Skip to main content

Sipping chai at Tea centre

Bombay is more known for its coffee culture. Although India is more known for its tea than coffee, its urban crowd is more hooked onto coffee. Thanks largely to coffee chains like Barista and Cafe Coffee Day that have sprung at every nook and corner of major cities across India. But I am not much of a coffee person. I cannot distinguish one coffee from another and coffee served at most of these coffee shops are full of lather that kills all the fun. I hate Baristas and Cafe Coffee Days, they're boring and done to death with, it's noisy with people yapping, loud television and all. Though people, especially the younger crowd are crazy about them and coffee. 

I like my cup of tea. A simple, yet extremely potent drink that revitalises my spirits and makes me look forward for the day at breakfast, that extends a warm welcome to me in office at about 11ish when I am about to start my work in full swing and finally wakes me up after a dull, but hard-worked afternoon. Which is why I was pleasantly surprised and glad I visited Tea Centre, the newly-renovated restaurant specialising in Tea at Churchgate, Bombay. But as it turns out, Tea Centre is not just about Tea, it also has a great breakfast spread. I have many a memory of good breakfasts. 

Breakfast is my favourite meals of the day and I always look forward to it. I am more of an English breakfast person. I do not much like the south-Indian breakfast; the fare usually available on many nooks and corners of India. I don't quite relish idli sambhar, dosa, pohwa and the works. 

One of my best breakfasts were had as a child at Moti Mummys' (my first floor neighbour and my Godmother; Moti means big or elder in this context) every Sunday. They were always looked forward to. Every Sunday I would get up early, by about 8, have bath do my prayers, get dressed and rush down to her house. They are quite punctual so whenever I was late, they used to come up to my house to call me. They never used to like that, I could sense. I don't blame them. 

Crisp toasts, fresh out of their newly-purchased Teefal Toaster - which they still use and, knowing them, will continue to use it for the rest of their lives - with restrained and supervised doses of butter ("Kayezad, you mustn't eat so much better, you will get cholesterol") topped with generous portions of strawberry jam would be served. There was variety. Orange marmalade or peach jam was also served, sometimes. Moti Mummy is an expert chef and I wonder whether there is anything that she doesn't know to cook! She makes the world's best strawberry jam. It was her jam that used to up the level of her breakfast by a few notches. And if its not toast-butter-jam, it's waffles or muffins, fresh out of the oven, crisp and hot to be had. It was divine. 

The other breakfasts that I used to enjoy were at the various Irani cafes. Some years back, every Wednesday, I used to visit one Fire-Temple (other than the one in my area that I goto  daily) and then stop over at the cafe to have a quick breakfast. So if the temple happens to be at Dhobi Talao, then it would be either Bastani (my favourite), Kayani or Sassanian Boulangerie. If the temple is in Fort, then it would have to be Yazdani. Standard fare: Bun-maska (with generous portions of butter) and chai. Simple as that. Now, my routine is the same without the breakfast. Bastani shut shop (they are under some litigation, I hear), and there is nothing so special about the other three. 

New York has a very rich breakfast culture. There were deli(s) (restaurant in local lingo) at every nook and corner of Manhattan that served all meals, starting from breakfast, opening as early as 6 in the morning. Americans start their days early so we used to typically have our breakfasts at around 7 in the morning. Here, in Bombay, 7 is the earliest that I wake up. Americans are heavy eaters, so huge portions are served, everywhere. One pancake served here is the size of three pancakes that I had at Tea Centre and i will talk more of those later. Several sachets of honey and pancake syrups are served with it, you pour and smear them over your hot and fresh pancakes and manipulate them in a way that they cover the entire base of your pancakes. Like an expert who cooks pizza and who doesn't leave one inch of space on the pizza bread uncovered without toppings, you cover your pancake's base with syrup. I always had a sumptuous breakfast before I set off, because once you are out, its uncertain when you will have lunch, etc. Sometimes you don't have time and you don't want to go hungry for a long time when travelling. 

