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

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

Parsi Cafes, A Centuries-Old Tradition In India, Are Vanishing By Rebecca Rosman • 4 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 10:28 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. UPR Partners

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Liquor law loopholes, restaurant closures, award winners and much more

Liquor law loopholes, restaurant closures, award winners and much more June 2, 2019 250 DABC news
Making the headlines across the land this month was Social Axe’s return to the commission, seeking to secure a recreational beer license for their axe throwing business. You might recall that due to recent legislative changes ( HB453 section 32B-6-702) the qualifying list of activities for this particular license type was updated to be specifically enumerated and not open to interpretation.
Mark Floyd, co-owner of Social Axe, returned after suggestions from commissioners in last months meeting , with a new business plan. Namely, the business had gone ahead and installed multiple pool tables (as well as an arcade section) into the facility to comply with the law under the notion of a pool and billiard parlor. Naturally, this “charade” as framed by one commissioner resulted in some spirited debate about the intent of the new legislation.
Commissioner Jacquelyn Orton summed up the majority of the commission thoughts and feelings saying, “I feel that, when I was put on the DABC commission, I feel like I was given a mandate to both follow the laws that we are given, thats not always easy to do, but also to use good discretion and in my mind, social axe has gone above and beyond to try to show good faith in complying the with intent as I understand it from the legislature. I will just tell you I will be voting in favor of this just because at some point I think we have to be reasonable and I feel like their good faith effort is valuable not just to us as commissioners but to the communities we represent as a whole.”
Commissioner Thomas Jacobson was the lone dissenting voice amongst commissioners suggesting the business update its exterior signage and advertising, “I think in order to be in compliance with the statute that the signage on the building would have to indicate that it is a pool and billiard parlor. I think the business has to be advertised to being a pool and billiard parlor; and if they also want to indicate that axe throwing is available – yes. But I think in order to comply with the statute you’ve got to call yourself a pool and billiard parlor.” Jacobsen also went on later in the discussion to ask what would stop an auto shop asking for a recreational beer license if they simply were to install pool tables.
Steve Lister, co-owner of Social Axe told the commission, “We were told at last months meeting – I don’t remember which commissioner said it – why don’t you put in a pool table and come back and see us next month? Which is what we did. We’re trying to be compliant, the struggle I have is, if I were to simplify it, I’m a Wendys franchise owner and the legislature changes the law and turns me into a Jiffy Lube, I don’t know how to change oil – I know how to make burgers. We’re an axe throwing business trying to be compliant with the DABC, that’s what we’re trying to do. We cant change our model to the extent of changing our business. We don’t know how to make money doing those other things – we know how to make money throwing axes; so thats what we want to continue to do, with a recreational beer permit – we’ve had that permit in Salt Lake City for one year with no issues. Zero issues.”
Chairman John T. Nielsen added his own thoughts too, “It seems to me that you’ve done what I think is necessary to comply with the statute. I was sympathetic to what the commissioner was saying, that there ought to be at least some indication that you have an activity there that meets the parameter of the statute. You’ve done that, it’s on your door.”. Nielsen expanded that the everyone’s lives would be made easier (both businesses and the DABC) if the legislature could address the statue in short order. As reported by Kathy Stephenson of the Trib, senator Jerry Stevenson concurred agreeing the mater would be looked at.
At any rate, the commission voted in favor of Social Axe 6-1, approving the recreational liquor license. Expect this one to run and run, as other businesses (such as last months Heart And Seoul Karaoke failing to secure a license) look to see if they can qualify with creative solutions. Here’s hoping the wise words of one commissioner are heeded and the enumerated list is dropped entirely – recreational activities being something that will likely always evolve over time. Hidden Cuisine Moab – South African style ribs (Hidden Cuisine) Full service licenses (beer, wine liquor)
