What is it about Old Iranian bakeries in Bombay? The warm aroma of delicious treats, tucked beneath streaky old glass counters? The promise of an over-sweet cup of milky tea with freshly baked bread & jam? Or is it the mad clamor for the ‘hot-out-of-oven’ loaves while the ‘family run’ cashier/ proprietor yells out above the din? Really can’t pick just one reason –‘tho I think topmost on my list would be just sitting put in a corner, wolfing down a warm puff or two & watching the eccentricities of Bombay, pass me by.
For me spending time at these old checked-floored joints is what life is all about.
This particular piece is not about the history of the Old Iranian Cafes, strewn across South Bombay. Neither is it bout the swift shutting down of most of these historic structures-as I’m quite sure I won’t be able to do enough justice here. What I will rant on about ‘tho, is my love and greed for all things baked; in an environment that can only be described as sweetly nostalgic!
And today, I’ll rave on about a certain favorite- B. Merwan & Co.
B.Merwans & Co
Among the many old and not so old Iranian cafes in Bombay, quite unseemingly hyped is café Merwan & Co – High Class Bakers & Confectioners, as they boldly announce on their chipped facade. Just a quick skip across Grand Road railway station is this beguiling hot spot of yore. Really, there’s no force, strong enough in the universe, which could’ve stop me from diving right in.
Sea of Old furniture
Once in and having adjusted my faculties to the dimness of the place, I had to elbow my thru the thronging masses, ganged up for the freshly baked goodies. Dizzy with the mouth-watering aromas I finally seated myself amongst the sea of scruffy, well-worn café furniture. Spotted almost at once by the ever-vigilant staff , in less than 30 seconds, my order was placed & dusted!
Always the experimental sort, I opted for the Mawa Samosa instead of the much-lauded Mava Cupcake – fingers drumming eagerly on the cool marble counter top.
Before I could settle deeper into the woodwork & take in the unhurried goings on of the office going (Cafe B. Merwans,with it’s hot omelet bun, is a notorious den for the old Bombay office goer) a heaping saucer was placed before me – along with the customary sticky sweet tea. Yes, the staff here are quicker than summer lightning!
The delectable Mava Samosa
The Mava Samosa or Puff- flakey as promised & stuffed with fragrant Mawa (thickened sweet milk that’s dried) is deliciously browned & light as a feather. I practically inhaled them down & would’ve easily buzzed thru another couple dozen had I not locked my eyes on the next big thing there- the Almond Cupcake…deep sigh.
Two Cute- Almond Cupcakes
…the early afternoon wore on, as it usually does and I took my last, longing eyeful at the scrumptious, creaking counters, wishing that I were 20 again ‘coz metabolism is no longer a friend. Grudgingly, I moved away from the sweet madness that is B Merwans.
Heard from the grapevine that this brave & battered old café is shutting down soon. All I can do at this point is vow to take in as much of the goodness (and heaps of the Iconic Mawa Cupcake) while I can- even if it means doing a few more rounds on the treadmill…