Iconic Indian chef Jafferbhai Mansuri, who passed away at 83 after a cardiac arrest on Thursday in Mumbai, was fondly remembered by his son for his “lessons in humility and exceptional service to the community”.
“For years, he fed hundreds and thousands of people with his own hands and while at it, he showed the world how a biryani is made delicious by just putting one’s heart to it. Yesterday marked the end of an era,” Moin Jaffer Mansuri, the third of the master chef’s four sons and the fifth of his seven children, told Khaleej Times a day after his father was laid to rest in Mumbai’s Bada Qabristan on Marine Lines following maghrib prayers. He breathed his last earlier in the afternoon at the Breach Candy hospital after scripting a legacy that stretched seven decades, transcended borders and drew thousands of biryani faithful around the world, including those here in Dubai and rest of the country.
“It was his pure passion to feed people that made him truly special,” said Moin, who runs the eponymous Jaffer Bhai’s restaurant on Zabeel Road in Dubai and was all set to open a second outlet in Barsha on September 11. “All of that has been put on hold, obviously. He was due to come and inaugurate the restaurant. He had also vowed to spend at least a month with us this time in Dubai but it’s a promise he sadly couldn’t keep,” added the Dubai restaurateur, who last spent time with his father in Dubai in 2017 for “few days” on his way back to India from an Umrah trip in Saudi Arabia.
The legacy of the Biryani King
Popular as the ‘King of Bombay Biryani’, Mansuri senior earned a name for himself after serving Mughlai cuisine for years, taking over the small catering service company started in 1915 in erstwhile Bombay by his father Gulam Mohammed Mansuri. Mumbai remained his stomping ground and in 1973, he opened his first branch of the celebrated Delhi Darbar restaurant on Grant Road at 36. A second branch followed in Colaba in 1976 as the legend of his dum cooked biryani began spreading far and wide. Eight years down the line, he ventured into the Middle East with his first Delhi Darbar outlet in Dubai. That restaurant later gave way to a famous chain with several offshoots, including the one that Moin has been running since 2002 using recipes and ethics, he said, he absorbed from his father.
“He always reminded me that the foundation of his business was the reputation he painstakingly built over the years and that I must protect that name and image,” said Moin, while recalling a story of how his father started out by delivering biryanis on a bicycle he bought in the 1950s for what was “a stash of Rs180 (Dh9)” in those days. Jafferbhai’s restaurant in Dubai was voted one of the country’s best biryani outlets in an unofficial poll by two Emirati bloggers in 2017.
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