La Cueva Restaurant Mexicano, TorreyJoe’s Crab Shack, SandyP.F. Chang’s China Bistro, Farmington, conditionalWeller’s Bistro on Main, Layton, conditionalTin Angel Eccles, Salt Lake City, conditionalOsteria Amore, Salt Lake City, conditional Limited service license (beer and wine)
Hideout Steakhouse of Heber City, Heber CityHidden Cuisine, MoabClubhouse Grill/Thanksgiving Point Golf Course, Lehi, conditionalCulichi Kitchen, Orem, conditionalElement Park City, Park City, conditional Chedda Burger – coming to The Gateway with beer (Chedda Burger) Bar licenses
One full license was available at this meeting, plus 2 summer seasonals. Beehive Distilling secured the single full bar license for their South Salt Lake operation with Button Up securing a Summer seasonal. Bout Time Pub & Grub in WVC, Punch Bowl Social at the Gateway and Redemption of Herriman look set to compete at coming meetings for a limited supply of license; only a couple of licenses are expected to be made available due to population changes in the coming months. Other licenses
Silver Reef Brewing Company (Washington City) was approved for a new distilling license, adding to their existing brewery operation. Meanwhile Chedda Burger’s new Gateway location secured a beer only restaurant license. Bewilder Brewing Company out of SLC also took home a Beer Tavern license, plus Park City’s Viking Yurt was approved for a. transition from a Winter Seasonal to a full year restaurant license as well. Park City Cocktail Contest PCARA Cocktail Contest
The Park City Area Restaurant Association welcomes the return of its annual summer cocktail contest. Open to all bartenders and mixologists of any PCARA establishment, cocktail professionals are invited to submit their best recipes to be included in this year’s contest. The winner will earn a $200 cash prize, city-wide recognition, and be featured in PCARA marketing efforts following the contest.
Exec-director Ginger Wicks writes, “Every year, we are fortunate enough to taste so many unique cocktails we are sure can’t be topped, and our talented mixologists continue to do just that. The contest motivates Park City’s talented staff behind the bar to push their creative limits and participate in some friendly competition – while guests get the chance to enjoy each and every sip served.”
Last year’s winner was mixologist Trevor Brown from Main Street’s tupelo, who took home the bragging rights with his Cherry In The Rye cocktail. The creation comprised rye whiskey, ginger liqueur, a port reduction, lime juice and club soda. Mixologists interested in entering this year’s contest can find the cocktail contest applications at www.parkcityrestaurants.com . Entrants must submit their applications by Monday, June 17 to Ginger Wicks, . Twin Suns Cafe – uncle Tommy’s wet burrito. Credit, Joshua Shimizu Closures Twin Suns Cafe
With major recalling of the Sugar House area still underway, this small cafe ran by Daniel Cantu is closed as of the end of May. Via email Cantu wrote to patrons”
“I found out a couple days ago that all of us tenants in that quaint building on Highland Dr have had our leases terminated, effective the end of this month. This has come as sudden and unfortunate news but it will upward and onward regardless. We knew that construction would eventually take over that spot but we hoped it would be later than sooner. I need to figure out the next chapter of Cantu’s Culinary Creations and the Twin Suns Cafe but I am certainly up for the challenge. Nevertheless, I will keep you posted with updates as to what will happen but as I mentioned this service will pause temporarily. We will be doing deliveries on the 14th, 21st and 28th and we will have a Star War themed dinner at the cafe on the 25th. Thank you so much for your support and I look forward to sharing the next chapter of my culinary journey with you soon.”
Reported by Mary Malouf in SL Mag , news about what comes next for the recently shuttered Aristo’s and Paris Bistro spaces – both apparently to be new Italian restaurant eateries. The Paris Bistro is expected to be the home for an another outpost of the mind boggling expansion of Sicilia Mia, with Aristo’s being replaced by Osteria Amore, an Italian restaurant concept from a former manager of Sicilia Mia (awarded a full service liquor license you might note above).
Finally, Cedars Of Lebanon closes on June 8th this month after nearly four decades of serving up Middle Eastern cuisine in downtown SLC. The space looks set to be replaced by the San Francisco chain Curry Up Now which is moving into Utah and Colorado with some 20 units planned across the two states. The downtown SLC location will also sport the craft cocktail concept from the chain as well – Mortar And Pestle Bar – a funky looking Indian inspired bar. URA 2019 awards