Anyways, coming back to Tea Centre. It has a vast menu and has hundreds of tea options from various corners of India. Tea is served in earthen pots - the kinds you get tea served in, when travelling by train in Northern India I am told. 

It has a lavish offering of breakfast and unlike the other South-Indian fares, they serve continental and American breakfast too. I am glad it does, because in this price range - and Tea Centre is most reasonably-priced - it is the only option where you can get English breakfast. I also noticed that it serves lunch and dinner, but I won't talk about it since there are enough options in the city that do that. So what did I have? Kulhad Masala chai ('Tea liquor and milk with select aromatic spices served country style') and pancakes (3 small-sized pancakes). Sanjay Santhanam, my friend from Canara Robeco mutual fund who I was catching up with, had walnut or some nutted muffins, though they looked and tasted more like mawa cakes. 

The ambiance is nice, though some old-timers claim that the previous ambiance was better. I wouldn't know that as this was my first trip there. Service is very slow though and this could improve. It took them forever to get us our bill. The place is clean and tables and chairs are neatly arranged. Table-cloths are changed every time a customer leaves. Each table has a bell, you ring to call the waiter. Very English type. Good value for money. I wish there are more of such breakfast options in the city. 


  1. It is surprising that a city like Mumbai hardly has any breakfast options. Barring the occassional idli sambar or dosa's available there is little one can expect. Compared to this Delhi has chhole bhature, and kachori's/jalebis at most nooks and corners, which make for a sumptous breakfast especially in winters.


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog


As the country oldest mutual fund scheme, now US-64 Bonds, are set be redeemed, it’s tough to find an equally alternative investment. There are some that come closeThe oldest mutual fund scheme in India, Unit Trust of India (UTI)’ Unit Scheme – 64 (US-64), will soon be no more. After more than 40 years of existence, curtains will fall on the US-64 bonds that mature on 31 May 2008. UTI has already sent out letters to all bond-holders about the redemption; investors are told to submit their original certificates, take their money back and leave.

For investors like Kolkata-based, Kumaresh Mukherjee, 72 it’s the end of an era. Soon after he retired from Philips India, he invested his provident fund corpus in fixed – return instruments like company fixed deposits. An electrical engineer by profession, in 1995 he also invested Rs 12 lakh or around one-third of his retirement corpus in the erstwhile US-64. After years of above-average returns, then trapped doors and turmoil that shook the Ind…

Pay Credit Card Bills Through ATMs

Tired of being ignored by ICICI Bank credit cards by being left out of their premium services despite being a loyal customer, I got myself a new credit card by HDFC Bank. It's another thing that HDFC Bank promised me a gold card with a higher spending limit, but then threatened to give me a silver card. When I strongly protested to their ways, they issued me a gold card, but with a much-lower-than-promised spending limit. I think the credit card companies ought to be made more accountable through stricter laws that are widely publicised (I recently read an RBI advertisement in the paper that if a credit card company rejects your application for a credit card, it has to give the reasons in writing; I never knew that!!!) and ought to made to pay for promising one thing, but delivering something totally different. SBI Cards too chased me for a month last year and promised to give me a platinum card with a high spending limit. What I finally got was a much-watered down Gold Card with …

Teachers at Hindi Vidya Bhavan

Being a huge fan of the late Behram Contrator, the founding editor of Afternoon, I have read many of his legendary column, 'Round & About'. In one of them, he makes a poignant irony: that although teachers are our torch-bearers throughout our school and college days, give us education and make us capable of facing and surviving in this world, they would always remain in that one place, while their students would go places in thier lives. Like a teacher would still be at the bus-stop waiting for the bus, all throughout thier lives, while the child will grow in status and stuture and pass by in car. I found that to be very true, so I look back - the least I can do, and appreciate the teachers who have taught me and have a hand to make me who I am today. And while I am at it, let me also tell you about some of them who, unfortunately, I did not like.

I did my schooling (SSC)from Hindi Vidya Bhavan (HVB), Marine Drive, Mumbai. I passed out my school in 1992, so this post will …