Sir Ratan Tata Institute

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Full disclosure: It’s been a life-long love affair. I love the Parsis and all things Parsi. I don’t need a reason to celebrate them or be with them, but I had one this time. It was the heralding of spring — Jamshed e Navroze (21st March). What better way to celebrate this auspicious day than being with a fabulous and lovable Parsi family? And, that too in the most legendary of all Parsi institutes. The iconic Sir Ratan Tata Institute (RTI) which has been quietly changing lives for the past 94 years. It was established in 1928 by Lady Navajbai Tata to provide employment to women from less privileged backgrounds and encourage them to become self-sufficient, in the cooking, tailoring and Montessori teacher training units. Cooking up true Parsi bhonu in it’s central kitchen at Hughes Road is what we’re focused on.

SURPRISE SURPRISE
I am surprised. Very pleasantly so. The gorgeous model and TV host, Parizad Kolah Marshall and her brothers Hanoze and Sheroy have grown up on Parsi food at home. RTI’s snacks have always been cherished. But, none of us were aware of this spacious room in RTI, Hughes road. What a joy to catch up with my long time buddy, the brilliant Hanoze Kolah, fitness expert and owner of the hugely popular state of the art fitness center.

DINING WITH THE DAPPER
Captain Sheroy Kolah of the merchant navy, his lovely wife Arnaz, are all part of our family lunch. Needless to add, Parizad and family are foodies. She makes time from her busy schedules as TV host to make the most exquisite hand made dark chocolate truffles which are madly delicious. Over a happy eating session, we celebrated spring.

LANDMARK DÉCOR

We have lunch in the historic 94 year old building where RTI has been headquartered since inception. This neat space with glass counters is laden with freshly baked snacks and goodies. On an advance request, one can book the space and order from their menu. Attentive full service is provided too.

JAMVA CHALO JEE

We are delighted and our cup of joy brims over. It’s the exquisite balance of sweet and spicy in the velvetty Saas Ni Macchi which makes it my favourite. Crispy and plump Chicken Farcha, made with the sweetness of jardaloo and crunchy potato Sali Chicken, flavourful Kid Gosht and the vegetarian star dish is the Bheeda Par Edu (okra topped with egg). We marry the mellow Dhun Dal with the sweet and fiery Prawn Patio and we end with the flavorsome Mutton Pulao, laden with Dal. Mithu Monu with Sev and Sweet Dahi and the wobbly velvetty Lagan nu Custard are delicious too.

Is that a lot? No way! It’s a Parsi feast. An hour after lunch, we taste the RTI signatures, cutlets, chicken quiches, puffs, pies and sandwiches. Chef patisseur Hooma Billimoria pops in with soft Lemon Swiss Rolls and the Lemon Tarts. The RTI is brilliantly managed by Shernaz Buhariwala, who is part of the food division by Arzan Sabawalla, Hooma Billimoria and Kaiyosh. The kitchen staff of more than 50 underprivileged women, deliver deliciousness across the city. Our Parsi family gives its stamp of approval. Ghanu majenu.

I’M AN ADMIRER AND A STUDENT AS WELL

I’m an admirer and a student of not just Parsi cuisine but also the Parsis. I spent five years studying everything Parsi (researching and writing Dr RP Soonawala’s biography). They are unmatched for their lust for life, joie de vivre and brilliance .They top all professions, like their famous Eedu (eggs they put on top of all dishes), the finest lawyers, doctors. industrialists, philanthropists. RTI is a prime example of Parsi excellence. It not only cooks up authentic Parsi bhonu, retails it, delivers lunch boxes and does it all for a good cause!

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