Category Archives: Food

How Parsis shaped India’s taste for soft drinks

A bottle of Pallonji’s raspberry soda comes with this helpful disclaimer: “Contains no fruit.” Electric red in colour, and syrupy sweet to the taste, the raspberry soda is a beloved cultural icon of India’s fast-disappearing Parsi community – as well as the endangered Irani cafes in the western city of Mumbai.

It is pure, fizzy nostalgia.

But peer more closely into one of Pallonji’s ancient glass bottles and you can discern a story of much greater significance: how Parsis helped shape India’s taste for soft drinks.

Over the past two centuries, Parsis were instrumental in popularising and producing carbonated beverages in India, laying the foundations for what is today a $8bn (£6.9bn) industry.

Soda had become a popular beverage in London by the early 1800s. Companies such as Schweppes sold plain carbonated water, advertising it as a health elixir. Other firms experimented with flavoured variants such as lemon, orange, and raspberry.

Inevitably, soda found its way from the heart of the empire to India, where it was a luxury item for Britons in the subcontinent. In 1837, Henry Rogers, a chemist in Mumbai, set up what was likely western India’s first “aerated water” factory.

Rogers’ product was not simply a refreshing pick-me-up. Before Mumbai completed its modern waterworks in the late 19th Century, it relied on well water, which was filthy and potentially deadly.

Poster of a Parsi aerated water manufacturing companyImage copyrightH D DARUKHANAWALA, PARSIS AND SPORTS
Image captionThe Parsi community were instrumental in manufacturing aerated drinks in India

In the best of times, residents complained of drinking muddy liquid that was “very foul both to sight and smell, of a yellowish brown colour”. In the worst of times, hundreds died from cholera outbreaks.

Drinking carbonated water could be a life-saving habit. After all, carbonic acid in soda killed bacteria and viruses.

This was even more the case after the invention of carbonated tonic water in 1858, which contained quinine to ward off malaria.

Parsis sensed a commercial opportunity in the new fizzy drinks consumed by their colonial masters. Many were already involved in businesses that catered to Britons, as commissaries to the army or owners of hotels and “Europe shops” in cities.

They added soda to their inventories. According to community lore, the first Parsi to settle in Ahmednagar – a dusty army outpost in the Deccan – arrived in town with a soda-making apparatus strapped to a mule, with which he slaked the thirst of British soldiers.

By the mid-1800s, Parsis began imbibing the strange drink themselves.

Here, they served as trendsetters for other Indians, who had looked at soda with suspicion.

The Marolia family sold their soda in special round-bottom bottles


Click Here for the full story with some great pics

By Dinyar Patel

A 160-Year-Old Parsi Sweet Shop Is The Longest Surviving Business Of India


It is always an interesting feeling to come across a part of Indian history that has managed to sustain itself through changing regimes, colonisation, independence, and the many, many things that this country has gone through.

So when I came across this Parsi sweet shop, it was amazing to learn of how it had managed to keep itself running for around 200 years now.

In a time, when businesses and startups are starting and closing up in just a couple of years, it is certainly a testament of business ethics and working conditions that has managed to still keep it running till date.

So what is this Parsi shop that has managed to be one of the longest surviving business of India?

What Is The Dotivala Bakery?

The Dutch came to India some time around the 1700s. Their reign wasn’t really that long either, not when in comparison to the British or Portuguese, but they did leave behind a massive impact on the Indian cultural sheet and cuisine. While they were in India they took up a warehouse on Dutch Road in Surat and started a bakery there.

They employed 5 Parsi bakers to do the job, and when they left, they gave over the bakery to one Mr. Faramji Pestonji Dotivala. The now namesake of the much beloved bakery across the city. The Indian Dotivala Bakery was established in 1861, almost 160 years ago.

The Parsi food culture is one big mashup of different traditions and cultures. Their food has hints of Gujarati, Maharashtrian, British and Dutch food.

In fact, their seemingly strange surnames like Cakewala, Confectioner and Paowala and more also originated due to how entwined the community is with the snacks and dessert food group.

The Dotivala Bakery in Surat has taken up the Dutch cuisine and integrated it with their own tradition, creating something truly unique. In its beginning, the Dutch bakery was more geared towards home-sich Dutch people.

But after the Dutch regime came to an end, along with the breads, buscuits and cakes, the bakery also started to create new items for the now Indian customers.

This eventually lead to them creating the rusk-dry Irani khari biscuit, nankhatai biscuit and more such iconic items that are now eaten by people all across the country.

Parsi culinary expert and cookbook author, Niloufer Mavalvala, even recounted how Dotivala initially invented the ‘batasas‘ that are a type of small sized dried bread buns. In her book, ‘The Art of Parsi Cooking’ she revealed that, “Once the Brits too lessened in numbers, the popularity of the bakery diminished, and the wasted loaves were soon distributed to the local poor. Having the advantage of being fermented with an ingredient called toddy (palm wine), there was little chance of the bread ever catching fungus, prolonging the life of this staple yet making it harder in texture and more difficult to eat.” 

