Irani cafes are Iranian-style cafes in South Asia. They were originally opened by Zoroastrian Irani immigrants to modern India and Pakistan in the 19th century. Today, Hyderabad boasts the largest number of Irani cafés, which are very popular for Irani chai (tea). Younger Iranis with higher education and better skills have become interested in more lucrative vocations in India and abroad, and they do not wish to carry on with the legacy of the Irani cafés of their parents. In the 1950s, there were 350 Irani cafés; today, only 25 remain. One of the most popular eating places is the 102-year-old Kyani Café, a heritage landmark in south Mumbai.
Journalist Sarika Mehta describes them: “The classic format of these cafes is basic with a subtle colonial touch; high ceilings with black, bent wooden chairs (now cane in some cafes), wooden tables with marble tops and glass jars that allow a peek into the goodies they hold. With huge glass mirrors on the walls to create a feeling of space, visitors are greeted with eagerness and a whiff of baking. The speed of operations is impressive and service quite hassle-free."
Mumbai cafés may serve ‘bun maska’ (bread and butter) and ‘paani kam chai’ (a strong Iranian tea), or khari chai (very strong tea), mutton samosas, and Kheema Pavs, akuri, berry pulao, vegetable puff, vegetarian/chicken Dhansak (a spicy broth with lentils, pulses) and Biryani, cherry cream custard, cheese khari biscuits, plain khari biscuits, coconut jam and milk biscuits and Dukes Raspberry drink. The Parsi Bhonu (meal) is available at most Irani restaurants.
Writing for the Hindu Business Line, on "Mumbai's Irani hotspots", Sarika Mehta stated, "The classic format of these cafes is basic with a subtle colonial touch; high ceilings with black, bent wooden chairs (now cane in some cafes), wooden tables with marble tops and glass jars that allow a peek into the goodies they hold. With huge glass mirrors on the walls to create a feeling of space, visitors are greeted with eagerness and a whiff of baking. The speed of operations is impressive and service quite hassle-free."
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- Mehta, Sarika (6 October 2006). "Mumbai's Irani hotspots". The Hindu Business Line. Retrieved 20 November 2017.
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- India's Iranian cafes fading out by Jayshree Bajoria for BBC News, Mumbai
- Mumbai's Irani hotspots – Sarika Mehta in Hindu Business line
- AOL News Blog - Sunanda Sudhir
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