The Utah Restaurant Association (URA) held their annual Restaurant Industry Awards Gala on May 23rd. The URA recognized the outstanding achievements of professionals in the restaurant industry, food community and also those who contribute to the success of the restaurant industry from outside. Notable winners at the event included included Chef Of The Year Jodie Rogers of Deer Valley Resort.
Five Seeds, Tona Sushi, The Daily SLC and Table X were among those restaurants receiving the Best Concept award. Ryan Lowder took home the “Golden Spoon” as he was honored as Utah’s Restaurateur of the Year. While Skyler Morris from SLC Eatery received the Heart of The Industry Front of House award for his tenured serving career.
Melva Sine, the president of the Utah Restaurant Association writes, “We have an incredibly unique and diverse restaurant industry and food community in Utah. We have a wealth of talent and so many professionals that value and contribute to Utah’s busting restaurant economy. We love celebrating our food family. We believe in celebrating our food culture in Utah, from North to South, East to West. It is important to recognize the industry and our collective accomplishments as well as individual contributions.” Table X Table X – fresh fruit, passed appetizer
Table X have announced they’re one of four restaurants selected by the Utah Office of Tourism to represent the Wasatch Front emerging as a foodie destination at two media events in June in Los Angeles and New York City. The restaurant kicks off the Summer season by offering a $29 three-course “Neighborhood Tasting” menu to allow customers an affordable sampling of its award-winning cuisine. The menu will be available nightly from 5-7.00 p.m. Options will vary throughout the summer and will feature two appetizers and an entrée.
In representing Utah to LA and NYC foodies, chef Nick Fahs plans to prepare and present a vegetable steak with chick pea puree, spruce salt, and preserved currants using ingredients harvested from the restaurant’s abundant, on-site garden. Fahs writes, “It’s a tremendous honor to have been invited as an ambassador of the Wasatch Front’s dining scene and showcase what is unique to our area coming of the heels of being recognized by the Utah Restaurant Association. We are excited for this opportunity to be exposed to national and regional media with large readerships, and to help raise awareness of Utah’s cutting-edge chefs and top-notch local products.”
1457 E 3350 84106(385) 528-3712 tablexrestaurant.com Savor The Summit announces High West Spirit Garden
AS you know Savor The Summit is back soon, but if you’re not able to secure a spot at the Grande Table, High West are returning with their Spirit Garden option.
Located at the intersection of Heber Avenue and Main Street, the High West Spirit Garden is open to the public at no charge with no reservation needed. A limited number of VIP tickets are available for purchase for $55. VIP Tickets includes three assorted food items from Deer Valley Resort’s The Brass Tag and two drinks. Beverage options will include High West Whiskey, Red Rock beer, an assortment of Vine Lore wines, and Smart Water. Food service will be from 5-8.00 p.m., and bar service from 5-9.45 p.m. VIP tickets will not be available at the door and can only be purchased in advance by calling 435-901-8895.
Live entertainment of pop, funk, R&B and soul vibes include:
5:30 – 7:15 p.m. Jake & The Heist
8:00 – 9:45 p.m. Changing Lanes
Event goers are encouraged to park at Treasure Mountain Junior High School (2530 Kearns Blvd, Park City, UT 84060) and ride the free transit system to Main Street. Paid parking is also available in garages located on Swede Alley and at the Marriott Summit Watch but will fill up quickly. Miscellaneous
Kowloon Cafe clos ure reported in more detail (SL Tribune)
New l iquor law group set to push for change (KUTV)
Conflicting city codes cause chaos (SL Tribune) Food talk
Want to discuss this post or the SLC food scene in general? Check out our Facebook group and come talk with other likeminded SLC foodies. Stuart Melling
Hi, I’m Stuart, nice to meet you! I’m the founder, writer and wrangler at Gastronomic SLC and The Utah Review; I’m also a former restaurant critic of more than five years, working for the Salt Lake Tribune. I’ve worked extensively with other local publications from Utah Stories through to Salt Lake Magazine and Visit Salt Lake.
I’m a multiple-award winning journalist and have covered the Utah dining scene for more than a decade. I’m largely fueled by Uinta Cutthroat, alliteration and the use of too many big words I don’t understand. I ate all the pies. This site is 100% free of intrusive third party ads through the generous headline sponsorship by The Gateway – SLC’s premier entertainment destination.

