Irani Winery at Napa Valley – California

Dear Friends,

This may interest some of you.

Found  little bit of old Persia in California’s  Napa Valley where you may sample the Shiraz amongst other wines made

by a Persian named Darioush Khaledi of Shiraz.


Rusi Sorabji

The Founder

One such synthesis of wine and art is Darioush Winery. It was founded in 1997 by Iranian born, Darioush Khaledi. He grew up in Shiraz, one of Iran’s prominent wine-growing regions and some theorize it may be the origin of the Syrah/Shiraz grape. His father was a hobby wine maker and so he grew up around wine.

Darioush was formerly trained as a civil engineer and had a career in construction. He left Iran in the late 1970’s and emigrated to Southern California where he was faced with the challenge of starting a new career. Darioush and his brother-in-law pooled their resources and purchased a failing grocery store in the city of Los Angeles. Thirty years later they nowoperate 25 stores, with 6 operating under the “Top Valu Market” (KVmartco) name with a traditional supermarket format and they employ over 1,500 people.

The Wine

Darioush estate vineyards consists of ninety-five acres located in the Napa Valley, the Oak Knoll District and Mt. Veeder that are planted to Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz, Merlot, Malbec, Petit Verdot, Chardonnay and Viognier.

Click Here for the detailed review and more interesting pics

Mancherji’s – probably the only Parsi food joint in Kolkata

Of all the Indian cuisines, parsi cuisine is one of the most underrated one. Probably, this is due to the fact that the parsi population in India is slowly diminishing. However, there is a joint in Kyd street where we could find some authentic parsi dish. Its named after the owner ‘Mancherji’s”. The place is owned by a parsi gentleman and his family. But, the problem is, due to market demand, they’ve started making bengali regular dishes and makes parsi items only on request. So, we met there, made some prior appointments and started our journey into parsi cuisine. 

How to go and when to go: 

The formal address for this joint is 14, kyd street, near MLA hostel. If you start from the chowringhee towards kyd street, on your right will be the MLA hostel. Near to its gate no 2, there is an SBI ATM. Just opposite to that, lies Mancherji’s- a small shack. Its extremely easy to locate, provided you know what you’re looking for. 




Statutory warning: do not expect any of the fine dining experience here. You’ll see some plastic chairs and tables thrown around and the daily menu written on the white-board on the wall. You may start cursing me, because probably, all you can find is some bengali item’s names but behold- move a little down and you’ll find the items. You’re now allowed to rub your eyes again seeing the price. Yes, they’re that cheap, but not quality/ quantity-wise. Go ahead, gorge on them, eat your heart out- its difficult to cross 400/- per head for even a heavy-eater like me. 

DSC_7277 DSC_7276

The food:

We asked the owners for their suggestion and we were offered a typical 6 course parsi meal.

The fist item was chicken farcha. Its basically a parsi version of KFC styled batter-fried chicken. One portion consists of one big piece (what else can you expect in 50/- ???) only its more on the softer side than the crunchier version. Wholesome, very very less spicy and was really a good start. 

Chicken farcha

The next item was Egg akuri with tawa roti. This egg akuri is the parsi version of scrambled egg. Only its more full-bodied with onion, tomato, coriander leaves and some indian spices. We had it with tawa roti, but I personally felt it would go better with some pav / buns. This item can be tried during the lunch time and will be a good choice. 

Egg akuri Egg akuri 2

Kuchumber is a sharp, small diced parsi salad with cucumber, onion, tomato and green chilly and was promptly served next. Along with it we got brown rice. It was rice tossed with caramel water, bereshtah (sliced, deep brown fried onion) and garam masala (particularly cinnamon) and thus got its typical color. This brown rice is the standard accompaniment with the normal parsi dishes, as we were told. 

