rain or shine it goes ahead and we get thousands of outside visitors.”
Only local traders are permitted to have a stall at Foodfest. There are 17 taking part this year and each one gets two trestle tables from which to sell their wares – including Italian, Turkish, Indian and Chinese cuisine.
“We’ll be selling local ice cream from Cheshire Farm and possibly wraps,” says restaurant-owner Fikret Aslan, who has lived in Lymm for 11 years. “Lymm Festival is the best advert for Lymm businesses. There’s no substitute for having people able to come and physically try your food.”
Preparations for the festival began, as always, in September with the committee members only taking two months off throughout July and August. Ann is already looking forward to welcoming her son for a visit from Norway this summer, but there is much to be done before then.
“I’ve lived in Lymm since 1979 and it was a quainter, quieter village back then!” she recalls. “What hasn’t changed is the community spirit you see in action. We have around 50 festival volunteers – all of whom are unpaid. We bring a big group together – teachers, accountants, you name it – and use their skills from other areas of their lives.”
Ann’s own contribution makes best use of her expertise in PR and marketing. Having worked with the outdoor leisure industry in her professional life, she has already met one of the stars of the festival, the explorer Sir Ranulph Fiennes, who will be delivering a talk entitled ‘Living Dangerously’ at Statham Lodge on June 24.
“I’ve been to the Arctic Circle twice with a team of climbers including Rebecca Stephens, who is known for being the first British woman to reach the summit of Mount Everest. I met Sir Ranulph on a separate occasion – and although I don’t suppose he will remember me, I am very excited to hear his talk.” laughs Ann.
Ranulph Fiennes
Securing Sir Ranulph is a coup that the committee are very pleased with – having set their guest speaker sights high for the festival’s 21st year. Dubbed the ‘World’s Greatest Living Explorer’ by The Guinness Book of World Records in 1984, the British Army veteran shares top billing with former Communard The Reverend Richard Coles and Professor Michael Garrett, who is the director of the Jodrell Bank Centre for Astrophysics.
“We thought: ‘Who can we bring who will take things to the next level?’” says committee member Keith Halsall. “Our overall theme is ‘Exploration’ and we’ve got three fantastic people to embody that. I saw The Rev Coles at The Edinburgh Fringe last year; he really is very funny and his stories from the pulpit are every bit as shocking as they are from the world of pop music.”
Keith is also looking forward to Historic Transport Day taking place on June 23, which will include a flypast of the RAF’s last Dakota C47.
“I walk round the vehicles on the May Queen Field thinking: ‘I used to have one of those.’” laughs Keith, who is a former director of Performing Arts for the Arts Council for the North West. “What’s historic to some is living memory to me.”
Lymm Transport Day is a festival highlight
Keith has lived in the village since 1993 – having moved there so that his children could grow up being able to take a walk from their doorstep.
“There are a number of guided walks on the festival programme,” explains Keith, who has toured with theatre and opera companies all around the UK. “Lymm is very beautiful walking country; you see baby swans and ducks on the water. The Pennine Trail cuts straight through the village, which is a linear oasis of nature.
“We get runners and orienteers, walkers and canal boat owners coming to Lymm, so we wanted to create a programme that reflects the vibrancy of the village and the widespread interest people show in it.”
With more than 50 events including art exhibitions, live music and poetry secured on the bill, the committee members can feel proud of accomplishing their mission.
Others in Lymm appreciate that the festival acts as a showcase for the village to the outside world.
We find Raffi Der Haroutunian in Collect Art – a gallery at 29 The Cross, which is home to such notable pieces as a genuine LS Lowry (‘Two Figures in Snow’, 1968) and a £30k sculpture by Emma Rodgers entitled ‘Large Raging Bull’, which appeared in the Marvel movie Avengers: Age of Ultron.
The bull is on show
“Lymm is an incredible village,” says Raffi, who runs Blackmore Gallery, which is located inside Collect Art. “I worked here for 25 years; then after we had my little one, we moved from Manchester to be here. I want my kids to be brought up in a place like this.”
Art lovers would do well to take the opportunity of the festival to call in at Collect Art, which is home to stunning pieces that come under the umbrella of 20th century modern. As an agent to the estate of Theodore Major, who was a contemporary of Lowry, Collect Art offers the opportunity to drink in his moody monochrome originals, as well as pieces by Ghislaine Howard, Geoffrey Key and Blek le Rat.
Over at ladieswear store Jessobel, Natalie Holt is also looking forward to the festival. A Wilmslow resident, she pops over to Lymm to help her friend Karen Taylor, who named the boutique after her daughters Jessica and Isobel, with Isobel being crowned this year’s Lymm May Queen.
“Someone has already been in to hide a clue on the treasure hunt,” smiles Natalie. “There’s a real sense of community here… you can feel it.”
Jessobel have recently introduced a new clothing line, Laurie & Joe, which is favoured by reality TV stars; however, the floaty beach dress Natalie points out retailing at £220 is an anomaly rather than the rule. “We offer current, on trend, wearable clothes at affordable prices,” she explains.
“Ladies like to go into the village for lunch and then pop in to see what’s new. We tend to only stock one of each size and one of each colour in every design so people aren’t wearing the same thing. The stock moves very quickly and we have a full range of accessories to complete your look.”
Whether visitors want to shop for high fashion, explore great works of art or simply to lose themselves in a calendar of activities for people of all ages, Lymm Festival is the perfect springboard to discover the “very nice village” that Ann Johnstone calls “home”.
“We want to deliver a great festival, but that’s only one event on our calendar,” she adds. “From the Duck Race and May Queen to the Lymm Dickensian Christmas Festival, there’s always something happening here.”

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Parsi Cafes, A Centuries-Old Tradition In India, Are Vanishing

