My Parsi (and only) mother in law often complains about the contestant in Kaun Banega Crorepati (Who Wants To Be a Millionaire) who didn't know that dhansak was a Parsi dish.
The Parsi community is a fairly small one. I don't think there are enough Parsis in India to fill up Eden Gardens (a cricket stadium in Calcutta). So many would be unaware of the culinary treasures of this quirky community. But those who know of Parsis, and there would be many in Mumbai, would know that Parsis love their food. And it's not just dhansak but quite a few other dishes such as patrani machhi, farcha, lacy cutlet, custard and sali boti which are legendary too.
Strangely enough, Bandra, which is a hot bed of restaurants, doesn't have a good Parsi restaurant. Lebanese, Thai, Italian, Japanese, Mexican ... yes. Parsi? No.
There are quite a few Parsis who live at Bandra and there are a couple of Parsi colonies too. Yet the famous Parsi restaurants, Britannia (only lunch), Mocambo (only lunch), Paradise (I have never been there), Jimmy Boy (great memories but apparently down the drain) are all at the Fort area in extreme South Mumbai. It is as if the community which built South Mumbai never look bothered to look down to the burbs.
The closest to a Parsi restaurant at Bandra is Snack Shack at Pali Naka. they have four tiny tables under an awning. They home deliver too (26005010). Their chicken cutlets are pretty good, the filling is squishy and is a big hit whenever we have guests over. Their fare is slightly limited though as they have different dishes on different days of the week. As far as I remember it is dhansak (well made and very tasty) on Sunday, pulao daal (again very good but very little daal) on Thursday, Patrani Machhi (passable, Mamma used to love it) on the weekend, you get the idea. Snack items like cutlets, farcha, custard, sali par eendu (I prefer Kainaz's, she loves their's) and sali boti ( a bit sweet.. I like them, Kainaz doesn't, my in laws do) are there everyday. They serve sandwiches as well and my father in law is a big fan of their Club Sandwiches.
So what do you do if you want dhansak on a weekday?
I had some friends coming over the other day and one of them is a Parsi food fan. He is a Maharashtrian who grew up in South Mumbai and now misses Parsi food in Dubai.
I found out about this place called Cheron at Hill Road. You get dhansak and other non Parsi dishes there. It is a takeaway joint. Their dhansak was very substantial (more than Snack Shack's). Kainaz really loved it. That's the true test. For whatever its worth, my friends liked it too. But they were in their old boss' house.
The only problem was that we ordered chicken dhansak and each portion came with one big chunk of chicken on the bone. This is a problem if you have guest. Snack Shack's comes with smaller pieces. I think Cheron has a 20 % discount after 8 PM.
There is also a RTI outlet at the beginning of Turner Road at the Parsi Colony there. RTI's quality and taste is a bit inconsistent to put it politely.
Another very good Parsi option if you are entertaining at home is Elphinstone Club at Sterling, South Mumbai. They deliver home if you give a day's notice, pay cab fare and the order's five hundred plus. But their dhansak (very venerable), patrani machhi (best I have ever had and yet so cheap) and chicken farcha (so succulent that people are still raving about it) are show stoppers. They send the food in a container and you have to unload it and give the container back. Let me know if you are interested and I will mail you their number. They deliver to non members too.
Here's hoping that one day we will be able to chant the Parsi war cry jaamva chaalo ji (let's go to eat) and walk into a good Parsi restaurant at Bandra.
Watch this spot for my laments on the lack of Bengali restaurants in Bandra.
Note: Most dishes mentioned at Snack Shack and Cheron are less than Rs 100 (2 USD) each. The stuff at Elphinstone is very reasonable too for the quality and the portions are as a big as a Parsi's heart.