Kuchumber Brown rice

Next we got the main course of the day- chicken dhansak. This is a unique meat dish from the parsi kitchen. This is dal diced meat with 4 varieties of dal (arhar dal, chana dal, red musoor dal and brown musoor dal). Its typically flavored with with dhansak masala comprising of 15 masalas (kept secret) with ginger, garlic, coriander and mint leaves and green chilly. This is a heavy thick-gravy dish. Its normally cooked with mutton, but here, in mancherji’s they normally prepare it on every Saturday with chicken due to low-market-demand. Its very mild tasted, yet keeps its distinct flavor intact. Here, they give a full bowl of gravy and one good-sized meat piece. And, brown rice comes complementary with it- a complete meal. 

Dhaansaak Dhansaak (2)

The second main course that we got was Sali Murg. Its normally a chicken dry curry cooked with apricot and covered with fried potato straws. In mancherji’s however, all we got was chicken kassa covered with potato straw and lacked the taste of apricot, which normally makes it distinct. The taste is still good. 

Chicken Sali

Its dessert time finally, and we got the dish of the day- Lagan Nu Custard. This is the normal egg custard with lots of dry fruits and nuts. Tastes heavenly and was the perfect ending of a good meal. Sadly, they don’t make this dish on a regular basis and prepares them on bulk order (min 10 no). This dish is a must-have in this place and not-to-be-missed. 

Lagan Nu Custard

Final take:

This joint prepares some good food but is poorly managed. They’ve succumbed to the market demand and started preparing bengali food than sticking to their original dishes. However, if one wants some parsi food in Kolkata, this is probably the only option. They can prepare other parsi delicacies also on request and confirmation and does outdoor-catering also. They can be reached on9830254120

Cheers and bon apetite !!!

I can be reached at 9903528225 /

Please comment and share if you like …


Orange Spiced Parsi Chapat


FEBRUARY 13, 2015 BY 

Last year, during an interview with a prominent newspaper in India, one of the questions alluded to a disappearing trend of good ole Parsi food delicacies – like Parsi-style sweetened crepes or pancakes called ‘Chapat.’

My mind reeled with images of the many Chapat I’ve savored as a child…happy memories of my Mamaiji (maternal grandma) plating hot off the pan Chapat for us eager-n-hungry grandkids.

Well, Chapat ain’t going anywhere – not on my watch!

Orange Spiced Parsi Chapat: An Absolutely Adorable Crepe


So here it is – my refreshed version of the Parsi Chapat, with a few fragrant additions to the traditional method, paired with nuggets of wisdom on making Chapat crepes and pancakes, which I’ve picked up along the way.

Some points to keep in mind while making my ‘Chapat’ recipe:

• Simply explained, Parsi Chapat is slightly thicker than a crepe and much thinner than a pancake.

• Semolina flour also called durum or pasta flour or Rava adds a hearty texture, unique to the Parsi Chapat.

• Ingredients like cinnamon and orange zest are not typical of a Parsi Chapat; they’re my delicious ideas for this recipe based on experience (especially from handling the ‘Crepe Suzette’ cart in my hotel days.)

• The buttery textures of pine nuts (or even blanched almond) are a great substitute for ‘Charoli seeds’ which are not easily available in western countries.

• I’ve kept the sugar level low; instead drizzle honey or sprinkle powdered sugar over the Parsi Chapat while serving. There’s also a handy list of topping ideas in the recipe.

• The first crepe in the pan could probably get messed up; be prepared for that and move on.

