Kyani & Co.: Walking Through History From Bombay’s Oldest Bakery

As the first light of dawn hits the weathered edifices of South Bombay, Kyani & Co. is already bustling with life. The ovens are fired up in the wee hours of the morning as batch upon batch of bouncy white pavs tumble out. The kheema - so revered by everyone from the local college kids to artist MF Hussain is being flavoured with their secret spices. Pots of tea are set to a rolling boil, the lifeblood of the staff as well as the patrons. So when the sun finally trickles into the worn but regal room, which has stood unaltered for over a century - this iconic cafe is ready and raring to face a new day. 

Owner Farokh Shokri surveys his kingdom from his seat behind the till as he has for over two decades. The space itself has seen little change in the 115 years since it opened its doors, with the Burma teak furniture, vintage photographs and red checkered tabletops becoming a visual that's seared into the public eye. The menu has undergone some updates over time to include more Parsi dishes and most recently a modest Chinese menu. But the old fan favourites never fade. Regulars step in the same way they have every day for the past 30 years. Be it for a Bun Maska-Chai or their favourite Chicken Pattice, it is a community staple where generations come and go, all feeling like Kyani is a little piece of home.

A visit here is like stepping back in time. Where the food is just as it was, the prices are low, the same familiar faces fill the table next to you and a good time is guaranteed for everyone. Welcome to unadulterated Bombay.

Though it may seem like an unassuming choice, every trip here must begin with a Bun Maska-Chai, it's just the rule. Hot, sweet tea with their fresh liberally buttered bread is one of the most revitalising things around. Try it after a long night out or when you have a long day ahead to feel it melt your troubles away. Though their Kheema is the perfect choice at any time of the day, it's most popular around breakfast. Add a half-fried egg on top or mixed in as a Kheema Ghotala for a hearty plate. If you're looking for a mid-morning snack, try their range of Chicken Puffs, Rolls and Patties all fresh from the bakery and ready to quell all your hunger pangs until lunch.

Their Parsi offerings have become almost as iconic as the place itself in recent years with the Dhansak being the most renowned of the lot. If you're looking to try something new sample the tangy tomato-based Salli Boti with mutton chunks topped with potato straws or a rich Masoor Gosht with dense split lentil dal and a warm, enveloping spice mix. This is home-style cooking at its finest.

Stray from their staples and wander over to indulge your sweet tooth at their bakery counter where they have a little something for everyone. For the more traditional experience try the Mava Cakes, Shrewsbury Biscuits and Parsi Custard. If you're feeling a bit more experimental try some Cherry Custard with Jelly or even opt for an icing-heavy slice of cake. However it is you plan to spend your stomach space, be sure to wash it all down with a bottle of chilled Raspberry Soda and grab a box of Kharis and even good ol' Fortune Cookies on your way out!