She then revealed how the fact that doctors suggested it to recovering patients as a good food becuase it was easy to digest while not being either too heavy, oily or spicy.

This eventually lead an increase in their demand, resulting in Dotivala intentionally making such bread buns, using just three simple ingredient, toddy, flour and water.

The shop, even after all these decades, is still running with a few other branches also in existence around the city under the leadership of Cyrus Dotivala, Pestonji’s 6th generation descendant.

Imagine a shop has managed to survive almost 2 centuries and 6 generation changes, while still seemingly giving out good food.

The Parsi Omelette

How the omelette won my heart: Kunal Vijayakar on his love for the Parsi pora

The pora is an omelette so packed with ingredients that you can hardly taste the egg — much like the original omelette itself.


I was never a big fan of omelettes. It’s either something about the texture or the way egg undercooks between the folded layers, or the floppiness of an overcooked and flattened omelette that is redolent of raw onion that sort of turned me away from omelettes for most of my life.

I’d watch my grandmother painstakingly separate yolk from egg and then wrist-wrenchingly beat the white till peaky, add onions, chillies, tomato, salt, and gently fold in the yolks, ensuring the eggs were aerated enough to make rather fluffy omelettes. I’d watch, but never eat.

Even all those years at college, hanging around in a canteen where vada pav, misal pav and omelette pav were the three staples, I never succumbed. It didn’t help that a sweaty man haphazardly broke the eggs, mixed them quickly in a mug, with raw onion, green chillies and salt, then poured the mix onto an oily pan to make small pancakes, which were hurriedly taken off the fire before the eggs had gained even a blush of bronze. I never had one in all my years there.

Even at breakfasts at Trattoria (at the erstwhile Taj President hotel), I’d watch my friends demolish huge omelettes, pale yellow, pillow-like and podgy, with only gently wrinkled skin, bursting with melted cheese, ham and mushrooms, and adamantly stick to my runny sunny-side-ups. It was only when I first tasted the Parsi pora that I actually took to the omelette. For me, the egg in the Parsi pora is just the binder. This omelette is crammed with Indian flavours and masala. The best pora contains fried onion. Deep-fried. The eggs are mixed with this browned, crisped onion, a fistful of coriander, garlic, ginger, red chilli powder, haldi, jeera powder and dhansak masala, then beaten well to form a dark-brown liquid.

You pour portions of this mixture into oil to deep-fry these pancakes. The way my friend Zenobia Irani cooks them is to keep them frying till they turn crispy brown, taking them off the fire only just before they start to burn. This pora comes out crisp, frilly, dark brown and so savoury that you could actually be eating a cutlet.

If you don’t have a friend called Zenobia, you can try the omelettes they sell at outlets of the RTI or Ratan Tata Institute. They come somewhat close to the real thing, though you will need to re-heat these properly before eating (ideally with soft, fresh, Wibs sandwich bread).

The pora is an omelette so packed with ingredients that you can hardly taste the egg — much like the original omelette itself. When I looked it up, I discovered that the earliest recorded omelettes came from Persia. They were called kuku sabzi and are still hugely popular in Iran and other Middle-Eastern countries.

The kuku sabzi is a flat, green preparation, much like the Parsi pora, except that it’s stuffed with parsley, coriander, herbs, dill, spinach and scallions. In this case, the omelette is either baked or steamed over a low flame. Topped with sour Irani barberries and walnuts, it is a meal in itself.

Like most foods in life, once the French got their hands on it, the omelette began to be perfected and documented. So if you pick up a thick Larousse Gastronomique, the French almanac of cooking, you may get a perfect recipe. Eight eggs mixed with a little water and cream or milk, seasoned with salt and pepper, beaten and then poured into a pan. The eggs are then stirred and mixed with a fork till they start setting; then folded and left to form an omelette. That is the plain omelette.

I’d suggest you read the book when you have lots of time, because the Larousse has over 35 omelette recipes, including omelettes stuffed with truffles, asparagus, morel mushrooms, chicken liver, cauliflower, bacon, potatoes, horseradish, foie gras, or even fruit compote, nuts and pastry.

Be that as it may, the best omelettes I have eaten after the Parsi pora are the Asian omelettes. Any Singapore food court hawker will serve you an oyster omelette, also called orh luak, with a side of spicy chilli sauce and a wedge of lime. It is to die for. Likewise the egg foo young, which is a Cantonese dish you can find easily in Old Kolkata. It can be made with eggs and pak choy or stuffed with barbecue pork (char siu) or ham. Often, Chinese homes just use any leftover meat, chicken or shrimp to rustle up a quick omelette.