Orange Spiced Parsi Chapat: Use the Crepe Method to Cook it


Now on to the recipe…

Crepe or pancake style Parsi Chapat using a touch of semolina flour or Rava added for a hearty texture, and the bold flavors of warm spices like cardamom, cinnamon and nutmeg, with a hint of vanilla, orange zest and pine nuts.
Makes 4-6 Chapat Crepes
  1. ½ cup all-purpose flour
  2. ¼ cup semolina flour or Rava (also sold as durum or pasta flour)
  3. ¼ cup sugar (more if desired)
  4. ¼ teaspoon ground cardamom
  5. ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  6. ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  7. 1/8 teaspoon (pinch) salt
  8. 1 teaspoon orange zest (use a grater or microplane zester to grate/zest the peel of orange)
  9. ¾ cup milk
  10. 1 egg
  11. 1 teaspoon vanilla essence
  12. 2 tablespoons pine nuts or blanched almond, roughly chopped
  13. Butter, to grease the pan
Topping Ideas for Parsi Chapat
  1. Orange marmalade
  2. Fruit preserve or compote of choice
  3. Honey or maple syrup
  4. A dollop of butter
  5. Powdered sugar
  6. Chocolate chips and walnuts (add these while crepe is still in the pan)
  7. Sweetened Bourbon whipped cream
  8. Ice-cream of choice
  1. In a mixing bowl, bring all the dry ingredients together – all-purpose and semolina flour, sugar, spices, salt and orange zest. (Tip: While zesting an orange, use a firm fruit and don’t grate the white part of the peel, which gives a bitter taste.)
  2. In another bowl combine the milk, vanilla essence and egg till they are well mixed.
  3. Add the milk and egg mixture to the flour slowly to avoid those invariable lumps of flour in the batter. Let the batter sit (or stand, if you prefer that term) for 15-20 minutes before making the crepes. The batter will have a thick pouring consistency.
  4. Heat a medium sized pan (the pan will govern the size of your crepe, so it shouldn’t be too large or too small.) Lightly grease the bottom of the pan with butter, making sure there is no excess butter left in the pan; that makes it difficult for the batter to spread evenly in the pan.
  5. Pour about ¼ cup of batter into the hot pan, lift it by the handle and swirl it around till the batter has spread out evenly on the pan. When the crepe lifts off at the edges, flip it and cook briefly for 15 seconds.
  6. Drizzle chopped pine nuts or blanched almond over the Chapat crepe while warm. Fold the Chapat into a classic triangular shape or roll it up.
  7. Parsi Chapat is best enjoyed freshly cooked with a topping of your choice (refer to the ideas above to get you started.)

Cookbook for a cause

  • Committee members of Zoroastrian Stree Mandal with the sixth edition of the cook book |Neeraj Murali

    Committee members of Zoroastrian Stree Mandal with the sixth edition of the cook book |Neeraj Murali

HYDERABAD: For those who have decided to get into kitchen and try their hand at cooking delicious food, without picking up recipes from YouTube and other apps, they can opt for the Zoroastrian Stree Mandal (ZSM) cookbook to learn cooking the traditional way.

Along with yummy food you can also add the credit of donating some money to charity as the proceeds of the book will go to the needy.

The first edition of the cookbook was published in the year 1965, specifically for those women who lost their husbands in the Indo-China War and has been helpful in raising money for charity.

“The sixth edition contains more than 250 recipes – regional, traditional and Parsi – and the proceeds of the book will go for charity,” informed Rashna Mistry, fundraising convener at ZSM on Sunday after it’s release.

About 2,000 copies of the book were released at the occasion by the corporate chef Vikram Simha.

ZSM, a charitable trust affiliated to the Indian Council of Social Welfare, focuses on uplifting needy Zoroastrians, and contributes to national causes and aids care giving organisations like the Home for the Aged, Spastic Society of India and so on.

For more than five decades ZSM has been providing aid for the less privileged, making sure that no person in the community is neglected. Its 13 committee members and 265 other members, with the help of Parsi community and the other contributors, distribute `35,000 to `40,000 every month to the people in need.

Elaborating further, Perviz Nalladaru, community president said, “We donate the money to any person in the Parsi community, who is genuinely in need of it. Apart from that we donate medicines, get children educated, help orphanages and NGOs like Help age India.”

“All these activities are made possible through regular fund raising functions like jumble sales, charity premiers, melas, dramas and the sale of the ZSM Cook Book,” added secretary Armin Wadia.

At the venue, a golden tree with all the editions of the ZSM cookbooks were displayed commemorating the hardwork that was put in to bring out those books.