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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 • 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 91.5 KIOS-FM

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Three Day Itinerary for Your First Singapore Trip – InsideFlyer

Three Day Itinerary for Your First Singapore Trip – InsideFlyer 03.06.2019 0
Are you planing your very first Singapore trip? Make the most of your visit with our perfect 3 day itinerary. Get ideas on the best things to do, where to eat, where to stay and other handy Singapore travel tips. Your 3 Day Singapore Trip Itinerary Day 1
Explore Kampong Glam , the traditional Malay-Muslim quarter of Singapore, now an eclectic and trendy area. Start from the Sultan Mosque and wander the many side streets filled with quirky shops, hip cafes and even traditional wares. Make sure to hit Haji Lane if you enjoy street art.
In the afternoon, head to our favorite place in Singapore, the Gardens By the Bay . (We suggest visiting both Gardens By the Bay and Marina Bay Sands on the same night and timing your visit to catch both of their free nightly light shows.)
One of the biggest draws for visitors are the iconic tree-shaped vertical gardens known as Supertree Grove. Measuring 25 to 50 meters tall, the Supertrees are rather hard to miss. Try to visit at night so that you can enjoy the nightly light and sound show at 7.45pm and 8.45pm. The outdoor gardens, including the Supertree Grove, is free. However, there is a fee to enter the OCBC Skyway (an elevated walkway between two Supertrees).
Walk to the Marina Bay Sands, a huge complex housing The Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands mall, a casino, hotel, museum, theaters and restaurants. For a great view head to the observation deck at SkyPark or CE LA VI bar (formerly Ku De Ta) where you can get the same view for the price of a drink. Take in the free Spectra Light and Water show which takes place at place nightly at 8pm, 9pm and 10pm (only on weekends). One of the best places to view the show is in front of the Louis Vuitton store.
After visiting the Marina Bay Sands, cross the Helix Bridge to reach the waterfront. The Helix Bridge is a pedestrian bridge located in the Marina Bay area. This bridge is unique for having a ‘double-helix’ structure inspired by DNA structure. Viewing platforms are placed at strategic points to stop and take in the Singapore skyline. The Helix bridge is best experienced at night when it is illuminated.
After crossing the Helix Bridge , walk on the waterfront promenade to admire the city and harbor views until you reach the Merlion .
The Merlion is a statue with the head of a lion and the body of a fish. Water spouts from the statue’s mouth so tourists gleefully take creative and campy photos by appropriately positioning themselves. The Merlion is one of Singapore’s most famous icons and although touristy, it does have a great view of the harbor and Marina Bay Sands complex.
If you missed the water and light show at the Marina Bay Sands, keep walking to the Lantern, the rooftop bar of The Fullerton Bay Hotel Singapore for a great view of the show. Make sure to also stop by Long Bar at the Raffles Hotel and have the famous Singapore Sling. Day 2
Take the MRT to Little India which is vibrant and full of activity day and night. In addition to the interesting shops, highlights include Sri Srinivasa Perumal Temple and the 24 hour Mustafa Center .
Take the MRT to Chinatown. Head first to Maxwell Food Centre one of the best known hawker centers for tasty but cheap food. Make sure to try the Hainanese chicken rice at the Tian Tian stall (which is one of Anthony Bourdain’s favorites.
Then spend the afternoon exploring Chinatown . Check out the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple and Museum, Chinatown Heritage Center, Sri Mariamman Temple and Tian Hock Keng. You can then finish the day by doing some shopping. Day 3
Wake up bright and early to visit Singapore Botanic Gardens which are also UNESCO World Heritage Site (Singapore’s first listing). In addition to admiring the beautiful flowers you can watch the locals working out or join them. Singapore Botanic Gardens open from 5 am to 12 midnight daily; since Singapore can get very hot, we recommend going early in the morning. The Singapore Botanic Gardens are free but there is a small fee to enter the National Orchid Garden. The gardens are large so it will take at least a couple of hours to explore.