Parsi Cafes, A Centuries-Old Tradition In India, Are Vanishing By Rebecca Rosman • 7 hours ago Boman Kohinoor, 97, has spent the past eight decades committed to his beloved Britannia & Co., one of Mumbai’s last Parsi cafes. Here, he proudly holds up a photo of himself with two members of the British royal family: the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Prince William and the former Kate Middleton. Rebecca Rosman for NPR / Originally published on June 2, 2019 1:55 pm
The brown walls are peeling at all ends. Giant paint chips cake the ceiling. And the cash register — if you can call it that — is just a series of old wooden drawers.
“I’m going to put up a sign that says ‘Enter at your own risk.’ Otherwise someone is going to hold me liable,” says Romin Kohinoor, one of the owners of the nearly century-oldBritannia & Co., one of Mumbai’s last Parsi cafes.
Luckily for Kohinoor, these quirky interiors have long been seen as more of an attraction than a liability.
Parsi cafes like Britannia & Co. started popping up around Mumbai in the late 19th century. They were founded by Parsis — Zoroastrians who fled religious persecution in their native Persia. The cafes became popular among many in India because, in a society where caste systems and long-standing taboos remain omnipresent, these cafes offered a place where various parts of Indian society mingled freely.
They are, in a word, cosmopolitan. They are also, in two words, dying out.
One of the world’s oldest religions, Zoroastrianism began thousands of years ago in what is now Iran, and the faith predates Islam. A central ethical tenet of the faith is to promote “good words, good thoughts and good deeds.” The Zoroastrian migrants brought to India not only their religious traditions but also their unique cuisine, offering a table to people of all classes, religions and ethnicities in an atmosphere scented with Iranian and Gujarati spices. Parsi cafes are emblems of tolerance, a core teaching of the Prophet Zoroaster, and their affordable food and snug tables attest to their place as servers of the common man.
At one point, there were around 400 Parsi cafes scattered across Mumbai. Today, there are less than 40.
A dwindling Parsi population, combined with little interest from newer generations to take over these family-owned businesses, means that there may not be any Parsi cafes in just a few decades.
But Britannia & Co. has a secret to standing strong amid a sea of dying neighbors: the 97-year-old owner, Boman Kohinoor, who has spent the past eight decades committed to his beloved cafe. On one wall of Britannia & Co. is a portrait of Queen Elizabeth II. Next to her is a painting of Gandhi. Each serves as a reminder of the cafe’s unique cultural heritage. Rebecca Rosman for NPR
“They say habit is second nature,” the bespectacled owner tells me over a generous plate of chicken berry pulao, the restaurant’s signature dish. “And habit has kept me coming here every day now for the last 80 years.”
Every day during the busy lunch hour, Kohinoor slowly makes his way around each table to partake in one of his favorite activities: schmoozing. Current favorite topics include the British monarchy, U.S. politics and his longevity plans. (He plans on breaking the Guinness World Record for oldest living person.)
India was still under British rule when Kohinoor’s father opened the cafe in 1923, which inspired the cafe’s name. “My father wanted to please the local commissioner, who was handing out leases at the time,” says Kohinoor.
When the restaurant opened, the menu consisted mostly of lighter European fare. It wasn’t until after independence from the British in 1947 that Kohinoor decided to revamp the menu, adding a slew of Iranian comfort food options that have since become the favorites here — dishes like sali boti, a lamb curry stewed with tomatoes, jaggery and onions and topped with fried potato strings.
Or the chicken berry pulao — moist chunks of chicken cooked in a fragrant tomato sauce, mixed with a rice pilaf and garnished with Iranian sour barberries. Downed with a fresh lime soda and crème caramel, it’s hard not to indulge.
Most items on the menu today follow the original recipes of Kohinoor’s late wife, Bacha — and they remain a fiercely guarded secret.
A small black-and-white photo of Bacha hangs on the wall alongside the restaurant’s entrance. On the other side of the room is a portrait of Queen Elizabeth II next to a painting of Gandhi. Several depictions of the Prophet Zoroaster, cloaked in white robes, are also on display. Each serves as a reminder of the cafe’s unique cultural heritage. Chicken berry pulao is the signature dish at Britannia & Co. Rebecca Rosman for NPR
Zoroastrians started arriving in India around 1,300 years ago to escape religious persecution from Arab invaders in their native Persia. By the mid-20th century, around 120,000 Parsis lived in India. Today there are less than half that. Zoroastrians don’t believe in conversion, making it hard to keep the religion alive.
But the more immediate problem for families like Kohinoor’s is a generational one.
Younger generations don’t want to inherit the long hours — and the risk of low returns — that come with running a restaurant.
“I’m only doing this for my dad,” admits Kohinoor’s 58-year-old son Romin, who has been working the register at Britannia & Co. for four decades. “He doesn’t want to close this place down. He doesn’t want to sell it at all.”
Romin has a 27-year-old daughter, Diana, who comes in at the end of each day to do the restaurant’s books.
She was studying law at university but didn’t really like it.
Now, “I would not want it to end because of me. So let’s take it forward,” she says.
But with her grandfather still going strong, her promotion from accountant to owner may be a while. Copyright 2019 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org. © 2019 WDIY

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Parsi Cafes, A Centuries-Old Tradition In India, Are Vanishing

