Tale of a tangy treat

The paperweight gift at the spice giant’s centenary (1883-1983) function, embossed with the trademark ship motif  

An especially wet week, at the end of the season suited to snacking on hot bhajias and vadas with chutney, is the right time to recap a spicy story.

I was researching a column on Cinema Road, which backs Metro theatre. Cornering the lane is May Rose Restaurant, at one end of Kapadia Chambers. Formerly called Ava Chambers, the 1938 property first belonged to Gustad Khodadad Irani. While his wife’s name graced this awning, his father lent his to Khodadad Circle at Dadar TT.

Meeting old residents here, the tale of a tangy treat unravelled in the home of Keki Poonjiaji, great-great grandson of Mancherji Poonjiaji, who founded MM Poonjiaji & Co, with his brother Maneckji.

Living at Fort in the early 1840s, their wives hawked homemade pickles to British troops. The soldiers missed flavour in bland English food. They packed these condiments in glass bottles which they would bring back from London.

“Because they exported from the docks, a ship motif illustrates the 1883-launched green label,” explains Poonjiaji’s grand-niece Avan Pollard. Major Grey’s Chutney, as it was known, was mixed mild, in a nod to that officer. Like the range’s other products, it contained no preservatives, just sugar and vinegar.


MEHER MARFATIA

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