Bhonu Queen Tanaz Godiwalla opens a resort in Nashik

Mumbai’s top Parsi food caterer serves up Summer Vines, a 14-room property

Tanaz-Godiwalla-SummerVines387If you’re a true-blue Mumbaikar, chances are you’ve sampled Tanaz Godiwalla’s mouth-watering food at a Parsi wedding or navjote. The city’s undisputed ‘Bhonu Queen’, [lagan-nu-bhonu means wedding food] Godiwalla prepares massive feasts of multiple courses, which typically include favourites like chicken farcha, patra ni machhi and pulao dal. (If you’re wondering, dhansak is never served at weddings; it’s considered inauspicious.)

A few years ago, Godiwalla, along with some friends, bought about 25 acres of land near Deolali (near Nashik) to build a house and “some kind of plantation,” she laughs. “And when I’m much, much, much older, it’s a great place for retirement. As time went by, the place just grew on us. The area is so pretty that we wanted to bring people here to enjoy the surroundings.”

Summer Vines at Nashik
Summer Vines at Nashik
So last week, the Bhonu Queen and her partner, Dr Tanaz Boyce, opened the doors to Summer Vines, a 14-room boutique resort. Here, you can not only share in the peace, quiet and beauty, but sample some fantastic food. “People are always asking me how they can eat more of my Parsi food, but opening up a restaurant and running it 24/7 is not for me,” Godiwalla admits. “At Summer Vines, people will get the chance to sample my food in a different environment. The menu will be simpler, but my signature dishes will be available off and on.” For Godiwalla, this also presents an opportunity to prepare non-Parsi cuisine, items such as baked dishes, even Chinese and Goan food. And because meals are included for guests, she can customise menus and cater to different occasions and tastes. “If kids are around, we might add a pasta. I might even do a cooking session if people request it!”

But if last week’s menu was any indication of what’s available, we doubt guests will demand anything other than Godiwalla’s trademark, delicious Parsi cuisine: the four-course lunch included white kaju mutton, kanda papeta (sliced white potato with onions) and sagan nu prawn. Dinner included roast mutton, fish fry with green chutney, and parathas. Desserts included caramel custard—of course—and kulfi. At breakfast, you can order eggs or feast on aloo parathas, Parsi kheema and sweet sev vermicelli. A surprise high tea consisted of a pattice-like delicacy and onion bhajias served with pudina chai (with fresh mint grown on the farm).


Is there a wine brand on the cards? “Absolutely not,” declares Godiwalla. “We only grow table grapes on the land and export them to Europe. My forte is food. I don’t even worry about the rooms—all that is handled by my partner, Tanaz. She has a real eye for it. She takes the tiniest things into account—making sure the toilet roll is folded into an arrow facing downwards, the potted plants in the rooms. You’ll see that our guest rooms haven’t been done up by architects. We’ve done our own interiors. They’re a little English, all in pastel shades with small touches. The place has a homely feel. It’s tasteful, down-to-earth, pretty and rustic. There’s no steel or granite or marble. We’re playing with the wind!” She laughs. “It really can’t be more bawa!”

Tanaz-Godiwalla-Summer-Vines247For both Godiwalla and Boyce, Summer Vines is a true labour of love. “The one thing I have learnt in my career in catering is that it’s not about the money,” says Godiwalla. “It’s about gaining people’s appreciation and love and affection. The money will follow that anyway. You have to win the respect, love and trust of people. I want people to visit the property and want to return with friends and family. I hope they come to celebrate special occasions. That’s what is really fulfilling.”

(Doubles from Rs2,000 per person for room only; Rs4,000 per person inclusive of all meals. Website)

Published on CNN Traveller