Parsi Cafes, A Centuries-Old Tradition In India, Are Vanishing By Rebecca Rosman • 8 hours ago Boman Kohinoor, 97, has spent the past eight decades committed to his beloved Britannia & Co., one of Mumbai’s last Parsi cafes. Here, he proudly holds up a photo of himself with two members of the British royal family: the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Prince William and the former Kate Middleton. Rebecca Rosman for NPR / Originally published on June 2, 2019 10:55 am
The brown walls are peeling at all ends. Giant paint chips cake the ceiling. And the cash register — if you can call it that — is just a series of old wooden drawers.
“I’m going to put up a sign that says ‘Enter at your own risk.’ Otherwise someone is going to hold me liable,” says Romin Kohinoor, one of the owners of the nearly century-oldBritannia & Co., one of Mumbai’s last Parsi cafes.
Luckily for Kohinoor, these quirky interiors have long been seen as more of an attraction than a liability.
Parsi cafes like Britannia & Co. started popping up around Mumbai in the late 19th century. They were founded by Parsis — Zoroastrians who fled religious persecution in their native Persia. The cafes became popular among many in India because, in a society where caste systems and long-standing taboos remain omnipresent, these cafes offered a place where various parts of Indian society mingled freely.
They are, in a word, cosmopolitan. They are also, in two words, dying out.
One of the world’s oldest religions, Zoroastrianism began thousands of years ago in what is now Iran, and the faith predates Islam. A central ethical tenet of the faith is to promote “good words, good thoughts and good deeds.” The Zoroastrian migrants brought to India not only their religious traditions but also their unique cuisine, offering a table to people of all classes, religions and ethnicities in an atmosphere scented with Iranian and Gujarati spices. Parsi cafes are emblems of tolerance, a core teaching of the Prophet Zoroaster, and their affordable food and snug tables attest to their place as servers of the common man.
At one point, there were around 400 Parsi cafes scattered across Mumbai. Today, there are less than 40.
A dwindling Parsi population, combined with little interest from newer generations to take over these family-owned businesses, means that there may not be any Parsi cafes in just a few decades.
But Britannia & Co. has a secret to standing strong amid a sea of dying neighbors: the 97-year-old owner, Boman Kohinoor, who has spent the past eight decades committed to his beloved cafe. On one wall of Britannia & Co. is a portrait of Queen Elizabeth II. Next to her is a painting of Gandhi. Each serves as a reminder of the cafe’s unique cultural heritage. Rebecca Rosman for NPR
“They say habit is second nature,” the bespectacled owner tells me over a generous plate of chicken berry pulao, the restaurant’s signature dish. “And habit has kept me coming here every day now for the last 80 years.”
Every day during the busy lunch hour, Kohinoor slowly makes his way around each table to partake in one of his favorite activities: schmoozing. Current favorite topics include the British monarchy, U.S. politics and his longevity plans. (He plans on breaking the Guinness World Record for oldest living person.)
India was still under British rule when Kohinoor’s father opened the cafe in 1923, which inspired the cafe’s name. “My father wanted to please the local commissioner, who was handing out leases at the time,” says Kohinoor.
When the restaurant opened, the menu consisted mostly of lighter European fare. It wasn’t until after independence from the British in 1947 that Kohinoor decided to revamp the menu, adding a slew of Iranian comfort food options that have since become the favorites here — dishes like sali boti, a lamb curry stewed with tomatoes, jaggery and onions and topped with fried potato strings.
Or the chicken berry pulao — moist chunks of chicken cooked in a fragrant tomato sauce, mixed with a rice pilaf and garnished with Iranian sour barberries. Downed with a fresh lime soda and crème caramel, it’s hard not to indulge.
Most items on the menu today follow the original recipes of Kohinoor’s late wife, Bacha — and they remain a fiercely guarded secret.
A small black-and-white photo of Bacha hangs on the wall alongside the restaurant’s entrance. On the other side of the room is a portrait of Queen Elizabeth II next to a painting of Gandhi. Several depictions of the Prophet Zoroaster, cloaked in white robes, are also on display. Each serves as a reminder of the cafe’s unique cultural heritage. Chicken berry pulao is the signature dish at Britannia & Co. Rebecca Rosman for NPR
Zoroastrians started arriving in India around 1,300 years ago to escape religious persecution from Arab invaders in their native Persia. By the mid-20th century, around 120,000 Parsis lived in India. Today there are less than half that. Zoroastrians don’t believe in conversion, making it hard to keep the religion alive.
But the more immediate problem for families like Kohinoor’s is a generational one.
Younger generations don’t want to inherit the long hours — and the risk of low returns — that come with running a restaurant.
“I’m only doing this for my dad,” admits Kohinoor’s 58-year-old son Romin, who has been working the register at Britannia & Co. for four decades. “He doesn’t want to close this place down. He doesn’t want to sell it at all.”
Romin has a 27-year-old daughter, Diana, who comes in at the end of each day to do the restaurant’s books.
She was studying law at university but didn’t really like it.
Now, “I would not want it to end because of me. So let’s take it forward,” she says.
But with her grandfather still going strong, her promotion from accountant to owner may be a while. Copyright 2019 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.
LULU GARCIA-NAVARRO, HOST:
Mumbai, India, has been at the crossroads of cultures for millennia. In the 19th century, refugees from Iran fleeing religious persecution opened what came to be called Parsi cafes. At one point, there were 400 of them. Today, there are fewer than 40. Rebecca Rosman visited one of the last Parsi cafes.
REBECCA ROSMAN, BYLINE: The first thing you notice when you walk into Britannia & Co., one of Mumbai’s most popular Parsi cafes, is that the place is kind of falling apart. Giant paint chips cake the ceiling. The brown walls are peeling. And the cash register, if you can call it that, is just a series of old wooden drawers.
ROMIN KOHINOOR: Very old-fashioned, very old-fashioned, see. And I don’t want to change it because I’ve got so used to it.
ROSMAN: Fifty-eight-year-old Romin Kohinoor has been working behind this register for four decades.
R KOHINOOR: This is my grandfather’s counter bell.
(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)
R KOHINOOR: It’s 98 years old, and it is made from British gun metal. See the echo. See the echo.
(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)
R KOHINOOR: Even the restaurant is very old-fashioned – 96 years old. It’s all peeling out. It’s all dropping. I’m going to put up a board now that you enter at own risk because if something happens, somebody’ll hold me liable.
ROSMAN: Luckily for Kohinoor, these quirky interiors are seen as more of an attraction than a liability and so is the food – Iranian comfort food. One of the most popular menu items is a dish called chicken berry pulao – a rice pilaf topped with moist chunks of chicken and stewed in a fragrant tomato sauce, garnished with sour barberries, giving the dish a sweet and sour punch, and served with fresh lime soda. But one of the biggest draws here is the owner.
BOMAN KOHINOOR: I come here every day from 12 o’clock till 4:30. I have been coming here now nearly about 80 years.
ROSMAN: That’s Romin’s 97-year-old father Boman Kohinoor. Boman’s father opened the restaurant in 1923. But every day since Boman was about 16, the chattier Kohinoor has slowly made his way around each table to partake in one of his favorite activities – schmoozing. Today’s topics for the endearing owner include Hillary Clinton, the British monarchy and his longevity plans.
B KOHINOOR: You know, the oldest man in the world, he died one year ago. How old was he? One hundred Forty-Six.
ROSMAN: One hundred forty-six.
ROSMAN: Oh, in Indonesia.
B KOHINOOR: Indonesia – I’m going to break his record.
ROSMAN: Kohinoor’s great-grandparents came to Mumbai more than 180 years ago after fleeing religious persecution from the dominant religion in Persia – Islam. They were Zoroastrians, one of the oldest religions in the world, founded on three main principles.
B KOHINOOR: Good thoughts, good words and good deeds.
ROSMAN: The hundreds of thousands of Zoroastrians who fled to India became known as Parsis. And in the 19th century, many started opening up these cafes. Now most are gone.
B KOHINOOR: In another 20 years or 30 years, there won’t be none.
ROSMAN: The Parsi population is dwindling. Today in India, there are just over 60,000 Parsis. You have to be born into the religion. Zoroastrians don’t believe in conversion. But the more immediate problem for families like Kohinoor’s is a generational one. Younger people don’t want to inherit the long hours and risk of low returns that come with running a restaurant. Even Boman’s 58-year-old son Romin Kohinoor admits he is only helping to keep the business going for one reason.
R KOHINOOR: I’m doing this only for my dad. He doesn’t want to close this place down. He doesn’t want to sell it out. I’m doing it just for him.
ROSMAN: Romin has a 27-year-old daughter Diana. She comes in at the end of each day to do the restaurant’s books, a job that requires a computer, meaning it’s too techie for anyone else in the family. Diana was studying law at university but didn’t really like it. I asked if she would have any interest in taking over the family business.
DIANA KOHINOOR: I would like to because we make good money out here. It’s like a set business. It’s there since 1923, and I would not want it to end because of me. So let’s take it ahead – forward.
ROSMAN: But with her grandfather still going strong, her promotion from accountant to owner may take a while.
For NPR News, I’m Rebecca Rosman in Mumbai. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR. © 2019 Valley Public Radio

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Parsi Cafes, A Centuries-Old Tradition In India, Are Vanishing

