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Mumbai’s iconic restaurateur Boman Kohinoor dies at 97



Mumbai’s popular restaurateur, Boman Kohinoor, the co-owner of Iranian-Parsi cafe Britannia & Co at Ballard Pier, died Wednesday at the city’s Parsee General Hospital. He was 97.

The iconic eatery was set up in 1923 by Rashid Kohinoor, whose family fled from Iran to avoid religious persecution and settled in Mumbai the year Boman Kohinoor was born. Boman took charge of the restaurant at a young age after his father died in an accident. For decades, Boman was the genial face of the restaurant — often seen chatting with visitors, recommending what should they order, sharing anecdotes and cracking jokes.

What Azra Goriawalla, 75, owner of Goriawalla Homemade Cakes, found remarkable was that Boman would be present at the restaurant everyday, even after he turned 90.

“Britannia is a place my family and I have visited many times over the years. The experience was always special because of its owner, Boman Kohinoor. I remember him being quite stern in his early years. He had mellowed down of late. However, he was extremely sharp for his age,” Goriawalla said.

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Vispi Balaporia, president of the Asiatic Society of Mumbai, said that Boman’s death was a great loss to everyone who has been part of the restaurant’s journey. “Britannia is a one-of-its-kind place in Mumbai… This place has a unique vibe and that was his (Boman’s) contribution. He took great pride in what he had established…,” she said.

The restaurant which initially served continental food had introduced Parsi cuisine later. Today, the cafe is known for dishes such as chicken berry pulav, mutton dhansak, mutton sali boti and caramel custard. Berry pulav, its signature dish, was introduced by Boman’s late wife, Bachan.

In April 2016, Boman had met the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge Prince William and Kate Middleton out-of-schedule at the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel after a video of his expressing his love for the British royal family went viral.

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