If there’s one thing I’ve despised from the very beginning, it’s Irani Cafes. I’ve never really cared for the food, the staff are generally rude and many of them pretend to be closing down but never actually do. I’m probably going to get a lot of flak for being a Bombay based food writer who doesn’t like Irani Cafes, but at least admitting something that everyone knows is true but can’t say out loud is rather liberating. Don’t get me wrong, they do have some redeeming qualities like being reasonably priced and not yet being turned into Starbucks.
There is one Irani Cafe that managed to win me over, but it isn’t your stereotypical Irani; it’s 2 years old, not 200. They call it Cafe Irani Chaii. It was started because some had the brilliant idea of taking the positive aspects of Irani Cafes like their undeniable charm and adding little things like good service and excellent food. The result; one of the nicest breakfasts we’ve had in a long while.
On the surface, Cafe Irani Chaii is one of the cutest little places I’ve ever seen. I’ve been to some disgustingly adorable places before, but this was a bit different; nothing about it seemed to come across as inauthentic. Whoever designed it did one hell of a job, I really felt like I was in an Irani Cafe without having to worry about a hundred year old wooden roof falling on my head. Now the food;
As someone who’s been eating at Irani Cafe’s for as long as I can remember, I have to admit the food you get at Cafe Irani Chaii is identical to the food you’d get at any other Irani, except that it’s a lot better. If you’re the type of person who has the time for luxuries like breakfast you should really check it out;
1) Mutton Kheema (Half)
Half a plate of Cafe Irani Chaii’s mutton kheema is more than enough for the average person. But that’s exactly what makes it awesome; it’s refreshing, just like the restaurant around it. The mutton kheema is a bit spicy so make sure you have a bottle of Raspberry Pallonji’s within arm’s length.
2) Mutton Samosa
Cafe Irani Chaii’s mutton samosa, like everything else about it, is as delicious as it is exciting. It has enough oil to justify an illegal invasion by the US and is stuffed to the brim with exactly the same mutton kheema I wrote about earlier. It’s crisper than my beautiful voice and prepared on demand, so it’s always hot. Maybe a little too hot.
3) Bun Maska
You can’t legally go to an Irani Cafe without ordering a bun maska. Cafe Irani Chaii’s bun maska tastes exactly like childhood, and despite being covered in butter is still less greasier than you are if you didn’t find that childhood comparison a bit weird.
4) Akuri (2 eggs)
Price: Rs 80
In the proud TBR tradition of saving the best of last we present the Akuri. I always say two eggs are better than one, and people keep telling me that isn’t an actual phrase. Well it is now. Cafe Irani Chaii’s akuri is one of the most delicious things I’ve ever had, that’s no exaggeration, it’s better than the samosa, better than the bun maska, even better than the mutton kheema (which was the whole reason we whent there in the first place). If my words have moved you enough to actually visit Cafe Irani Chaii, this is the one thing I’d most recommend you try.