A wine bar in Lower Parel ropes in actor- model Mandana Karimi to curate an authentic Iranian dinner for Mumbai’s foodies
Britania & COMPANY sits on one side of a street in Ballard Estate, ageing like a wise old man. To Mumbaikars, it’s a vestige of the city’s culinary history and a prized Irani haunt, apart from being model and actor Mandana Karimi’s favourite, too.
“It’s the only place where you get food that is close to what we eat in Iran. The owner [Boman Kohinoor] talks in Farsi and that makes me feel at home,” Karimi shares, ahead of a pop-up she’s hosting at a wine bar in Lower Parel. This is also Karimi’s first public sit-down meal after she launched her food venture, Mandana’s Kitchen.
She started the delivery kitchen in January in a bid to acquaint Mumbaikars with authentic Iranian food. “I have spent a long time in this city and I feel that there’s some misconception around Iranian and Parsi food. Parsis came to India many centuries ago, so they have built a new community and cuisine,” she explains, adding that the difference lies in the essence.
Take the berry pulao for example: in a Parsi kitchen, the rice is typically mixed and cooked with the berries — an influence possibly arising out of the way biryani, a quintessentially Indian dish, is cooked — whereas in Iran, the berries are lightly roasted in butter and served separately as a garnish.
Ashish Dev Kapur
Karimi excitedly shares these tidbits about Iran’s gastronomical culture, which explains why her tryst with food can be traced way beyond this three-month-old food-scapade. It began in her teens, albeit inadvertently. “Iranian culture is very similar to Indian culture.
So, when you are 12 years old, your family kind of starts telling you — it’s a very old-school thought — that you need to learn to cook because when you get married you will have to feed your husband,” she explains, adding that once she moved out at the age of 15, she needed to pick up the skill to survive.
From being pushed towards a regressive notion to launching her own venture, Karimi sure has come a long way, making this pop-up an even more exciting one. On offer are tender joojeh and kubideh kebabs, mirza ghasemi (an eggplant dish) and an aromatic and authentic berry pulao.
The restaurant’s owner, Ashish Dev Kapur, will be joining Karimi and helming the wine pairing bit of the pop-up. Speaking about it, Kapur says, “If you think about it, Persia has had wine for centuries and with the incredible flavours in Iranian food, the wines only accentuate the dishes.”
On April 5, 8 pm onwards
At The Wine Rack, Highstreet Phoenix, Lower Parel.
Cost Rs 3,000