Parsi Cafes, A Centuries-Old Tradition In India, Are Vanishing By Rebecca Rosman • 1 hour ago Boman Kohinoor, 97, has spent the last eight decades committed to his beloved Britannia and Co, one of Mumbai’s last Parsi cafés. Here, he proudly holds up a photo of himself with two members of the British royal family: the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Prince William and the former Kate Middleton. Rebecca Rosman for NPR
The brown walls are peeling at all ends. Giant paint chips cake the ceiling. And the cash register — if you can call it that — is just a series of old wooden drawers.
“I’m going to put up a sign that says enter at your own risk, otherwise someone is going to hold me liable,” says Romin Kohinoor, one of the owners of the nearly century-oldBritannia and Co., one of Mumbai’s last Parsi cafés.
Luckily for Kohinoor, these quirky interiors have long been seen as more of an attraction than a liability.
Parsi cafés like Britannia and Co. started popping up around Mumbai in the late 19th century. They were founded by Parsis — Zoroastrians who fled religious persecution in their native Persia. But they became popular among many in India because, in a society where caste systems and longstanding taboos remain omnipresent, these cafes offered a place where various parts of Indian society mingled freely.
They are, in a word, cosmopolitan. They are also, in two words, dying out.
One of the world’s oldest religions, Zoroastrianism began thousands of years ago in what is now Iran and pre-dates Islam. A central ethical tenet of the faith is to promote “good words, good thoughts and good deeds.” The Zoroastrian migrants brought to India not only their religious traditions but also their unique cuisine, offering a table to people of all classes, religions and ethnicities in an atmosphere scented with Iranian and Gujarati spices. Parsi cafes are emblems of tolerance, a core teaching of the prophet Zoroaster, and their affordable food and snug tables attest to their place as servers of the common man.
At one point, there were around 400 Parsi cafés scattered across Mumbai. Today, there are less than 40.
A dwindling Parsi population, combined with little interest from newer generations to take over these family-owned businesses, means that there may not be any Parsi cafés in just a few decades.
But Britannia and Co. has a secret to standing strong amidst a sea of dying neighbors: the 97-year-old owner, Boman Kohinoor, who has spent the last eight decades committed to his beloved café. On one wall of Britannia and Co. is a portrait of Queen Elizabeth II. Next to her is a painting of Gandhi. Each serves as a reminder of the café’s unique cultural heritage. Rebecca Rosman for NPR
“They say habit is second nature,” the bespectacled owner tells me over a generous plate of chicken berry pulao, the restaurant’s signature dish. “And habit has kept me coming here every day now for the last 80 years.”
Every day during the busy lunch hour, Kohinoor slowly makes his way around each table to partake in one of his favorite activities: schmoozing. Current favorite topics include the British monarchy, U.S. politics and his longevity plans. (He plans on breaking the Guinness World Record for oldest living person.)
India was still under British rule when Kohinoor’s father opened the café in 1923, which inspired the café’s name. “My father wanted to please the local commissioner, who was handing out leases at the time,” says Kohinoor.
When the restaurant opened, the menu consisted mostly of lighter, European fare. It wasn’t until after independence from the British in 1947 that Kohinoor decided to revamp the menu, adding in a slew of Iranian comfort food options that have since become the favorites here — dishes like Sali Boti , a lamb curry stewed with tomatoes, jaggery and onions, topped with fried potato strings.
Or the chicken berry pulao — moist chunks of chicken cooked in a fragrant tomato sauce, mixed with a rice pilaf and garnished with Iranian sour barberries. Downed with a fresh lime soda and crème caramel, it’s hard not to indulge.
Most items on the menu today follow the original recipes of Kohinoor’s late wife, Bacha — and they remain a fiercely guarded secret.
A small black and white photo of Bacha hangs on the wall alongside the restaurant’s entrance. On the other side of the room is a portrait of Queen Elizabeth II, next to a painting of Gandhi. Several depictions of the Prophet Zoroaster, cloaked in white robes, are also on display. Each serves as a reminder of the café’s unique cultural heritage. Chicken berry pulao is the signature dish at Britannia and Co. Rebecca Rosman for NPR
Zoroastrians started arriving in India around 1,300 years ago to escape religious persecution from Arab invaders in their native Persia. By the mid-20th century, there were around 120,000 Parsis living in India. Today there are less than half that. Zoroastrians don’t believe in conversion, making it hard to keep the religion alive.
But the more immediate problem for families like Kohinoor’s is a generational one.
Younger generations don’t want to inherit the long hours — and the risk of low returns — that come with running a restaurant.
“I’m only doing this for my dad,” admits Kohinoor’s 58-year-old son Romin, who has been working the register at Britannia and Co. for four decades. “He doesn’t want to close this place down. He doesn’t want to sell it at all.”
Romin has a 27-year-old daughter, Diana, who comes in at the end of each day to do the restaurant’s books.
She was studying law at university, but didn’t really like it.
Now, “I would not want it to end because of me. So let’s take it forward,” she says.
But with her grandfather still going strong, her promotion from accountant to owner may be a while. Copyright 2019 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org. © 2019 WBGO

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Parsi Cafes, A Centuries-Old Tradition In India, Are Vanishing

Parsi Cafes, A Centuries-Old Tradition In India, Are Vanishing By editor • 6 hours ago Boman Kohinoor, 97, has spent the past eight decades committed to his beloved Britannia & Co., one of Mumbai’s last Parsi cafes. Here, he proudly holds up a photo of himself with two members of the British royal family: the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Prince William and the former Kate Middleton. Rebecca Rosman for NPR / Originally published on June 2, 2019 10:55 am
The brown walls are peeling at all ends. Giant paint chips cake the ceiling. And the cash register — if you can call it that — is just a series of old wooden drawers.
“I’m going to put up a sign that says ‘Enter at your own risk.’ Otherwise someone is going to hold me liable,” says Romin Kohinoor, one of the owners of the nearly century-oldBritannia & Co., one of Mumbai’s last Parsi cafes.
Luckily for Kohinoor, these quirky interiors have long been seen as more of an attraction than a liability.
Parsi cafes like Britannia & Co. started popping up around Mumbai in the late 19th century. They were founded by Parsis — Zoroastrians who fled religious persecution in their native Persia. The cafes became popular among many in India because, in a society where caste systems and long-standing taboos remain omnipresent, these cafes offered a place where various parts of Indian society mingled freely.
They are, in a word, cosmopolitan. They are also, in two words, dying out.
One of the world’s oldest religions, Zoroastrianism began thousands of years ago in what is now Iran, and the faith predates Islam. A central ethical tenet of the faith is to promote “good words, good thoughts and good deeds.” The Zoroastrian migrants brought to India not only their religious traditions but also their unique cuisine, offering a table to people of all classes, religions and ethnicities in an atmosphere scented with Iranian and Gujarati spices. Parsi cafes are emblems of tolerance, a core teaching of the Prophet Zoroaster, and their affordable food and snug tables attest to their place as servers of the common man.
At one point, there were around 400 Parsi cafes scattered across Mumbai. Today, there are less than 40.
A dwindling Parsi population, combined with little interest from newer generations to take over these family-owned businesses, means that there may not be any Parsi cafes in just a few decades.
But Britannia & Co. has a secret to standing strong amid a sea of dying neighbors: the 97-year-old owner, Boman Kohinoor, who has spent the past eight decades committed to his beloved cafe. On one wall of Britannia & Co. is a portrait of Queen Elizabeth II. Next to her is a painting of Gandhi. Each serves as a reminder of the cafe’s unique cultural heritage. Rebecca Rosman for NPR
“They say habit is second nature,” the bespectacled owner tells me over a generous plate of chicken berry pulao, the restaurant’s signature dish. “And habit has kept me coming here every day now for the last 80 years.”
Every day during the busy lunch hour, Kohinoor slowly makes his way around each table to partake in one of his favorite activities: schmoozing. Current favorite topics include the British monarchy, U.S. politics and his longevity plans. (He plans on breaking the Guinness World Record for oldest living person.)
India was still under British rule when Kohinoor’s father opened the cafe in 1923, which inspired the cafe’s name. “My father wanted to please the local commissioner, who was handing out leases at the time,” says Kohinoor.
When the restaurant opened, the menu consisted mostly of lighter European fare. It wasn’t until after independence from the British in 1947 that Kohinoor decided to revamp the menu, adding a slew of Iranian comfort food options that have since become the favorites here — dishes like sali boti, a lamb curry stewed with tomatoes, jaggery and onions and topped with fried potato strings.
Or the chicken berry pulao — moist chunks of chicken cooked in a fragrant tomato sauce, mixed with a rice pilaf and garnished with Iranian sour barberries. Downed with a fresh lime soda and crème caramel, it’s hard not to indulge.
Most items on the menu today follow the original recipes of Kohinoor’s late wife, Bacha — and they remain a fiercely guarded secret.
A small black-and-white photo of Bacha hangs on the wall alongside the restaurant’s entrance. On the other side of the room is a portrait of Queen Elizabeth II next to a painting of Gandhi. Several depictions of the Prophet Zoroaster, cloaked in white robes, are also on display. Each serves as a reminder of the cafe’s unique cultural heritage. Chicken berry pulao is the signature dish at Britannia & Co. Rebecca Rosman for NPR
Zoroastrians started arriving in India around 1,300 years ago to escape religious persecution from Arab invaders in their native Persia. By the mid-20th century, around 120,000 Parsis lived in India. Today there are less than half that. Zoroastrians don’t believe in conversion, making it hard to keep the religion alive.
But the more immediate problem for families like Kohinoor’s is a generational one.
Younger generations don’t want to inherit the long hours — and the risk of low returns — that come with running a restaurant.
“I’m only doing this for my dad,” admits Kohinoor’s 58-year-old son Romin, who has been working the register at Britannia & Co. for four decades. “He doesn’t want to close this place down. He doesn’t want to sell it at all.”
Romin has a 27-year-old daughter, Diana, who comes in at the end of each day to do the restaurant’s books.
She was studying law at university but didn’t really like it.
Now, “I would not want it to end because of me. So let’s take it forward,” she says.
But with her grandfather still going strong, her promotion from accountant to owner may be a while. Copyright 2019 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org. © 2019 Valley Public Radio

