Mumbai’s Britannia restaurant loses its Kohinoor

97-year-old Boman Kohinoor passed away on September 25.

No longer will patrons at Mumbai’s Britannia & Co be told that they’re too skinny and they must eat more. No longer will they be persuaded into ordering ‘something sweet’ to end their meals. No longer will they hear tales and be shown photographic evidence about how the Queen herself has written Mr Boman Kohinoor a letter. Mumbai’s most beloved nonagenarian, Mr Boman Rashid Kohinoor, senior partner at the iconic Britannia & Co restaurant passed away earlier today at 4.45pm, after being in the ICU for over two weeks. He was 97 years old.

The legendary Boman Kohinoor

Boman Kohinoor was 20 years old when he took over the reins of Britannia & Co, founded by his father, Rashid, in 1923. During WWII, young Boman and his father spent nights at the restaurant, worried that it would be attacked, owing to its proximity to the city’s ports. Under his leadership, Britannia has gone on to become one of Mumbai’s most sought-after eateries for Parsi and Irani cuisine. Its berry pulav, sali boti and dhansak attracts hungry office goers (including Condé Nast staff) and tourists from far and wide, but it wasn’t just the food that made patrons want to return. Kohinoor personally visited every table, taking orders and sharing stories with diners.

Known for his incredible hospitality—“Try the Berry Pulao, it’s my wife’s recipe.” “You’re having only one Berry Pulao between two people? Are you sure?”—Mr Kohinoor will be remembered for his love for Queen Elizabeth and the royal family, whom he had the chance to meet in 2016, thanks to a little help from the internet.

Three years ago, when Prince William and the Duchess of Cambridge Catherine Middleton visited Mumbai, they invited Mr Kohinoor for an out-of-schedule meeting at The Taj Mahal Palace Mumbai, after this video went viral.

In the film, Kohinoor, who calls himself “the Royal family’s fan number 1”, invited the Royal Highnesses to his restaurant for a meal. “They were very kind and asked me about my restaurant and my favourite dishes there,” Kohinoor told Condé Nast Traveller in an exclusive conversation. “I told them about the berry pulao and how it’s made using my late wife’s recipe. They asked me if I could cook. I said no, but I serve my customers well. I told them: give my love to the Queen, and to [your] children Prince George and Princess Charlotte, too. I wish I had more time to speak, but I’m thankful for this opportunity.”

Rest in peace, Mr Kohinoor. We hope you’re enjoying that berry pulao in the sky.

Photo courtesy: The British Deputy High Commission Mumbai
Boman Kohinoor Chatting with his Customers
Boman Kohinoor chatting with diners at Britannia
Boman Kohinoor in his Restaurant, Mumbai
“The Royal family’s fan number 1.”


Published on CNN Traveller