The event was followed by cookery competition where participants made Parsi food, salads and desserts.

The dishes were judged by the chef Vikram, Anjuman president  (a sister concern of ZSM) Goolbanoo Y Chenoy and Nawsha Jalnewala.

Warming up to winter – Bachi Karkaria

DARK MATTER: Mumbai's Ratan Tata Institute makes vasanu, a traditional Parsi winter sweet, that's sold at the charity's outlets across the city.
It might sound like the name of a corny Parsi comedy, but doodh na puff, as once whipped up by the doughty matrons of the clan, is as vanishing a winter speciality as Vera Aunty’s vasanu. Or Edulji’s favourite eeda paak.

As the December sun slants its mellow rays on Mumbai, huge copper lohris and iron karhais are pulled down from the dusty mariya-lofts of Parsi baugs and colonies, faded family recipe books are flipped to otherwise-forsaken pages, and bazaars are scoured for esoteric herbs and spices. Or – ruining the adventure – a list of ingredients is simply handed to the corner shopkeeper accustomed to the community’s culinary demands. Across all Indian homes, winter specialities are awaited with the eagerness of baraats. Afridi begum’s aflatoon, Gurpreet Kaur’s gaajar halwa, Gangubai’s gul poli, Gunwantiben’s gundarpak …For the Parsis, it is the triumvirate of vasanu, doodh na puff and eeda paak. They are all rites of seasonal passage. The creation of vasanu and eeda paak calls for devotion, patience and a strong arm. But duty and ‘maro Dinsu’ demand that they must be propitiated once every winter. The list of ingredients is almost as long as the journey in that storm-tossed boat from Persia over a 1, 000 years ago. At least 90 per cent of those for vasanu are not normally found in any kitchen, and none of the women I spoke to had a clue about the origins of the likes of mokhru, salan or kanthori peepar. The assistant at Dadar’s Gangar Stores wasn’t very enlightening either. “They are all Ayurvedic jari-booti, mostly roots, ” he said. But at least I was happy to know that there’s no colour discrimination, the ‘kali moosri’ is used in equal proportion to the ‘dhori (fair) moosri’.

A food processor will take Freny only so far. The almonds, pistachios and cheronji nuts have to be peeled and chopped. For the vasanu, dried kamalkakri (lotus root) and singora (water chestnut), dill seeds and health and heatgenerating stuff such as pipri mooth na gath and gokhru, have to be soaked overnight and then ground. Soonth (dried ginger), cardamom and jaiphal-jawantri (the nutmeg flower and fruit) must be crushed to the right degree of coarseness. The ingredients have to be individually prepared and then fried separately in oodles of asli ghee. Again one by one, they must be stirred into the just-right sugar syrup.

Commercial mawa is just not the same as boiling it down to a solid at home.

Eeda paak demands 25 egg yolks to a cup each of almonds, pistachios, cheronji and pine nuts. It also has several of the vasanu’s jari-booti, and consumes the same amount of ghee, sugar and energy in the vigorous beating of the yolks and the gentle stirring of the mixture over a slow fire. Cholesterol and diabetes, do your worst.

I hate both vasanu and eeda paak. But I love them because they stoke the mythology. One bite into their yielding hardness takes me back to our kaumi rural roots. It instantly summons the image of the doughty materfamilias, her ample behind spilling out of her low stool, measuring out fistfuls of ingredients, sternly supervising her retinue of lissome Warli or dubra women helpers as they soak, peel, chop, pound and fry – and choicely abusing them should they slip an iota below perfection.

‘Mai-ji’ would then tighten her head scarf to deliver the coup de grace: taking over the spatula for the last few minutes of stirring before tipping the thick slurry into German silver khumchas to cool and set. Throughout the winter, the men-folk in their sadra-legha would demolish chunks of vasanu and eeda paak with their morning mint tea, feeling the warmth and virility surge through them with each chomp. The children would be handed more modest pieces with their fresh squeezed milk.