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Parsi Cafes, A Centuries-Old Tradition In India, Are Vanishing

Parsi Cafes, A Centuries-Old Tradition In India, Are Vanishing By Rebecca Rosman • 6 hours ago Related Program: Weekend Edition Sunday Boman Kohinoor, 97, has spent the past eight decades committed to his beloved Britannia & Co., one of Mumbai’s last Parsi cafes. Here, he proudly holds up a photo of himself with two members of the British royal family: the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Prince William and the former Kate Middleton. Rebecca Rosman for NPR / Originally published on June 2, 2019 11:55 am
The brown walls are peeling at all ends. Giant paint chips cake the ceiling. And the cash register — if you can call it that — is just a series of old wooden drawers.
“I’m going to put up a sign that says ‘Enter at your own risk.’ Otherwise someone is going to hold me liable,” says Romin Kohinoor, one of the owners of the nearly century-oldBritannia & Co., one of Mumbai’s last Parsi cafes.
Luckily for Kohinoor, these quirky interiors have long been seen as more of an attraction than a liability.
Parsi cafes like Britannia & Co. started popping up around Mumbai in the late 19th century. They were founded by Parsis — Zoroastrians who fled religious persecution in their native Persia. The cafes became popular among many in India because, in a society where caste systems and long-standing taboos remain omnipresent, these cafes offered a place where various parts of Indian society mingled freely.
They are, in a word, cosmopolitan. They are also, in two words, dying out.
One of the world’s oldest religions, Zoroastrianism began thousands of years ago in what is now Iran, and the faith predates Islam. A central ethical tenet of the faith is to promote “good words, good thoughts and good deeds.” The Zoroastrian migrants brought to India not only their religious traditions but also their unique cuisine, offering a table to people of all classes, religions and ethnicities in an atmosphere scented with Iranian and Gujarati spices. Parsi cafes are emblems of tolerance, a core teaching of the Prophet Zoroaster, and their affordable food and snug tables attest to their place as servers of the common man.
At one point, there were around 400 Parsi cafes scattered across Mumbai. Today, there are less than 40.
A dwindling Parsi population, combined with little interest from newer generations to take over these family-owned businesses, means that there may not be any Parsi cafes in just a few decades.
But Britannia & Co. has a secret to standing strong amid a sea of dying neighbors: the 97-year-old owner, Boman Kohinoor, who has spent the past eight decades committed to his beloved cafe. On one wall of Britannia & Co. is a portrait of Queen Elizabeth II. Next to her is a painting of Gandhi. Each serves as a reminder of the cafe’s unique cultural heritage. Rebecca Rosman for NPR
“They say habit is second nature,” the bespectacled owner tells me over a generous plate of chicken berry pulao, the restaurant’s signature dish. “And habit has kept me coming here every day now for the last 80 years.”
Every day during the busy lunch hour, Kohinoor slowly makes his way around each table to partake in one of his favorite activities: schmoozing. Current favorite topics include the British monarchy, U.S. politics and his longevity plans. (He plans on breaking the Guinness World Record for oldest living person.)
India was still under British rule when Kohinoor’s father opened the cafe in 1923, which inspired the cafe’s name. “My father wanted to please the local commissioner, who was handing out leases at the time,” says Kohinoor.
When the restaurant opened, the menu consisted mostly of lighter European fare. It wasn’t until after independence from the British in 1947 that Kohinoor decided to revamp the menu, adding a slew of Iranian comfort food options that have since become the favorites here — dishes like sali boti, a lamb curry stewed with tomatoes, jaggery and onions and topped with fried potato strings.
Or the chicken berry pulao — moist chunks of chicken cooked in a fragrant tomato sauce, mixed with a rice pilaf and garnished with Iranian sour barberries. Downed with a fresh lime soda and crème caramel, it’s hard not to indulge.
Most items on the menu today follow the original recipes of Kohinoor’s late wife, Bacha — and they remain a fiercely guarded secret.
A small black-and-white photo of Bacha hangs on the wall alongside the restaurant’s entrance. On the other side of the room is a portrait of Queen Elizabeth II next to a painting of Gandhi. Several depictions of the Prophet Zoroaster, cloaked in white robes, are also on display. Each serves as a reminder of the cafe’s unique cultural heritage. Chicken berry pulao is the signature dish at Britannia & Co. Rebecca Rosman for NPR
Zoroastrians started arriving in India around 1,300 years ago to escape religious persecution from Arab invaders in their native Persia. By the mid-20th century, around 120,000 Parsis lived in India. Today there are less than half that. Zoroastrians don’t believe in conversion, making it hard to keep the religion alive.
But the more immediate problem for families like Kohinoor’s is a generational one.
Younger generations don’t want to inherit the long hours — and the risk of low returns — that come with running a restaurant.
“I’m only doing this for my dad,” admits Kohinoor’s 58-year-old son Romin, who has been working the register at Britannia & Co. for four decades. “He doesn’t want to close this place down. He doesn’t want to sell it at all.”
Romin has a 27-year-old daughter, Diana, who comes in at the end of each day to do the restaurant’s books.
She was studying law at university but didn’t really like it.
Now, “I would not want it to end because of me. So let’s take it forward,” she says.
But with her grandfather still going strong, her promotion from accountant to owner may be a while. Copyright 2019 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org. © 2019 KUNC

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Parsi Cafes, A Centuries-Old Tradition In India, Are Vanishing

