Mister Merchant’s, Pune
1943. Guilds of traders return to India, armed with the most beautiful tapestries, sacks stuffed with whole spices, suitcases bursting with books, and minds full of rumination and Rumi.
One of these men was Mr. Merchant. Mr. Merchant is a half Parsi half Bohri man who grew up in cosmopolitan Bombay. The clubs, the colonial influences and his travels for work and meandering for pleasure make up the majority of his life. He worked with a trading house based out of Horniman Circle in Fort.
Mr. Merchant spent most of his younger years travelling the old Silk Road and parts of the Mediterranean, scouring local markets for precious and rare fabric and frankincense. What he enjoyed most of all was winding his way through the back alleys of the markets, finding tiny street vendors, and digging into plates of delicious food, or enjoying the labours of his rooming house hosts over their kitchen tables, in some places Mr. Merchant was privy to being invited to the homes of his counterparts, tables of privilege were laid with delicacies and family secrets.
Whether he was in Kolkata, Iran, Kochi or Constantinople, his plan for the day was always clear—find the goods, then find good food. He kept a small notebook with his favourite dishes, describing them in great detail, drawing diagrams and sometimes pasting an herb or spice! He recorded his travels through these recipes and annotations.
Mr. Merchant’s table back in Bombay was always a conversation piece with people gathering around it to sample and discuss the latest culinary discoveries. Simple kebabs sat beside more elaborate dishes, quick curries nestled next to slow cooked gravies, fragrant spices and herbs, crispy fresh garnishes and always the stories!
This became a gathering of gourmands of foodies of people whose palates were tuned into the nuances of fine food!
At Mr. Merchants we have decoded those recipes, sniffed out the most delectable and added them to our menu.
We hope you enjoy these and the journeys they’ve taken to your plate!