After spending time outdoors at the Singapore Botanic Gardens, take the MRT to Orchard Road for some luxury shopping or Bugis Street for more affordable shopping.
In the evening head back to Kampong Glam or the Quays for dinner or drinks. The three quays are Boat Quay, Clarke Quay (more of a party vibe) and Robertson Quay. Another option is to head downtown to Lau Pa Sat (also known as Telok Ayer Market), one of Singapore’s most popular hawker centres. Lau Pa Sat is open 24 hours but some stalls close around midnight or 1am.
Another option especially for families is to visit the Singapore Zoo for the night safari (19:30 – midnight). Getting to and Around on Your Singapore Trip
* The best way to get around Singapore is walking and the clean and efficient Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) . Keep in mind that the MRT does not run 24 hours-check out the times for the first and last trains here. Taxis are affordable and is also found in Singapore.
* If you want to avoid figuring out how to get around you can also sign up for a Sightseeing Hop-On Hop-Off Tour .
* You can travel to/from SIngapore Changi Airport by train, bus or taxi. If you have too much luggage to take public transportation, you can reserve a cheap airport shuttle here . Singapore Travel Tips
* Singapore is hot and humid so try to do most of your outdoor sightseeing in the early morning or in the evening. Save indoor attractions like the Cloud Forest or museums for midday.
* There is no best time of the year to take your Singapore trip as its temperature does not vary year round. It rains most days (even thought the rain does not last long) so bring an umbrella.
* Singapore has very strict laws and rules so do not commit any crimes. There are some unusual laws such as chewing gum is not allowed. However, this makes Singapore one of the safest places in the world even at night. Where to Stay in Singapore
It can be overwhelming deciding where to stay during your Singapore trip. There are so many hotels to choose from! These are our top choices:
Luxury ($200 and above)
The Fullerton Bay Hotel Singapore. This 5 star luxury hotel is another great option for travelers looking to splurge. This is a beautiful hotel with a roof top infinity pool and a roof top bar. Book a suite facing Marina Bay Sands and you can enjoy the Laser light and water show from your room. Click here to read Tripadvisor reviews .
Midprice ($100-200) Budget (Under $100) The Best Singapore Tours
Here are a few different tours you can join to make the most of your time in Singapore.
The Half-Day Singapore City Tour tour is a 3.5 hour tour that will take you to some of the places listed in my itinerary.
If you enjoy being active, you might enjoy this 4 hour bike tour .
Are you a foodie? This food tour will let you taste the best of Singapore’s Malaysian, Chinese, and Indian cuisine.
Have you been done a Singapore trip yet? If so, what do you recommend doing with 3 days?– Save this to Pinterest!
Disclaimer: This article contains affiliate links. We may make a small commission if you make a booking using our links at no extra cost to you.

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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 • 11 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 90.3 KAZU

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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 • 4 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 9:28 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. Our Broadcast Partners

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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 WYPR

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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 9:55 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 knba

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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 WCLK

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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 8:55 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 HPPR

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