Parsi Cafes, A Centuries-Old Tradition In India, Are Vanishing By Rebecca Rosman • 6 hours ago Boman Kohinoor, 97, has spent the past eight decades committed to his beloved Britannia & Co., one of Mumbai’s last Parsi cafes. Here, he proudly holds up a photo of himself with two members of the British royal family: the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Prince William and the former Kate Middleton. Rebecca Rosman for NPR / Originally published on June 2, 2019 12:55 pm
The brown walls are peeling at all ends. Giant paint chips cake the ceiling. And the cash register — if you can call it that — is just a series of old wooden drawers.
“I’m going to put up a sign that says ‘Enter at your own risk.’ Otherwise someone is going to hold me liable,” says Romin Kohinoor, one of the owners of the nearly century-oldBritannia & Co., one of Mumbai’s last Parsi cafes.
Luckily for Kohinoor, these quirky interiors have long been seen as more of an attraction than a liability.
Parsi cafes like Britannia & Co. started popping up around Mumbai in the late 19th century. They were founded by Parsis — Zoroastrians who fled religious persecution in their native Persia. The cafes became popular among many in India because, in a society where caste systems and long-standing taboos remain omnipresent, these cafes offered a place where various parts of Indian society mingled freely.
They are, in a word, cosmopolitan. They are also, in two words, dying out.
One of the world’s oldest religions, Zoroastrianism began thousands of years ago in what is now Iran, and the faith predates Islam. A central ethical tenet of the faith is to promote “good words, good thoughts and good deeds.” The Zoroastrian migrants brought to India not only their religious traditions but also their unique cuisine, offering a table to people of all classes, religions and ethnicities in an atmosphere scented with Iranian and Gujarati spices. Parsi cafes are emblems of tolerance, a core teaching of the Prophet Zoroaster, and their affordable food and snug tables attest to their place as servers of the common man.
At one point, there were around 400 Parsi cafes scattered across Mumbai. Today, there are less than 40.
A dwindling Parsi population, combined with little interest from newer generations to take over these family-owned businesses, means that there may not be any Parsi cafes in just a few decades.
But Britannia & Co. has a secret to standing strong amid a sea of dying neighbors: the 97-year-old owner, Boman Kohinoor, who has spent the past eight decades committed to his beloved cafe. On one wall of Britannia & Co. is a portrait of Queen Elizabeth II. Next to her is a painting of Gandhi. Each serves as a reminder of the cafe’s unique cultural heritage. Rebecca Rosman for NPR
“They say habit is second nature,” the bespectacled owner tells me over a generous plate of chicken berry pulao, the restaurant’s signature dish. “And habit has kept me coming here every day now for the last 80 years.”
Every day during the busy lunch hour, Kohinoor slowly makes his way around each table to partake in one of his favorite activities: schmoozing. Current favorite topics include the British monarchy, U.S. politics and his longevity plans. (He plans on breaking the Guinness World Record for oldest living person.)
India was still under British rule when Kohinoor’s father opened the cafe in 1923, which inspired the cafe’s name. “My father wanted to please the local commissioner, who was handing out leases at the time,” says Kohinoor.
When the restaurant opened, the menu consisted mostly of lighter European fare. It wasn’t until after independence from the British in 1947 that Kohinoor decided to revamp the menu, adding a slew of Iranian comfort food options that have since become the favorites here — dishes like sali boti, a lamb curry stewed with tomatoes, jaggery and onions and topped with fried potato strings.
Or the chicken berry pulao — moist chunks of chicken cooked in a fragrant tomato sauce, mixed with a rice pilaf and garnished with Iranian sour barberries. Downed with a fresh lime soda and crème caramel, it’s hard not to indulge.
Most items on the menu today follow the original recipes of Kohinoor’s late wife, Bacha — and they remain a fiercely guarded secret.
A small black-and-white photo of Bacha hangs on the wall alongside the restaurant’s entrance. On the other side of the room is a portrait of Queen Elizabeth II next to a painting of Gandhi. Several depictions of the Prophet Zoroaster, cloaked in white robes, are also on display. Each serves as a reminder of the cafe’s unique cultural heritage. Chicken berry pulao is the signature dish at Britannia & Co. Rebecca Rosman for NPR
Zoroastrians started arriving in India around 1,300 years ago to escape religious persecution from Arab invaders in their native Persia. By the mid-20th century, around 120,000 Parsis lived in India. Today there are less than half that. Zoroastrians don’t believe in conversion, making it hard to keep the religion alive.
But the more immediate problem for families like Kohinoor’s is a generational one.
Younger generations don’t want to inherit the long hours — and the risk of low returns — that come with running a restaurant.
“I’m only doing this for my dad,” admits Kohinoor’s 58-year-old son Romin, who has been working the register at Britannia & Co. for four decades. “He doesn’t want to close this place down. He doesn’t want to sell it at all.”
Romin has a 27-year-old daughter, Diana, who comes in at the end of each day to do the restaurant’s books.
She was studying law at university but didn’t really like it.
Now, “I would not want it to end because of me. So let’s take it forward,” she says.
But with her grandfather still going strong, her promotion from accountant to owner may be a while.

