Britannia and Co, Fort, Mumbai [Berry Pulao and Boman Kohinoor]

Dec 26, 2016

This year I had the opportunity to discover Bombay. A city which was a big complex web of train lines now feels simpler. Thanks to various people who recommended me places and taught me how to move around in Mumbai. Last weekend, I got another opportunity to discover more in Mumbai. So, I went to a place which was added to my list the moment I returned from Colaba. The place is Fort. 

So, where in Fort? My plan was to visit 
  • Britannia & Co (for Kohinoor uncle and their Berry Pulao) 
  • Hotel Deluxe (for some yummy Kerlite Food and especially for their Onam Sadya) 
  • Yazdani Bakery (For Brun Maska) 
  • Ideal Corner (For Dansak and Custard) 
  • Cafe Military (Sali Boro and Caramel Custard) 
  • Also, roam around a bit 

But, I could go to only two places as I only had one afternoon with me. This post is about the first place I went to. 

Right after my I checked into in my hotel, I took an Uber to Fort. Directly to Britannia & Co. The moment you enter the place, you know that it is going to be unique. The checked tablecloths, the menu on those table cloths secured with a glass top, a simple rooster for the menu (the rooster is Robin and was a pet here), the same Bentwood furniture that were imported from Poland during the its early years, interior made by Japanese carpenters, life-size cut-outs of the Prince William and Kate Middleton, India's flag along with Iran's flag and the Union Jack, picture of Mahatma Gandhi along with the Queen...the list goes on. You have to be there to absorb it all. 

I arrived late, but luckily they had what I wanted to eat - Berry Pulao (a signature dish of Britannia & Co), Salli Boti, and of course the Raspberry Soda. 

What is Berry Pulao and what does it taste like? I finally have the answer from the restaurant which got the recipe from Iran. Berry Pulao is a layer of fragrant rice topped with a layer of meat made with caramelized onions, topped with another layer of fragrant rice. The whole dish is then sprinkled with generous amount of barberry which is imported from Iran. The dish is overall sweeter in taste because of the onions and the burst of tart and sweetness when you chew on a barberry. I ordered the Mutton one which was not as soft as the ones in the Salli Boti. They also offer Berry Pulao with Chicken, Prawn, Keema, Paneer, Egg or Veg. I think this is the most variety that any other restaurant offers. 

Salli Boti is something that a Bengali foodie cannot not love - spicy mutton gravy crowned with fried potato sticks. The mutton was melt in the mouth. 

Now, let's skip on the food. Why? Because I could not have met Boman Kohinoor anywhere else. 

He is charming and even at 95 years personally takes the order, gifts little kids chocolates, talks to everyone to check how they like it, and super humble. He will make sure that you feel special. When he asked me where I was from and got to know that it was Kolkata, he told me how he sent his son there for 10 days (or was it a month? See, even at one-third of this age I cannot specifically remember things). When he returned, he told him how much he liked the culture, Kolkata trams, and walking around the Park Circus. He talked about Rabindranath Tagore and Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose. He is a great storyteller who knows how to make others feel good. 

The restaurant is open for just 4 hours a day around lunch time, remains closed on Sunday, with prices comparatively higher that what others offer but there is something about the place that makes it a worth a visit at least once a lifetime. If not to eat then to meet Boman Kohinoor also known as Britannia Uncle. 

He loves the British Royal family. He even invited the Queen to try their Berry Pulao from whom he received a signed letter. He treasures it with all his heart and shows it to every guest. The biggest twist of tales happened when a video of his wishing to meet the royal family went viral. So, he got to meet Duke and Duchess of Cambridge Prince William and Kate Middleton at an out-of-schedule meeting at the Taj Mahal Palace hotel. 

Moral of the story: No dream is big if you really wish for it.

Part II of the story here


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