SodaBottleOpenerWala: A Delicious Mouthful!

YAADON KI BAARAT
 I don’t know what it is about Parsi food – it seems to engender reminiscing over childhood moments and meals at Parsi friends’ homes. Last month I went over to SodaBottleOpenerWala (henceforth to be called SBOW, ’cause I am, well, lazy!) with the usual bunch of suspects (fellow food writers and best gal pals) for a Sunday luncheon, and literally every one of us had a story or three that involved childhood Parsi friends – and we all grew up in a different city across India. So there was definitely both nostalgia and sensory memories involved when we all gathered at SBOW, of Gurgaon and Mumbai fame (and now, Hyderabad too). The place was packed to the gills, and I felt sorry for the people waiting hopefully for tables, especially when a friend and wife walked in and had to deposit themselves at the bar, and were still there, when we left. But I totally get why its the rage. The food’s lovely, the ambience is quaint, cute and vibrant, and with old Hindi standards piping from speakers, not to mention the toy train that placidly chugs across the space, on tracks suspended above our heads, as well as the huge suspended copper tea kettle doing duty as a fountain, there’s really so much to love! You should take the time and effort (you will have to jostle a chair or two and navigate across the space) to check out the signage, posters and chalk written warnings that dot the interior. And any little kids visiting will demand a ride on the teeny metal bikes outside.
Interiors that will keep you entertained
Interiors that will keep you entertained

GETTING OUR DAARU ON
Drink is an essential Sunday lunch component, for us bewda public at least! Part of the fun of the cocktails at SBOW is the presentation, and saying the decidedly quirky names out loud. From goli soda bottles and old milk bottles to huge thick glasses, the drinks command attention. Over the course of the afternoon, we tried almost all their SBOW Specials, and also noted that there were beers, wines and hard alcohol aplenty on the bar menu. In other words time to get your drink on! Parsiana (INR 295), a concoction of Old Monk, plums and oranges was a bit cough syrup like, but nice. Daaru Wala Vimto (INR 325) was a potent tequila and five berries mix that won favor across the board, as did the Masala Vodka (INR 315). Sol of Colaba (INR 315) combined vodka and kokum – the latter being a favorite of mine, while the Brandied Bawi (INR 315) brought raspberry, brandy and sours together. Rustom Bantawala (INR 325) was mango plus vodka and the mango lovers on the table were happy people. Next time I want to try the Bloody Bawa – a Parsi version of Bloody Mary – hell ya!

EEDU MERI JAAN
Eedu, egg, is a constant in Parsi dishes. And to me, egg is and always will be, comfort food. So it went without saying that a few egg dishes came to the table that day. Eggs Kejriwal (INR 195) and Tomato Papeta Par Eeda (INR 165) were both demolished in short order, alongside Spicy Mushroom on Khari (INR 195) – khari biscuit topped with mushrooms and cheese, aka more comfort food to the likes of me, Chicken Baida Roti (INR 275), parantha stuffed with mince chicken and eggs (what is it about a meat stuffed parantha that is so satisfying?!) and Goan Sausage Pao (INR 425). To keep our cholesterol levels elevated, we supplemented these starters with the goodness of fried onions, the Kanda Bhajji (INR125). Oh and just because I am not mentioning much of the veg fare, doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist, just that I’m a confirmed non-vegetarian!
Carrier Time!
Carrier Time!

We were already somewhat full by this point (I feel you rolling your eyes and saying obviously) but we manfully moved on to the mains. Breach Candy Awesome Okra (INR 245) is slivers of fried okra in a lovely masala that will (a) make you forget that you’re eating bhindi, and (b) make you want to keep crunching! I was excited to try a dish called Bacon Keema Macaroni ((INR 425) but wasn’t thrilled with it once it arrived, while the Bhendi Bazaar Sheekh Parantha (INR 325) which I was not initially drawn to, turned out to be superb! You can’t go to a Parsi eatery and not eat Mutton Dhansak (INR 500) or its veg counterpart if you’re so inclined, as well as Paatra Ni Macchi (INR 645). Both dishes were expertly executed; special mention for the tiffin carrier presentation of the dhansak. But the star of the show and the dish I will insist on ordering on future visits, is that other Parsi specialty, Berry Pulao (INR 445/475; chicken/mutton). I have a weakness for rice with dry fruits and a hint of sweetness, especially when paired with meat and this one with nuts, berries and fried onions just hit the spot.

Caramel Custard that was spot on
Caramel Custard that was spot on

CHAI AND CUSTARD
Dessert had to include Caramel Custard (INR 145) an old standard that many places just don’t get right. Luckily SBOW did not disappoint. I also really loved the Toblerone Mousse (INR 195) which had a rich texture and a wonderful taste. The establishment also boasts a small bakery from where you can procure fresh baked Shrewsbury Biscuits and Naan Khatai. With a father who grew up in Pune, Kayani’s Shrewsbury biscuits are the stuff of legend, and having something akin available locally is a treat…not that it will stop me demanding and cajoling boxes of Shrewsbury from Kayani’s out of Pune-ites! We rounded out this meal with, what else, chai! Irani Special Chai (INR 60), Masala Ni Chai (INR 70) and Parsi Choy (INR 80) – black tea delicately flavored with lemongrass and mint helped us kick start our digestive systems, and we left a very happy bunch. One word of warning: if you’re doing valet, expect to wait a bit – given the location and full house.

Natasha Ali

Natasha's first foray into food writing has been with Chef at Large. Who knew all those years spent eating food, reading about it and looking for the next restaurant to try or watching cooking shows would have left such an indelible impression?! She's back in India after having spent over a decade in the US where she studied as well as taught in academia and now works as a content writer seeing as she can write about pretty much anything. Movie mad, obsessed with the English language, and never one to turn down a glass of good wine, cup of tea, or a good book, she's open to trying any dish once, she enjoys a variety of cuisines with favorites being Ethiopian, Thai, and Lebanese. Natasha covers Bangalore for Chef at Large and can be reached at natasha.ali@www.chefatlarge.in