Doodh na puff carries an entirely different aura of romance. Creamy sweetened milk is reduced to half, poured into smaller containers, covered with muslin and left to hang overnight from the boughs of trees. It is taken down early morning, still dewladen, and sharply whisked. As the froth rises, it is spooned into small chai glasses.

Doodh na puff are as much of a must-have as the fresh toddy and river boi-fish when Mumbai’s Parsis make the pilgrimage to the holiest fire in Udwada in winter. The delicate speciality remains a seasonal staple in the small original settlements all of which have a respectable winter. But even hotand-hotter Mumbai is no deterrent for the gastronomically determined bawa. ‘We may not have a winter, but we have a fridge, no?’

So Dinaz Wadia simply pops the full-fat Parsi Dairy milk into her refrigerator, pulls it out next morning, plugs in the electric beater, scoops out the foam – and makes hubby Hoshi a khushi man. Toxy Cowasjee from Karachi adds that “tetrapack milk simply won’t do”.

These winter specialities are an amalgam of the community’s Persian origins and the roots it put down in Gujarat. Vasanu and eeda paak answered the needs of cold weather and physically strenuous work. Today both lifestyle and climate have changed, but all three bravely continue to thumb their nose at global warming, the doctor’s orders and the bank-breaking ‘badam-pista no bhaav’.

5 Reasons Why Food-Lovers Must Visit Udvada

Proud Parsi that I am, I like visiting Udvada for quite another reason – the food! This has to be the only town where you can feast like a king on all kinds of Parsi food without having to wait for that elusive Parsi wedding invite.

Early breakfast at Ahura’s
While several trains departing from Mumbai can take you to Udvada, I recommend a road trip as an early breakfast at Ahura is a worthy highway pit stop. Located just after Charoti on the NH8, Ahura is the best way to start your Parsi food extravaganza.

While they also serve the traditional South Indian fare, what you really want to order is their salli per eedu. Parsis’ the world over have a fascination with breaking an egg over just about anything and the salli per eedu made with fine potato sticks, egg and spiced tomato is an ideal way to start the day. In true ‘bawa’ style, accompany the eggs with a hot cup of Parsi style ‘fudina ni choi’.

A second breakfast in Udvada
Udvada is still about two hours away from Ahura so if you don’t binge, you will have space for the traditional Udvada Parsi breakfast of aleti paleti, khurchan and kheema pav. While kheema pav is self-explanatory and a popular dish in many Irani cafes (though it always tastes better in Udvada!), you may not have tried the offal fiesta that is aleti paleti (a toss-up of chicken organs) or khurchan (a mix of goat organs). Both these dishes cooked-up with the unique Parsi-style garam masala and served with freshly baked bread are a must-try for those who love a meaty start to their day.

Fish and some more meat for lunch
There aren’t many places to stay in Udvada and if you’re smart you will have booked into either Globe, Ashishvangh, J.J. Sanitorium or Sodawaterwala. All of these serve-up delicious Parsi food so there is no need for you to go hunting for food. However, if you’re staying elsewhere, make sure you head to one of these places for a mid-day meal worth lusting after.

While the menus change daily, if luck is in your favour you will get to try all three delicacies – the fried fish, some kind of kebab and pulao dar. Generally, the fried fish on offer will be the mullet, commonly called ‘Boi’ which comes marinated in turmeric and red chilli powder. Follow this up with a side of either chicken Russian pattice, kheema kebabs or bheja na cutlets and a tall chilled glass of sunta raspberry or ice cream soda while you soak up some Vitamin D.

