The Parsi community—Zoroastrians who originally immigrated to India from Persia—has long been an integral part of Pune society, and though their numbers may be dwindling in the 21st century, their cultural influence is still a mainstay. One of the best ways to get insight into the community is with an early-morning tasting tour. Start out in the historic Camp district, near the army cantonment, where many of the city’s “Irani cafés” and other Parsi businesses are concentrated. Foremost among them: Kayani Bakery, whose wall-mounted menu seems like it hasn’t changed since its first day of business in 1955. Doors open at 7:30 a.m., and you’ll want to get there before 9 a.m. to score one of their famous Mawa Cakes (butter pastries laced with cardamom) or Shrewsbury biscuits—both absolute highlights of any trip to Pune. Right outside the bakery is a bicycle fruit vendor who’s credited with having the best guavas in the city; top one with chilli powder for a spicy treat (for less than a dollar). Next, round the corner to the atmospheric Cafe Yezdan to try another Parsi staple: a bun maska (bread and butter) dipped in Irani chai. You’ll want to spend some time after this photographing the historic buildings lining the Sharbatwalla Chowk neighborhood. For your third and final stop, hop in a cab and head back north toward the hotel, where the decades-old Vohuman Cafe has recently shifted to a new location. While locals have been up in arms over their beloved institution losing its iconic original setting, they’re placated by knowing that the cheese omelet and bhurji eggs are just as delicious as ever.
Kayani Bakery and Cafe Yezdan are both in the Camp district, 10 to 15 minutes south of Conrad Pune; Vohuman Cafe is just a two-minute drive from the hotel (we recommend taking a car, since the main roads can be tricky to walk).
KAYANI BAKERY: 6 Dr Koyagi Rd., East St., opposite Victory Cinema, Camp; +91-20-2636-0517; facebook.com/Kayani-Bakery-Pune-250108190775
CAFE YEZDAN: 623 Sachapir St., Sharbatwalla Chowk, Camp; +91-95454-59850; facebook.com/pages/Cafe-Yezdan/194652257273478
VOHUMAN CAFÉ: Millennium Star, Dhole Patil Path, near Ruby Hall, Sangamvadi; +91-93733-23263; facebook.com/vohumancafe