Read More…

Parsi Cafes, A Centuries-Old Tradition In India, Are Vanishing

Parsi Cafes, A Centuries-Old Tradition In India, Are Vanishing By Rebecca Rosman • 10 hours ago Boman Kohinoor, 97, has spent the past eight decades committed to his beloved Britannia & Co., one of Mumbai’s last Parsi cafes. Here, he proudly holds up a photo of himself with two members of the British royal family: the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Prince William and the former Kate Middleton. Rebecca Rosman for NPR / Originally published on June 2, 2019 12:55 pm
The brown walls are peeling at all ends. Giant paint chips cake the ceiling. And the cash register — if you can call it that — is just a series of old wooden drawers.
“I’m going to put up a sign that says ‘Enter at your own risk.’ Otherwise someone is going to hold me liable,” says Romin Kohinoor, one of the owners of the nearly century-oldBritannia & Co., one of Mumbai’s last Parsi cafes.
Luckily for Kohinoor, these quirky interiors have long been seen as more of an attraction than a liability.
Parsi cafes like Britannia & Co. started popping up around Mumbai in the late 19th century. They were founded by Parsis — Zoroastrians who fled religious persecution in their native Persia. The cafes became popular among many in India because, in a society where caste systems and long-standing taboos remain omnipresent, these cafes offered a place where various parts of Indian society mingled freely.
They are, in a word, cosmopolitan. They are also, in two words, dying out.
One of the world’s oldest religions, Zoroastrianism began thousands of years ago in what is now Iran, and the faith predates Islam. A central ethical tenet of the faith is to promote “good words, good thoughts and good deeds.” The Zoroastrian migrants brought to India not only their religious traditions but also their unique cuisine, offering a table to people of all classes, religions and ethnicities in an atmosphere scented with Iranian and Gujarati spices. Parsi cafes are emblems of tolerance, a core teaching of the Prophet Zoroaster, and their affordable food and snug tables attest to their place as servers of the common man.
At one point, there were around 400 Parsi cafes scattered across Mumbai. Today, there are less than 40.
A dwindling Parsi population, combined with little interest from newer generations to take over these family-owned businesses, means that there may not be any Parsi cafes in just a few decades.
But Britannia & Co. has a secret to standing strong amid a sea of dying neighbors: the 97-year-old owner, Boman Kohinoor, who has spent the past eight decades committed to his beloved cafe. On one wall of Britannia & Co. is a portrait of Queen Elizabeth II. Next to her is a painting of Gandhi. Each serves as a reminder of the cafe’s unique cultural heritage. Rebecca Rosman for NPR
“They say habit is second nature,” the bespectacled owner tells me over a generous plate of chicken berry pulao, the restaurant’s signature dish. “And habit has kept me coming here every day now for the last 80 years.”
Every day during the busy lunch hour, Kohinoor slowly makes his way around each table to partake in one of his favorite activities: schmoozing. Current favorite topics include the British monarchy, U.S. politics and his longevity plans. (He plans on breaking the Guinness World Record for oldest living person.)
India was still under British rule when Kohinoor’s father opened the cafe in 1923, which inspired the cafe’s name. “My father wanted to please the local commissioner, who was handing out leases at the time,” says Kohinoor.
When the restaurant opened, the menu consisted mostly of lighter European fare. It wasn’t until after independence from the British in 1947 that Kohinoor decided to revamp the menu, adding a slew of Iranian comfort food options that have since become the favorites here — dishes like sali boti, a lamb curry stewed with tomatoes, jaggery and onions and topped with fried potato strings.
Or the chicken berry pulao — moist chunks of chicken cooked in a fragrant tomato sauce, mixed with a rice pilaf and garnished with Iranian sour barberries. Downed with a fresh lime soda and crème caramel, it’s hard not to indulge.
Most items on the menu today follow the original recipes of Kohinoor’s late wife, Bacha — and they remain a fiercely guarded secret.
A small black-and-white photo of Bacha hangs on the wall alongside the restaurant’s entrance. On the other side of the room is a portrait of Queen Elizabeth II next to a painting of Gandhi. Several depictions of the Prophet Zoroaster, cloaked in white robes, are also on display. Each serves as a reminder of the cafe’s unique cultural heritage. Chicken berry pulao is the signature dish at Britannia & Co. Rebecca Rosman for NPR
Zoroastrians started arriving in India around 1,300 years ago to escape religious persecution from Arab invaders in their native Persia. By the mid-20th century, around 120,000 Parsis lived in India. Today there are less than half that. Zoroastrians don’t believe in conversion, making it hard to keep the religion alive.
But the more immediate problem for families like Kohinoor’s is a generational one.
Younger generations don’t want to inherit the long hours — and the risk of low returns — that come with running a restaurant.
“I’m only doing this for my dad,” admits Kohinoor’s 58-year-old son Romin, who has been working the register at Britannia & Co. for four decades. “He doesn’t want to close this place down. He doesn’t want to sell it at all.”
Romin has a 27-year-old daughter, Diana, who comes in at the end of each day to do the restaurant’s books.
She was studying law at university but didn’t really like it.
Now, “I would not want it to end because of me. So let’s take it forward,” she says.
But with her grandfather still going strong, her promotion from accountant to owner may be a while. Copyright 2019 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.
LULU GARCIA-NAVARRO, HOST:
Mumbai, India, has been at the crossroads of cultures for millennia. In the 19th century, refugees from Iran fleeing religious persecution opened what came to be called Parsi cafes. At one point, there were 400 of them. Today, there are fewer than 40. Rebecca Rosman visited one of the last Parsi cafes.
REBECCA ROSMAN, BYLINE: The first thing you notice when you walk into Britannia & Co., one of Mumbai’s most popular Parsi cafes, is that the place is kind of falling apart. Giant paint chips cake the ceiling. The brown walls are peeling. And the cash register, if you can call it that, is just a series of old wooden drawers.
ROMIN KOHINOOR: Very old-fashioned, very old-fashioned, see. And I don’t want to change it because I’ve got so used to it.
ROSMAN: Fifty-eight-year-old Romin Kohinoor has been working behind this register for four decades.
R KOHINOOR: This is my grandfather’s counter bell.
(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)
R KOHINOOR: It’s 98 years old, and it is made from British gun metal. See the echo. See the echo.
(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)
R KOHINOOR: Even the restaurant is very old-fashioned – 96 years old. It’s all peeling out. It’s all dropping. I’m going to put up a board now that you enter at own risk because if something happens, somebody’ll hold me liable.
ROSMAN: Luckily for Kohinoor, these quirky interiors are seen as more of an attraction than a liability and so is the food – Iranian comfort food. One of the most popular menu items is a dish called chicken berry pulao – a rice pilaf topped with moist chunks of chicken and stewed in a fragrant tomato sauce, garnished with sour barberries, giving the dish a sweet and sour punch, and served with fresh lime soda. But one of the biggest draws here is the owner.
BOMAN KOHINOOR: I come here every day from 12 o’clock till 4:30. I have been coming here now nearly about 80 years.
ROSMAN: That’s Romin’s 97-year-old father Boman Kohinoor. Boman’s father opened the restaurant in 1923. But every day since Boman was about 16, the chattier Kohinoor has slowly made his way around each table to partake in one of his favorite activities – schmoozing. Today’s topics for the endearing owner include Hillary Clinton, the British monarchy and his longevity plans.
B KOHINOOR: You know, the oldest man in the world, he died one year ago. How old was he? One hundred Forty-Six.
ROSMAN: One hundred forty-six.
ROSMAN: Oh, in Indonesia.
B KOHINOOR: Indonesia – I’m going to break his record.
ROSMAN: Kohinoor’s great-grandparents came to Mumbai more than 180 years ago after fleeing religious persecution from the dominant religion in Persia – Islam. They were Zoroastrians, one of the oldest religions in the world, founded on three main principles.
B KOHINOOR: Good thoughts, good words and good deeds.
ROSMAN: The hundreds of thousands of Zoroastrians who fled to India became known as Parsis. And in the 19th century, many started opening up these cafes. Now most are gone.
B KOHINOOR: In another 20 years or 30 years, there won’t be none.
ROSMAN: The Parsi population is dwindling. Today in India, there are just over 60,000 Parsis. You have to be born into the religion. Zoroastrians don’t believe in conversion. But the more immediate problem for families like Kohinoor’s is a generational one. Younger people don’t want to inherit the long hours and risk of low returns that come with running a restaurant. Even Boman’s 58-year-old son Romin Kohinoor admits he is only helping to keep the business going for one reason.
R KOHINOOR: I’m doing this only for my dad. He doesn’t want to close this place down. He doesn’t want to sell it out. I’m doing it just for him.
ROSMAN: Romin has a 27-year-old daughter Diana. She comes in at the end of each day to do the restaurant’s books, a job that requires a computer, meaning it’s too techie for anyone else in the family. Diana was studying law at university but didn’t really like it. I asked if she would have any interest in taking over the family business.
DIANA KOHINOOR: I would like to because we make good money out here. It’s like a set business. It’s there since 1923, and I would not want it to end because of me. So let’s take it ahead – forward.
ROSMAN: But with her grandfather still going strong, her promotion from accountant to owner may take a while.
For NPR News, I’m Rebecca Rosman in Mumbai. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR. © 2019 KSMU Radio

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Parsi Cafes, A Centuries-Old Tradition In India, Are Vanishing

Parsi Cafes, A Centuries-Old Tradition In India, Are Vanishing By Rebecca Rosman • 6 hours ago View Slideshow 1 of 3 Boman Kohinoor, 97, has spent the past eight decades committed to his beloved Britannia & Co., one of Mumbai’s last Parsi cafes. Here, he proudly holds up a photo of himself with two members of the British royal family: the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Chicken berry pulao is the signature dish at Britannia and Co. Listen / Listen to the Story
The brown walls are peeling at all ends. Giant paint chips cake the ceiling. And the cash register — if you can call it that — is just a series of old wooden drawers.
“I’m going to put up a sign that says ‘Enter at your own risk.’ Otherwise someone is going to hold me liable,” says Romin Kohinoor, one of the owners of the nearly century-oldBritannia & Co., one of Mumbai’s last Parsi cafes.
Luckily for Kohinoor, these quirky interiors have long been seen as more of an attraction than a liability.
Parsi cafes like Britannia & Co. started popping up around Mumbai in the late 19th century. They were founded by Parsis — Zoroastrians who fled religious persecution in their native Persia. The cafes became popular among many in India because, in a society where caste systems and long-standing taboos remain omnipresent, these cafes offered a place where various parts of Indian society mingled freely.
They are, in a word, cosmopolitan. They are also, in two words, dying out.
One of the world’s oldest religions, Zoroastrianism began thousands of years ago in what is now Iran, and the faith predates Islam. A central ethical tenet of the faith is to promote “good words, good thoughts and good deeds.” The Zoroastrian migrants brought to India not only their religious traditions but also their unique cuisine, offering a table to people of all classes, religions and ethnicities in an atmosphere scented with Iranian and Gujarati spices. Parsi cafes are emblems of tolerance, a core teaching of the Prophet Zoroaster, and their affordable food and snug tables attest to their place as servers of the common man.
At one point, there were around 400 Parsi cafes scattered across Mumbai. Today, there are less than 40.
A dwindling Parsi population, combined with little interest from newer generations to take over these family-owned businesses, means that there may not be any Parsi cafes in just a few decades.
But Britannia & Co. has a secret to standing strong amid a sea of dying neighbors: the 97-year-old owner, Boman Kohinoor, who has spent the past eight decades committed to his beloved cafe.
“They say habit is second nature,” the bespectacled owner tells me over a generous plate of chicken berry pulao, the restaurant’s signature dish. “And habit has kept me coming here every day now for the last 80 years.”
Every day during the busy lunch hour, Kohinoor slowly makes his way around each table to partake in one of his favorite activities: schmoozing. Current favorite topics include the British monarchy, U.S. politics and his longevity plans. (He plans on breaking the Guinness World Record for oldest living person.)
India was still under British rule when Kohinoor’s father opened the cafe in 1923, which inspired the cafe’s name. “My father wanted to please the local commissioner, who was handing out leases at the time,” says Kohinoor.
When the restaurant opened, the menu consisted mostly of lighter European fare. It wasn’t until after independence from the British in 1947 that Kohinoor decided to revamp the menu, adding a slew of Iranian comfort food options that have since become the favorites here — dishes like sali boti, a lamb curry stewed with tomatoes, jaggery and onions and topped with fried potato strings.
Or the chicken berry pulao — moist chunks of chicken cooked in a fragrant tomato sauce, mixed with a rice pilaf and garnished with Iranian sour barberries. Downed with a fresh lime soda and crème caramel, it’s hard not to indulge.
Most items on the menu today follow the original recipes of Kohinoor’s late wife, Bacha — and they remain a fiercely guarded secret.
A small black-and-white photo of Bacha hangs on the wall alongside the restaurant’s entrance. On the other side of the room is a portrait of Queen Elizabeth II next to a painting of Gandhi. Several depictions of the Prophet Zoroaster, cloaked in white robes, are also on display. Each serves as a reminder of the cafe’s unique cultural heritage.
Zoroastrians started arriving in India around 1,300 years ago to escape religious persecution from Arab invaders in their native Persia. By the mid-20th century, around 120,000 Parsis lived in India. Today there are less than half that. Zoroastrians don’t believe in conversion, making it hard to keep the religion alive.
But the more immediate problem for families like Kohinoor’s is a generational one.
Younger generations don’t want to inherit the long hours — and the risk of low returns — that come with running a restaurant.
“I’m only doing this for my dad,” admits Kohinoor’s 58-year-old son Romin, who has been working the register at Britannia & Co. for four decades. “He doesn’t want to close this place down. He doesn’t want to sell it at all.”
Romin has a 27-year-old daughter, Diana, who comes in at the end of each day to do the restaurant’s books.
She was studying law at university but didn’t really like it.
Now, “I would not want it to end because of me. So let’s take it forward,” she says.
But with her grandfather still going strong, her promotion from accountant to owner may be a while.
Copyright 2019 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org. © 2019 WJCT NEWS