Click Here for more, by Perzen Patel – BawiBride …………

Parsi winter warmer – Vasanu

Meet the makers of vasanu, a Parsi speciality that takes 30 ingredients and calves of steel, and promises to energise the immune system.The first of a series on little-known community sweets
Not even Google, in its infinite wisdom, can spell out what precisely goes into vasanu, an exotic Parsi fudge. We hear its ingredients -chaar jaatna magaz, baval nu goonder, cummar kakri, jabar jas and karlu batrisu -tease the tongue just as does its potent blend of flavours. Prepared exclusively when the mercury drops, the sweet-spicy “Parsi equivalent of Chyavanprash,“ vasanu is a herbal recipe that fortifies the immune system and energises it, Parsis will tell you. Now of course, most families have long since traded in the tedium of preparing it for the luxury of ordering in.
Click Here for the full story

Know your batasas

287, Dukargully, Dhobi Talao (presently Dr. C. H. Street).

When customers at the Paris Bakery ask about the price of a packet of batasa biscuits, Paris’ proprietor Danesh Nejadkay offers them a sample instead. ‘Once you taste, you are trapped,’ Nejadkay insists. Indeed Paris’ Maska Batasas are the tastiest dollops of butter (with a hint of jeera cumin) in town.

Nejadkay shares some batasa wisdom with us- Bite into a batasa don’t break it, offer or accept it with your right hand, soak it in a cup of tea for a minute or two, let it ‘blow up’ and then have it with a spoon.


Courtesy : Parsi Zoroastrian Anjuman of Secunderabad and Hyderabad

Rustom’s Parsi Bhonu


Home-style Parsi food, like your friend Dhun’s mummy used to make it.

There’s a sudden flood of appreciation for Parsi food in Delhi, and I’m not at all surprised. With its abundance of meaty fare, decadent curries, and fried potatoes, there’s no easier cuisine for the meat-loving North to get stuck into. But this isn’t the food of Bombay’s Irani cafés. Nope, Rustom’s Parsi Bhonu is going where no Parsi restaurant has gone before: straight into the home recipes of the Parsi community.

Run by former food writer Kainaz Contractor, and partner Rahul Dua (of Café Lota fame), this tiny twenty-seat restaurant in Adhchini is primarily aimed at home deliveries, and if our first sampling of their menu was any indication, they’ll be doing roaring trade once the full menu’s in effect.

Contractor’s dipped into her own family’s repertoire to put together the menu, supplemented by other Best Of’s from friends and family, and there’s more than just dhansak on the menu, thank heavens. Personally, that meat-and-lentil stew’s always been my least favourite, paling in comparison to things like prawn patio, with its tangy tomato gravy (Rustom’s excellent version is Rs 495, and comes with yellow dal and rice), or the rich jardaloo marghiu ma salli, with ghee-fried apricots and topping of crisp, fried potato straws (Rs 395).

The kheema pattice (Rs 298) come in a pair, are ginormous, and divine. With mutton mince encased in potato, topped with egg and fried, there’s not much that can go wrong here, but Rustom’s version is so, so right that I’d be tempted to just order multiple rounds and make them my meal. They’re a little reminiscent of the ‘chops’ served in Bengali homes, but just…better. Classicists never fear, there is dhansak, and you can choose between the trad mutton (Rs 495) or even give a veggie version a spin, with spiced aubergine kababs (Rs 395). Definitely order the malai na paratha (Rs 80) to mop it all up; they’re unbelievably pliant and, when wrapped around one of those keema pattice, make one of the best rolls I’ve ever had.

Work’s still underway on the restaurant, so the kitchen is currently operating only for deliveries. We’re told that a longer menu will emerge once the place opens, but until then, their current list encompasses all that is good about Parsi home-cooking, and is on the menu for dinner tonight.

Taste of India set to spread roots and flavor in China

You could call it a gut feeling. It was certainly a taste for adventure. Mehernosh Pastakia was sitting down at a well-adorned table at his restaurant in the China Overseas Plaza in Jianguomen Wai Avenue, one of three in Beijing, recalling his decision to come to China in 1991.

A business venture in India had failed to get off the ground, but the then-24-year-old from Mumbai was undeterred and determined to prove he had the ability, and a menu, for success.

“I was disappointed at that time, so I said I will work abroad, and then go back and start again,” Pastakia said.



