[Mumbai, India] Lunch at Britannia & Co

Any foodie to Mumbai simply has to make a pilgrimage to Britannia & Co, one of the city’s culinary landmarks.

Established by Iranian emigre, Rashid Meherwan Kohinoor, in 1923, the eatery got its name from sheer pragmatism on the part of the founder then: a British licensing officer jokingly told Messr Kohinoor that if he gave his establishment a “British name”, he’ll obtain his license within 24 hours. Lo and behold - Britannia & Co was born!

Located then in Mumbai’s commercial and maritime hub near Ballard Pier, Rashid Kohinoor snapped up the corner lot of a building designed by Scottish architect, George Wittet - the same person who designed the iconic Gateway of India.

The late 2nd-generation owner was a larger-than-life Anglophile, Boman Kohinoor (Rashid Kohinoor’s son) who shared that, as the majority Hindu populace regarded corner establishments as unlucky, Rashid Kohinoor was basically able to buy the location at a bargain basement price.

I didn’t have the privilege to meet Boman Kohinoor, who passed away in Sep 2019 at a ripe of old age of 97. Today, Boman’s son, Afshin Kohinoor, steers the hallowed eatery as the owner-chef, churning out staples such as the eatery’s legendary Chicken Berry Pulao - fragrant basmati rice studded with subtly-spice marinated chicken pieces, and topped with sweet-sour barberries (tasting quite similar to dried cranberries), golden-fried caramelized onions, and toasted cashew nuts.

The dish was actually invented in 1982 by the late Boman Kohinoor’s wife, Bachan Kohinoor, when she returned from a holiday in Iran inspired by the Zereshk Polow (Persian Barberry Rice) she’d tasted there. She also brought back whole bagfuls of barberries, and Britannia & Co never looked back since.

We also had Lamb Dhansak - beautiful chunks of lamb smothered with thick lentil gravy. It’s served with scented rice topped with a brace of lamb meatballs.

We also ordered a Parsi Lagan Sara vegetable stew: potatoes, carrots, long beans in a tomatoey gravy.

Lagan Nu Custard - a Parsi wedding staple which is quite similar to creme caramel. Delicious version here:

Sweet Curd - topped with chopped pistachios, this was also a delight. In fact, if I do come back to Britannia & Co, it’s because of the sweets here.

Lovely meal - Parsi food in India can be described as Indianized Persian food: more gravies provided, as Indians love gravies on their food compared to Iranians. It was as if time stood still in there, amidst peeling paint on the walls, and a chandelier which looked like it hasn’t been cleaned for the past 100 years.

Britannia and Company Restaurant
Ballard Estate, Fort, Mumbai, Maharashtra 400001
Tel: +9122 2261 5264
Opening hours: 11.30am to 4pm Mon-Fri, 11.30am to 6.30pm Saturday. Closed on Sundays.


Love the flavour of barberries. And a well made dhansak is a thing of joy. Lucky you.

Our local Mumbai influenced restaurant has an annual Parsi week, with a special tasting menu, to co-incide with Zoroastrian New Year. They do a chicken dhansak as part of a thali, along with barberry flavoured rice. It’s part celebration of Mumbai’s food heritage and part the fact that, Donya, one of the restaurant’s owners, is from Iran.


They really are a storied eatery. Used to be a regular office lunch spot for my dad (along with the many other irani cafes and regional spots like Mahesh and Trishna around that area, which was the main office drag in Mumbai). We’d be treated to eating meals at or getting snacks from these places when we visited dad’s office during school breaks or before going to the movies (all the theaters used to be on that side of town).

Some years ago, I said I did not remember ever eating at Britannia. After much discussion that that was impossible, we stopped in for lunch when we were in the area next. Some of the usuals — berry pulao (though my mom kept telling me to avoid it :joy:), mutton dhansak, patra ni macchi (pomfret coated in chutney and steamed in a banana leaf), iirc a biryani too. Can’t remember what vegetarian dishes mom had. And there was dessert, always caramel custard of some sort for dad.

Sr. Kohinoor / Boman was absent when we arrived (his son was at the front), but came in towards the end of our lunch and stopped by the table to say hi to my parents and to show me his “pictures” (a compilation of royal family pics, esp the queen, and global celebrity visitors to the establishment). He was such a cheerful and friendly person, and even though the display was a bit much, he was truly the ambassador of Britannia.

I can’t say the food was memorable — there’s better Irani and Parsi fare available elsewhere, and at least equivalent all across that neighborhood in similar office-folk-focused lunch cafes. But it’s definitely atmospheric, and it was a lovely afternoon spent with my parents at one of their old haunts.

Glad you enjoyed your meal!


What a trip down memory lane your posts are. Thanks.


Boman Kohinoor was certainly legendary. How I wished I could’ve met that wonderful man.