21st Feb 2017. You enter SODA BOTTLE OPENERWALA.
First – Get your name and the no. of guests coming with you, registered with the manager ; didn’t you see the long waiting outside ?? You are wait-listed. Like always. Till you are confirmed you – can either stroll to the nearby restaurants , decide on something else or better still – simply gaze through the glass walls of soda Bottle opener wala – to be time traveled ..far away…far before …to the reasons of its origin.
Its somewhere between 8th to 10th century. Hordes of Persians are fleeing their country, their Zoroastrian community – to escape the wrath of Muslim invaders, to escape persecution, to escape the forceful adoption of a new religion. Some are fleeing through the silk route , to land up in China and in the due process ,obliterate their complete existence, by 4th Century, the other lucky few are fleeing through Sindh, to land at Diu, Gujarat , survive , flourish and become famous- as the so called Parsees of today.
Some centuries later , in the same persia , arises this another group that revolted against the same invaders for some 200 years, the period being known today as the period of silence . This group too flees and joins us in the 18th and 19th century , much later than the parsees, becoming famous as the Iranis of today.
That’s how the perceptible differences arise between the Iranis and the parsees , in the old , authentic Iranian Cafes and the Parsi ones .
When the parsees first came to India – they were told to abide by three rules :-
- Speak Local language
- Follow Local Marriage Customs
- Do not carry Arms.
They did exactly what told. They Integrated into the main society but maintained their own identity.
Situations started changing with the arrival of British. Parsees were the quickest to adapt to the quirks of the new Rules , moving quickly to the newly run British establishments, primarily in Mumbai . They were the first ones to come out as surgeons, barristers, financiers and teachers. Gradually by the turn of 18th century almost all major land holdings in Bombay belonged to the Parsees .
They became rich and soon ventured into their own businesses- steel mills, trade , cotton factories and the cafes which are famous till date .
Your number has come. Enter Inside Please . Food is ready.
Now ! Be ready to be mesmerized by the interiors of Soda Bottle. It takes you completely to a time where you had stopped picturing , before entering inside – about the Early Parsee establishments, their clothes , their Gujarati Patois with a dash of Modern English, their homes , their food , their Cutlery , their behavior, their style , their ways.
The interior seems to be genetically Irani. Small square Tables, chequered table cloths , some tables lined with cushioned chairs, some with plain wooden frame. a long bar towards the end , lined by a couple of high back chairs , long wired hanging Bulbs, lanterns, old Black and White pictures, completed with colorful wallpapers adorning every inch of walls inside , topping it all is a miniature train running on thin tracks , way above your head . Almost each large table has a beautiful Parsi family , lovingly seated with all family members , enjoying their choicest meal. About 10 Waiters in identical black and white uniforms are scuffling around in their trademark aprons. One split second and the menu Board is on your Table.
If you are new to the soda bottle ways , trust me you will have one hell of a time figuring out what to taste and what to leave behind for the next visit , because not tasting- is completely ruled out .
For starters :-
- Chilli Cheese Pav- two buns softly cooked with a dash of butter and cheese chilli toppings
- Spicy Mushroom on Khari- four pieces, with butter, sauted aromatic mushrooms on top
- Aloo Aunty’s vegetable cutlet- served with thick, red , spiced chutney made of jaggery and tamarind
- Cheesy French Fries – Masala version
For Mains :-
- Vegetable Berry Pulao- each spoon from any of the different corners, promises a different taste. Some fried onions , some spices , some nuts and some vegetable toppings, make it what it is !
- Bharuchi Paneer Akuri- very different from the regular ones
- Badami Style Potato- miniature potatoes cooked in thick , rich badami paste
For Deserts :-
- Mawa Cake
- Lagan Nu Custard. – soft , creamy served like muffins.
For Non Alcoholic Drinks :-
- Hot – Irani Chai- Spiced , hot and flavored
- Cold – Sekanjee Bin- thick , spiced, tangy , sweet, glass bottled , drink served with a straw
For Alcoholic Drinks :-
- Red Wine Sula Zinfadel- Goes best with the Irani Menu.
- New Cocktails can be given a try
Lunch – 12: 30- 13 :00 (Less Crowded )
Dinner- 20: 00- 20.30 (less crowded )
Till then ,
Happy Eating !