Mehernosh Pastakia (middle), owner of the Taj Pavilion, poses with his wife Zheng Xiaowen and son Kershasp. Pastakia opened his first Taj in 1998 which is now a firm favorite for diners among the approximately 20 Indian restaurants in Beijing. Provided to China Daily

All went according to plan, except for the return.

His Taj Pavilion, which regularly hosts visiting Indian politicians and business people while providing a taste of India for anyone residing in Beijing, has seen its customer numbers increase annually.

Pastakia has seen the proportion of Chinese customers grow from a modest 10 percent of the total initially to about 50 percent now.

His first Taj opened in 1998, and is a firm favorite for diners among the approximately 20 Indian restaurants in Beijing.

He is quick to point out that his Chinese wife played a pivotal role in his success.

“My wife is my backbone; she is the one who takes care of all the back office stuff while I take care of business at the front of the house,” he said.

Pastakia met his wife Zheng Xiaowen soon after he arrived in Beijing and started to work as the manager of an Indian restaurant. She was then preparing for an English test in Beijing and working at the restaurant as a part-time accountant.

Zheng readily admits her motives were not romantic when she struck up conversation with the new arrival.

Cultural advantage

“At that time, there were only a few foreigners in Beijing, and there weren’t many Chinese who could speak English. I thought it was a good opportunity to practice spoken English for my exams, so we talked a lot,” Zheng said.

Pastakia and Zheng became close friends and then realized the spice of romance was in the air. Six years after meeting, they got married.

A year later, they opened the first Taj Pavilion in Beijing’s central business district.

The couple spend most of their time operating the restaurants and plan to open more “if there is a good opportunity”, Pastakia said.

Pastakia speaks Mandarin and understands the business and cultural advantage that it offers.

“If a Chinese guest comes in and you talk Chinese to them, they feel more at home, more relaxed,” he said.

But back in the 1990s, cultural differences and Pastakia’s few Mandarin phrases meant that Zheng’s relatives did not immediately take to him.

In India, a guest eats the full amount on the plate to show respect to the host. In China, one should leave a small amount on the plate to show that you have eaten as much as you can.

“When I found I liked one of the dishes, I just kept eating, because I wanted them to be happy,” Pastakia said. The more he ate the bigger trouble he was in.

However, both Pastakia and Zheng believed that culture, once the eating difficulty was overcome, actually brought them closer together.

“China and India both have cultures that value family ties,” Pastakia said.

Zheng, a Buddhist, also has a deep knowledge and appreciation of India’s culture.

The couple have a 14-year-old son, Kershasp, who was born and brought up in China, and Pastakia believes that his son will benefit immensely from the combination of the two cultures.

“He has the best of two countries in the world to draw on when he grows up,” he said.

Real thing

It is rare for the family to cook at home, but if they do, Chinese cuisine, prepared by Zheng, appears most of the time.

Like most foreigners, Pastakia’s favorite Chinese dish is kung-pao chicken, while his wife, a vegetarian, likes the lentil-based Indian dish, maaki dal.

Taj Pavilion customers tend to opt for the butter chicken, priced at 78 yuan ($12.50). This dish, coincidentally, is also one of the most popular Indian dishes globally.

Authenticity will never be sacrificed for more profit, Pastakia said, and the size of the restaurants allows the delicate flavors of Indian food to come through.

“It is better to get the real thing rather than a version, otherwise you will never know what is the real thing,” he said.

Many shops in Beijing are now selling the ingredients, but when he started up they had to be imported.

During the interview, Tang Lu, a Chinese journalist who is going to work in India was having a farewell lunch with her colleagues.

“Have the dinner today and you will know exactly the best kind of Indian food I’m going to have there,” she told them.

Despite the booming business, Pastakia is quite cautious about expansion plans.

“If you see the history of our restaurants, we wait at least five years before opening a new restaurant,” he said. “The difficult part is not opening it but running it. It takes time for a restaurant to settle down.”

With Indian cuisine growing ever more popular, potential customers may ask him to reconsider the five-year plan.