The food we serve at our roasterie is thanks to the founders of Rustom’s Parsi Bhonu and Cafe Lota, Kainaz Contractor and Rahul Dua. They started Rustom’s Cafe & Bakery to give people a taste of Parsi nibbles and baked goods and also to extend their menu beyond home style Parsi food. We recently sat down with them over a cup of coffee at our roasterie to learn more about the journey that led them to Rustom’s Bakery.
BT: Why did you move from Bombay to start your own restaurants in Delhi?
Kainaz: To introduce home style parsi food to Delhi! On most occasions, Parsi food is found in either Irani cafes, private residences or Parsi weddings. We wanted people to try Parsi food like it’s served at home. It was also a way to reintroduce real Parsi food that was beyond Dhansakh and Keema Pao and wasn’t an amalgamation of Irani and Parsi food. For example, Berry Pulao is technically Irani but people assume it’s Parsi. We wanted diners to understand the difference between the two cuisines and appreciate the finer nuances of home cooked Parsi food that hadn’t made an appearance on restaurant menus as yet.
BT: Why did you start Rustom’s Cafe & Bakery when you already have a well established Parsi restaurant?
Kainaz: I’m a thoroughbred Bombay girl, so snacking on maska pao, creamy chicken puffs, jam tarts and mawa cakes was something I missed dearly in Delhi. Parsi and Irani cafes have a huge baked goods legacy and we understood the potential for baked goods and snacks that are synonymous with these institutions. We also found a lot of people asking for sweet Parsi goods when they came to Rustom’s Parsi Bhonu so it was a natural progression to extend the brand to include those baked goodies. We began by testing our products first at several food festivals to see how people take to them and to our delight it was a smashing success. There’s been no looking back ever since!
BT: Why Blue Tokai?
Kainaz: Blue Tokai was a natural fit for us.
Rahul: I’ve been following you guys for two years now and when I started Cafe Lota, I was also absolutely new in the F and B space in terms of doing something on my own. I wanted to source coffee for Lota from India which was impossible until I found Blue Tokai. I’d also written to the Coffee Board of India and got no response from them and then when I saw Blue Tokai, it was obviously the best fit.
Produce driven places attract us more because everyone is doing cookie cutter models and the entrance of global coffee chains to India created such a hype but, sadly, no one looks at the excellence of the produce itself. Whether it’s coffee, beer or wine, restaurateurs like us are always looking for something unique and interesting to associate with and for us, Blue Tokai took the cake in terms of coffee profile and we just had to use it.
Kainaz: We’ve been using your coffee not only at Rustom’s and Cafe Lota but also at home!
Rahul: We were immediately drawn to how Blue Tokai is inherently Indian and we wanted to create an identity with a brand that’s grown in India because of its Indian essence - just like our restaurants. The community of indian-oriented artisans like us working in a field, whether it’s food, art or fashion, is quite tiny and such collaborations are a way to create a larger like-minded community.
Kainaz: More importantly, for us, it’s very important to pay attention to detail in everything that we do and we see that same attention to detail with everything that Blue Tokai does so it was an obvious choice for us.
BT: What’s a random fun fact about you two?
Kainaz: That Rahul learnt how to cook 4 years ago.
Rahul: I’m not even a chef, and neither is Kainaz.
Kainaz: Yeah, we’re just winging it.
Rahul: Yeah, we’re just home cooks - all our recipes are things our mums makes.
BT: What have you learned from this journey?
Rahul: The truth of the matter is that when you’re setting up something new, it always takes time to establish a set up and you have to be willing to live through the difficult parts and believe in what you’re doing and things will come through.
BT: Where else are you serving food from Rustom’s Bakery?
Kainaz: At our cafe! It’s located in the Khoj Studio and you can find us on Facebook.