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Parsi Cafes, A Centuries-Old Tradition In India, Are Vanishing

Parsi Cafes, A Centuries-Old Tradition In India, Are Vanishing By editor • 3 hours ago Boman Kohinoor, 97, has spent the past eight decades committed to his beloved Britannia & Co., one of Mumbai’s last Parsi cafes. Here, he proudly holds up a photo of himself with two members of the British royal family: the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Prince William and the former Kate Middleton. Rebecca Rosman for NPR / Originally published on June 2, 2019 12:07 pm
The brown walls are peeling at all ends. Giant paint chips cake the ceiling. And the cash register — if you can call it that — is just a series of old wooden drawers.
“I’m going to put up a sign that says ‘Enter at your own risk.’ Otherwise someone is going to hold me liable,” says Romin Kohinoor, one of the owners of the nearly century-oldBritannia & Co., one of Mumbai’s last Parsi cafes.
Luckily for Kohinoor, these quirky interiors have long been seen as more of an attraction than a liability.
Parsi cafes like Britannia & Co. started popping up around Mumbai in the late 19th century. They were founded by Parsis — Zoroastrians who fled religious persecution in their native Persia. The cafes became popular among many in India because, in a society where caste systems and long-standing taboos remain omnipresent, these cafes offered a place where various parts of Indian society mingled freely.
They are, in a word, cosmopolitan. They are also, in two words, dying out.
One of the world’s oldest religions, Zoroastrianism began thousands of years ago in what is now Iran, and the faith predates Islam. A central ethical tenet of the faith is to promote “good words, good thoughts and good deeds.” The Zoroastrian migrants brought to India not only their religious traditions but also their unique cuisine, offering a table to people of all classes, religions and ethnicities in an atmosphere scented with Iranian and Gujarati spices. Parsi cafes are emblems of tolerance, a core teaching of the Prophet Zoroaster, and their affordable food and snug tables attest to their place as servers of the common man.
At one point, there were around 400 Parsi cafes scattered across Mumbai. Today, there are less than 40.
A dwindling Parsi population, combined with little interest from newer generations to take over these family-owned businesses, means that there may not be any Parsi cafes in just a few decades.
But Britannia & Co. has a secret to standing strong amid a sea of dying neighbors: the 97-year-old owner, Boman Kohinoor, who has spent the past eight decades committed to his beloved cafe. On one wall of Britannia & Co. is a portrait of Queen Elizabeth II. Next to her is a painting of Gandhi. Each serves as a reminder of the cafe’s unique cultural heritage. Rebecca Rosman for NPR
“They say habit is second nature,” the bespectacled owner tells me over a generous plate of chicken berry pulao, the restaurant’s signature dish. “And habit has kept me coming here every day now for the last 80 years.”
Every day during the busy lunch hour, Kohinoor slowly makes his way around each table to partake in one of his favorite activities: schmoozing. Current favorite topics include the British monarchy, U.S. politics and his longevity plans. (He plans on breaking the Guinness World Record for oldest living person.)
India was still under British rule when Kohinoor’s father opened the cafe in 1923, which inspired the cafe’s name. “My father wanted to please the local commissioner, who was handing out leases at the time,” says Kohinoor.
When the restaurant opened, the menu consisted mostly of lighter European fare. It wasn’t until after independence from the British in 1947 that Kohinoor decided to revamp the menu, adding in a slew of Iranian comfort food options that have since become the favorites here — dishes like sali boti, a lamb curry stewed with tomatoes, jaggery and onions and topped with fried potato strings.
Or the chicken berry pulao — moist chunks of chicken cooked in a fragrant tomato sauce, mixed with a rice pilaf and garnished with Iranian sour barberries. Downed with a fresh lime soda and crème caramel, it’s hard not to indulge.
Most items on the menu today follow the original recipes of Kohinoor’s late wife, Bacha — and they remain a fiercely guarded secret.
A small black-and-white photo of Bacha hangs on the wall alongside the restaurant’s entrance. On the other side of the room is a portrait of Queen Elizabeth II next to a painting of Gandhi. Several depictions of the Prophet Zoroaster, cloaked in white robes, are also on display. Each serves as a reminder of the cafe’s unique cultural heritage. Chicken berry pulao is the signature dish at Britannia & Co. Rebecca Rosman for NPR
Zoroastrians started arriving in India around 1,300 years ago to escape religious persecution from Arab invaders in their native Persia. By the mid-20th century, around 120,000 Parsis lived in India. Today there are less than half that. Zoroastrians don’t believe in conversion, making it hard to keep the religion alive.
But the more immediate problem for families like Kohinoor’s is a generational one.
Younger generations don’t want to inherit the long hours — and the risk of low returns — that come with running a restaurant.
“I’m only doing this for my dad,” admits Kohinoor’s 58-year-old son Romin, who has been working the register at Britannia & Co. for four decades. “He doesn’t want to close this place down. He doesn’t want to sell it at all.”
Romin has a 27-year-old daughter, Diana, who comes in at the end of each day to do the restaurant’s books.
She was studying law at university but didn’t really like it.
Now, “I would not want it to end because of me. So let’s take it forward,” she says.
But with her grandfather still going strong, her promotion from accountant to owner may be a while. Copyright 2019 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org. © 2019 WMRA and WEMC

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