Lace curtains, antique cabinets, wooden chairs, glass ceiling lanterns and family photographs stud the little room, as Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da plays over the speakers. The space is a replica of her own home, from the geometric tiles to the creamy yellow walls, smiles chef-owner Kainaz Contractor, who has tied up with Café Lota’s Rahul Dua for this charming 18-seater Parsi restaurant named after her father.
The good stuff
Every dish is authentic. Both vegetarians and non-vegetarians will be spoilt for choice and, for egg lovers, this is heaven. All masalas are hand-pounded and roasted by Contractor’s aunt in Nagpur.
We started off with all the three varieties of perfectly fried pattice, Kheema, Soya and French Beans Na Pattice (Rs.295 each): two golden semolina-crumbed cutlets to a plate, with egg wash and a perfectly centred stuffing. The French beans pattice spilled precisely chopped beans when cut open. All the pattice options are hearty, so just order any one and share.
Next came Eeda Cheese Na Cutlets (Rs.225), six beautifully crisp egg-and-cheese balls, stuffed with chopped boiled egg and Amul cheese. Despite being deep fried, the cutlets were not greasy. Ask for the divine spring onion chutney to go with it.
The Paatra Ni Machi (Rs.295) uses tilapia fish in a delicately flavoured green chutney. It was steamed to just the right level of flakiness and the chutney was not overpowering. The Chicken Vindaloo (Rs.295) is made with sambhar masala—not the south Indian sambar powder, but the Parsi one, pronounced sum-bhaar, which, in the Contractor family, blends garlic, chilli and spices in oil—and sugarcane vinegar (barrel-matured) from EF Kolah in Navsari, Gujarat; it is milder than the toddy vinegar used in Goan vindaloo. It was divine. We also tried the Murghi Na Farcha (Rs.295), six pieces of beaten chicken breasts, marinated, crumbed in semolina and deep fried. It tasted very Western, almost like a schnitzel.
For our mains, we tried Jardaloo Marghi Ma Salli (Rs.395), a delicious, tomato-based, sweet-and-sour chicken dish with apricots. The Kaaju Ni Murghi (Rs.395) was somewhat reminiscent of a Punjabi cashewnut curry chicken, but not as heavy. My vegetarian companion had a Tarkari Ni Kari (Rs.325), a piquant gravy with diced vegetables. All of us, vegetarian and non-vegetarian, were blown away by the Bheeda Par Eedu (Rs.200), crisp fried lady’s fingers topped with a steamed egg. When cut through, the egg yolk ran beautifully over the bhindi, the creamy and the crisp textures playing off each other on the tastebuds. As accompaniment, we had wonderfully soft Malai Na Paratha (Rs.80).
The quirky menu
For a light yet flavourful option, there’s the Dhan Dar Patio (Rs.395), a yellow dal with a tomato chutney and rice with fried onion, or the satisfying Mutton Dhan Sak (Rs.495), which comes with a cucumber salad and rice. It goes easy on the tomato, which is how Contractor says her family makes it. Or order the zesty Gajar Meva Nu Achaar (Rs.80), a chutney with apricots, raisins and carrot, and just have a few bites of that with the paratha.
A must try is the Caramel Custard (Rs.225). I love one that doesn’t smell or taste overtly eggy (a contradiction, since it is an egg custard) and this passed the test. The thin caramelized syrup was burnt to a rich flavour.
Overall, the food is flavourful and wholesome, like great home food with the right professional touch. All you need after this meal is a long nap.
Rustom’s completely ignores the old property mantra of “location, location, location”. Situated smack in the middle of a crowded and narrow road with no parking—unless you go post 8pm—it adds to the angst by not taking reservations.
So far as the food is concerned, the Kanda Papeta Par Eedu (Rs.200), turmeric potatoes topped with a steamed egg, was over-moist and fell flat on flavour. I liked the concept of Parsi Chai (Rs.100), water steeped in lemongrass and mint and brewed with tea leaves, but we could taste neither herb, possibly because the tea was overbrewed.
Rustom’s Ginger Fizz (Rs.120), a neon-green fizzy drink that arrived in a hurricane glass, tasted weird, less gingery and more minty. The Pallonji’s Sodas (Rs.60) adds the authentic Parsi touch but, unfortunately, tasted somewhat ghastly. The Raspberry is sugary sweet and the Lemon is, well, unlemony.
A meal for three cost us Rs.2,600.