Because We Invented the Sizzler

January 2, 2012 8:30 am

Photo: Sheena Dabholkar.

If you look up the origin of the sizzler on the Internet, you’ll end up wasting a lot of time with no conclusive results to show at the end of it. We speak from experience. But, we have good reason to believe that the birthplace of the popular albeit not terribly sophisticated dish is in fact Mumbai, where it was created back in 1963. The invention can be attributed to a certain Firoz Erani, a Mumbai resident who opened a garden restaurant by the name “The Sizzler” near Excelsior Cinema in Fort, to showcase his culinary experiment.

It occurred to Erani to serve a hunk of meat, most commonly chicken or beef, cooked as you would a steak, on a hot iron or sizzling plate with boiled vegetables and house fries as accompaniments. Once plated, the dish let off billowing steam and in that spectacle of steam lied its big appeal. Soon after opening The Sizzler, Erani relocated to the Isle of Man in the UK, where he launched the second outpost of the restaurant. In 1967, after Erani passed away, his son Shahrookh Erani, who had trained and worked alongside his father at The Sizzler in Bombay, opened Touche in Breach Candy, where he kept his father’s culinary legacy alive. In 1971, Shahrookh Erani moved to Pune, taking with him the restaurant, which he renamed The Place Touche The Sizzler. Four decades hence, the restaurant continues to be the ultimate sizzler joint for residents of Mumbai and Pune. If you have already visited the restaurant, you might also be familiar with a concise version of this history printed on their menus.

On the web, Japan and America are debated to be the birthplaces of the sizzler, but in Mumbai, Erani paved the way for this dining trend, which is still going strong. It was Touche, in fact, that inspired Kailash Seth to set up Kobe Sizzlers at Opera House in 1975. In addition to three Mumbai outposts and several others across India, Kobe Sizzlers currently has branches in New Zealand, Muscat and Dubai. Though their menu offers a large selection of vegetarian sizzlers, most with a slab of paneer as the replacement for steak, Seth said that the sizzler was intended to be a non-vegetarian meal. Unlike The Place Touche The Sizzler, which has undergone several menu changes since 1971 to include Chinese and Indian style sizzlers, the Kobe menu is the same as it was in 1975. “The popularity of sizzlers is hardly surprising,” said Seth. “It’s a wholesome meal and a tasty one; we’re grateful to Erani for it.”

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