Discover ancient Parsi cuisine before it’s too late

In the 1950s, there were about 550 traditional Parsi cafes in South Mumbai. Today, there are less than 30. But whilst Britannia and Co Restaurant and Yazdani bakery and cafe may be some of the few still remaining, Parsi cuisine, a unique west coast Indian cuisine that captures flavors from ancient Persia with adopted Indian spices, is garnering international attention.

“In recent years, since the Parsi diaspora spread all over the world, a new-found appreciation of Parsi cuisine in the West has made its way onto the international map” explains Niloufer Mavalvala, author and founder of Niloufer’s Kitchen. “We also have some well-respected Parsi-cuisine chefs such as Cyrus Todiwala in London, UK and Jehangir Mehta of NYC.”

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Ideal Chef for Parsi Delights

The Parsis are a small community with a rich culinary heritage that a lot of people don’t have a clue about. Recently, Bangalore was treated to an array of authentic Parsi dishes whipped up by none other than the legendary Parvez Patel, at Cubbon Pavilion at ITC Gardenia. Chef Patel has been serving Parsi food in many cities, over the years, as part of ITC’s food festivals and promotions.

Parsi cuisine is a tantalising mix of Persian food influenced by Gujarati style of cooking and is popular in western India. The curries are spice laden and  flavoured  with nuts and apricots. The Parsis, a fun-loving and hard working people,  have always loved their food  and have been  passionate about it.

Meeting the quiet, soft spoken and unassuming  Parvez Patel is a delightful experience. He is a treasure of culinary secrets and is known for keeping alive Parsi recipes, handed from one generation to the next, at his restaurant, Ideal Corner in Mumbai. He makes you realise that there is more to Parsi food that mutton dhansak! Now, that’s a happy thought.

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Parsi Dharamshala Delhi

Parsi anjuman (Parsi Dharamshala, Bahadurshah Zafar Marg, Near Delhi Gate Daryaganj crossing, New Delhi)

A no frills Parsi eatery run by Parsis, located in the premises of a Parsi Dharamshala & Fire Temple in delhi, serves authentic & YUMM Parsi food.

The waiting staff seemed to b on their toes. They did not talk much or smile much (inspite of my generous smiles) but were very very efficient and helpful.

There is a fire temple in the campus where non parsis r not allowed to enter.

There is also a banquet hall in the same premises that is given out on rent for family functions.

Food needs to b ordered a day in advance. Can b done in phone. There is no website of this place that we cud find. So checked Zomato for contact info. The phone number mentioned in zomato was just ringing.  Kept trying for 2 days and there was no change in fortune.

We had to mention the time of arrival and we entered the hall sharp at the promised time. We were allocated a seat based on the number of people we had in the group.

Food arrived soon after.

Everything was hot and fresh

It was just not the typical restaurant food. It had no feel of industrial assembly line kind of food but was like home cooked food. We all ate a lot but it did not feel so – I guess coz the dish had no extra oil, no short cuts etc.

Loved eating each and every dish and plan to go back again.

Dhansak is served only on Sundays.

Detailed Description – In case u have the Time to NJOY reading – Click Here

Chicken Farcha (Parsi recipe of fried chicken)

A typical Parsi dish of fried chicken, the similarity to KFC is unbelievable( was Sanders a Parsi;)

Biryani Takes a 360 Degree Turn

I’ve eaten a lot of Biryani. And I can safely say that no two Biryanis that you’ll eat from different homes or different restaurants will be the same. Each Biryani comes with its own set of ingredients and spices, that have been mastered over a course of time, after careful trial and error in the kitchen. In fact, my granny does a Parsi Biryani too, even though so many people say there’s nothing like a Parsi Biryani, my granny and I will beg to differ. I really like the India Map below which depicts the Biryani trail, and is the perfect example of how this dish got hybridized everywhere it traveled.

And then there came Biryani360- unlike any other Biryani I’d eaten before. I was introduced to Biryani360 and the concept by the PetPujaris group, as a part of their month-end ‘Kadka’. (More about the group on their Facebook page here.) We were all huddled up at Biryani360’s CEO, owner and passionate Biryani lover Shayan Italia’s home on one sunny Sunday afternoon to hear about his labour of love. I wasn’t aware of Biryani360 at that time, and I refrained from reading up any online reviews, so I went there with a blank slate and an hungry stomach.

Click Here to read on, the full review by Branded Bawi aka Zenia Irani

Welcome to Niloufer’s Kitchen

Born and raised in Karachi, I started to bake when I was 8 years old. I taught my first solo class at 17, which I thoroughly enjoyed. It soon made me realise it is a wonderful way to make friends; food shared is a special kind of experience. We moved to Dubai soon after I was married and I managed to organise cooking demonstrations. This made my 6 years there enjoyable and memorable. Moving to Canada, it made my resolve stronger to start the same, my happy way of making new friends, who all enjoy cooking as much as I do. I enjoy doing fundraisers through my demonstrations, continuing to support a couple of charities through the years.

Fortunately, my daughters enjoy cooking and eating, my husband is my source of truth and inspiration. My mum, who is a baker par excellence, does not hold back on her critical analysis, which has pushed me to excel. My brother, who started me off on this journey with positive encouragement, continues to be my ardent supporter. My Villie fui, who has taught me so much, having shared her own wealth of experienced knowledge that I would not be able to find anywhere else in this world. But nothing would have been possible without my dad’s sincere belief in me. The bribing, cajoling and unconditional love started me off on this journey for which there is nothing but loving gratitude. I miss him every day but also know that he is smiling down while enjoying this journey with me! For my childhood friends who have always believed in me, thank you.

Decades of passion and teaching cooking have now prompted me to write e- cookbooks. This technological approach comes from keeping young adults in mind. Many live in small spaces. These e-books are the solution. Preview it and buy with a simple click. The result is a cookbook library stored within your Kindle reader!

The books may be menu or cuisine based. I have now managed to publish 8 e-cookbooks. Each one is available on Amazon. I also have a facebook page under the same name of Niloufer’s Kitchen which is interlinked to this blog for easy reference.

Being a teacher at heart, detailed explanation and generally writing how I would verbally teach is the format I have chosen. Trivia and Tips make it comfortable for the learner and the expert. It is an art form of narrating my life story perhaps. My series is called Niloufer’s Kitchen.
I hope you get a chance to browse through my books and enjoy cooking it too.

Click Here to go to Niloufer’s kitchen

Nankhatai – The Dying Indian ‘Biskoot’

The soft crumbly nankhatai brings back many a fond memory. The word ‘Nankhatai’ comes from the Persian word ‘Nan’meaning bread and ‘Khatai’ probably comes from ‘Catai’ or ‘Cathay’, the older name for China. Thus, translating as ‘Bread of Cathay’. Another version from Northeast Iran or Afghanistan is a type of biscuit, also referred to as Kulcha-e-Khataye.


Origin of nankhatai

The history of the nankhatai in India is quite interesting. Towards the end of the 16th century, a couple of Dutch dudes set up a bakery in Surat to cater to the needs of the local Dutch populace. When the Dutch were leaving India, the owners handed over the bakery to a very enterprising employee, a Parsi gentleman Faramji Pestonji Dotivala. Since the bread was made with palm toddy for fermentation, it didn’t find favour with the local Indians. In order to save his bakery, Mr. Dotivala started selling the old bread and puff, which became dried, at a really cheap price. This dried version became so popular that he started drying the bread before selling it. Later, the dried version came to be known as the ‘Irani Biscuit’.

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Chowder Singh


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