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15.12.2014

Keeping with the tradition of starting a Bohri meal with something sweet, we begin our story today with Mrs Kapadia. At roughly 5 feet and three inches, Mrs Kapadia doesn’t exactly tower over you, but her enormous smile and SUV-size heart more than make up for her petite frame. Sitting in her leafy balcony at Casa Kapadia in Colaba, she chats with us about her love for food, her need to feed, and her natural cooking instinct.

The sprawling Colaba apartment is where Mrs Kapadia and her son Munaf run their two-month old community meal venture, The Bohri Kitchen (TBK), where every Saturday, they serve an authentic Bohri Muslim meal to a group of diners no larger than eight people. While you don’t need to come with a partner, TBK does have a ‘no serial killer policy’, so you need to either know someone from the family or be a friend of a friend of a friend to attend.

Just then, the stars of the meal make their entrance, autumn coloured mutton biryani, alongside gorgeous paaya soup. The biryani is full of flavour and soft mutton pieces. The soup, “cooked on a slow flame for hours”, is a wholesome broth with green chillies, garlic, pudina and jeera.

“I was least bothered with cooking when I was in my mother’s house. It’s only after I got married did I really start spending time in the kitchen. My mother-in-law gave me the training of my life,” chuckles Mrs Kapadia, while keeping an eagle eye on the steady stream of food coming to our table.

We sip on refreshing rose syrup-infused watermelon juice, while Munaf recounts how while growing up, he never truly appreciated his mother’s cooking. “Everyone who came to our home always raved about the food. But for us, it was an everyday meal. It was only after I started sharing my lunch with some MBA friends, did I come up with the idea for TBK."

We pause for a moment to take in the sights and sounds around the table. Our dining companions ooh and aah at the arrival of breadcrumb coated chicken drumsticks and masala potatoes. Crunchy and well-marinated in ‘typical Bohri spices’, the gigantic drumsticks are succulent, while the spicy, slightly sweet potatoes have us almost licking the masala off the plate.

Mrs Kapadia smiles and nods. “Do you like it? The chicken was marinated overnight for the seasoning to really soak into the meat.”

Family Venture Capitalists

The Bohri Kitchen is a true family business with Mrs Kapadia’s husband pitching in with the produce. “He insists on doing all the shopping. He loves to go to Colaba market for the meat. He has friends there. And the spices? It’s only Hakimi stores in Crawford market, for our Bohri masalas and grains.”

Our next course arrives, smoked chicken angaara accompanied by soft sesame buns. With a fried onion gravy and thick tomato base, the chicken is rich with hints of smoked coal. We mop this up with broken bits of bun, hoping that we have room in our stomachs for paaya soup and mutton biryani, both on their way out of the kitchen.

We ask Munaf, who has worked on several different start-ups in the past few years, if he’s imbibed his mother’s culinary skills and before he can respond, Mrs Kapadia answers. “Scrambled eggs, omlettes and banana milkshake. That’s all he can make, but they’re all really very good.” We take her word for it and ask her to share some of her cooking tips with us.

High quality ingredients?

A special way to marinate the meats?

“Nothing. Everything I do in the kitchen is andaaz se. As long as I have my own space, I’m happy. I don’t like too many people around me, telling me what to do.”

Just then, the stars of the meal make their entrance, autumn coloured mutton biryani, alongside gorgeous paaya soup. The biryani is full of flavour and soft mutton pieces. The soup, “cooked on a slow flame for hours”, is a wholesome broth with green chillies, garlic, pudina and jeera.

We’re bursting at the seams, wondering how we’re going to make it down the stairs, when dessert is served. Munaf assures us that this is the last course of the meal. We sigh sadly (but also in relief) to find no traditional Bohri dessert, but bowls of vanilla ice cream, chocolate sauce and pan-roasted almonds.

You Can Visit Too

“Right now, we’re keeping TBK low key, but we’ll see where it will take us. We don’t have plans for a restaurant, but hey, you never know, right?”

Thanking the mother-son duo for the meal, we stumble down the wooden staircase of the building, not before being offered some mukhwas by Mrs Kapadia.

A fitting end to a sweet beginning.

Getting there: To sign up for a meal at The Bohri Kitchen, RSVP on their Facebook page here, Rs 700 per head. TBK also does takeaway and catering orders for up to twelve.

Sponsored: Click here to order from Scootsy.

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