Jaffer Bhai Death: Jafferbhai Mansuri, Mumbai’s biryani king, dies with Covid | Mumbai News


MUMBAI: Jafferbhai Mansuri, who pampered the city’s palate with mouth-watering Mughlai cuisine for more than six decades, died of a cardiac arrest onThursday while being treated for Covid-19. The “biryani king of Mumbai” had first earned a name for himself with the Delhi Darbar restaurant and later with his eponymous Jaffer Bhai’s Delhi Darbar chain.
The 83-year-old is survived by four sons and three daughters. He was laid to rest at Bada Kabrastan in Marine Lines.
“Jafferbhai had not been keeping well for a month and was put on the ventilator at Breach Candy Hospital a week ago after he developed Covid-19 symptoms,” said a family member.
With its many branches in the city, from Grant Road to Dongri and Mohammed Ali Road to Mahim and Jogeshwari, Jaffer Bhai’s Delhi Darbar helped make Mumbai a hub of Mughlai food, with dishes ranging from chicken tangdi, raan sikandari and daal ghosht to his signature chicken and mutton biryani, which made his patrons nickname him the biryani king of Mumbai.
“Jafferbhai experimented with old and new recipes. He brought the flavour of Awadh (Lucknow) and introduced us Mumbaikars to a fascinating variety of dishes,” said senior Urdu editor Sarfraz Arzoo, and recalled once he attended a food show at a Worli five-star where Jafferbhai amazed the guests with his culinary breadth. “There were at least 40 varieties of biryani on display,” he said.
Jafferbhai learnt the right quantity of mirch-masala (spices) in Mughlai food the hard way, long before he broke away from his brother who retained the original Delhi Darbar at Colaba while he got the Grant Road branch; he called it Jaffer Bhai’s Delhi Darbar.
A young Jafferbhai had slogged in a tiny kitchen-cum-catering outlet at Islampura near the crowded Kamathipura in Grant Road. “Those days, religious leaders, preachers and politicians threw parties and ordered affordable food from Jafferbhai’s outlet. He would deliver the order on a rickety bicycle,” said retired Urdu professor Qasim Imam who knew him for more than two decades. “In his death, Mumbai has lost one of the last repositories of its adab (manner) and tehzeeb (culture),” he said.
After his sons joined him, the family expanded the business. Today, the chain has branches from Panchgani to Dubai.
Despite his success, Jafferbhai remained a humble man. “He would never eat alone and would invite guests to break bread with him (‘roti khaiyee’ was his favourite phrase),” said Arzoo.
A connoisseur of Urdu poetry, Jafferbhai not only attended mushairas, ghazal soirees and qawwali mehfils, he often hosted international poets, including Ahmed Faraz of Pakistan.
If a literary event ran short of funds or needed a sponsor, the organizers approached Jafferbhai who was just a phone call away. He would bail them out with both money and food.

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