That’s not all. It seems like everyone has their own version. The Spanish omelette is celebrated. It’s baked in a pan with eggs and potatoes. The Italians make frittata — eggs, meat, cheese and vegetables. And we in India of course make the masala omelette. I think it was the masala that finally converted me from a non-omelette-eater to an omelette fiend. Go to any Irani eatery in Mumbai, and you’ll know what I mean.

Kunal Vijayakar

Rustom’s Parsi Bhonu

Want to try some authentic and tasty Parsi food in Delhi ? Then come down to Rustom’s that serves awesome Parsi Food along with a scrumptious Parsi Thali in-house. Do try the Baingan Patio, Patrani Paneer, Sali Boti, Mutton Dhansak, Akuri (Parsi Style Eggs), Patrani Macchi and end it with the legendary Caramel Custard for Dessert. Enjoy all of these with family and friends when you come here also Do let us know the reactions/feedback. Keep watching the channel for more such food recommendations. Stay tuned !
#rustom’s #parsifood #delhi

Tales from the Parsi Kitchen of Kermin

Kermin Kakalia has always been passionate about cooking and culinary exploits. This daughter of Bandra is known to some of us from her homemade Parsi delicacies available at her small temporary stall along Chimbai road on weekends. After fate took a drastic turn and Kermin’s husband lost his battle to cancer, she had to find a way to stand on her own feet as well as to recover from the tragedy. That is when she decided to convert the words of her mother Goolestan Mody, “take risks and don’t forgo the chances life give you” into action. Gathering strength from her earlier experiences in the hospitality industry and unending passion for cooking, Kermin decided to start a Parsi food delivery centre from home. In order to reach to more food enthusiasts and to spread the word, she also keeps a temporary kiosk in Bandra on weekends.

Kermin Kakalia puts up her kiosk at Chimbai road on evenings from Friday to Sunday

From the encouragement and support she received from friends and the local community, Kermin is now providing a larger variety of Parsi dishes from her kitchen. The desire to spread Parsi culture and food is a strong driving force for this young lady who is a single mother of Eric (11) and Riya (7). Kermin is cooking dishes like dhansak, salli murgi, farcha, cutlets and prawn patio – most are authentic with recipes handed down from her grandmothers and some with her own added twist to the traditional recipes. There are both vegetarian and non-vegetarian dishes available. The author’s favorites are dhansak and salli murgi while the desserts are also interesting and different from the traditional desserts we make at homes. The cutlets start from ₹45 and the chicken farchas are sold at ₹60. Other dishes like dhansak start at ₹250 and desserts are also available from ₹150 to 200. Kermin undertakes party orders as well, subject to prior bookings.
Kermin highlights the support and love from the local community of Bandra and welcomes everyone to try her dishes. Her dream is to have a permanent kiosk in the locality and to open up her restaurant some day in the future. Story of Kermin is a true highlight of how communities come together and support budding entrepreneurs and members in distressed times. Such experiences build our communities and bring us a step closer to being one large family.
Orders can be placed via phone to Kermin Kakalia on 9892435228 or 9820831118. She also puts up her kiosk near Dr NR Hingorani’s clinic at Chimbai road in Bandra on evenings from Friday to Sunday subject to availability.

Reviving the Parsi platter

Hyderabad-based Danish Bhagat is among the 40 top contestants in the sixth season of MasterChef India.

 Danishi with the three celebrity judges — Ranveer Brar, Vineet Bhatia and Vikas Khanna during the audition round.

Danishi Bhagat, a 22-year-old Hyderabadi is one of the top 40 contestants of MasterChef India, Season 6. The youngster, who was among the top 60 in 2016, is fighting for the title the second time.

“I want to showcase the Parsi culture and cuisine to the world,” says Danishi, adding she’d like to one day work with Vineet Bhatia, one of the top international chefs.


Talking about her stint on the show, the youngster says, “I had to stay in Mumbai for three weeks and train in many things. There, I made a Parsi dish called dhansak kebab, for three world-class chefs using my grandmother’s recipe. And Vineet Bhatia, whom I really look up to, was one of the chefs I served it to. That was a dream-come-true.”

The youngster also talks about how the chefs appreciated her hopes to preserve the Parsi culture. “They were very encouraging, saying that with a little more practice, I’ll go even further. And they kept giving me tips to maintain my confidence, asking me not to think about the camera in front of me when cooking,” adds Danishi.

Acquiring a taste for cooking
The 22-year-old tells us that she started cooking at the age of nine. “One day, when no one was home, my grandfather asked me to get him a snack-box from the kitchen as he was hungry. But I decided to climb up on a stool make an omelette for him instead. He loved the omelette. I’ve been fascinated about cooking since, and my mum and grandmother have only encouraged me,” says Danishi, who started baking at the age of twelve and began taking sale orders when she was only thirteen.

Danishi, who has a blog page called The Cupcake Makeover in which she talks about her passion for cooking and her love for Parsi cuisine, calls her grandmother her inspiration and the one who taught her to cook Parsi food. But the world seems like Danish’s playground, for the Mass Communication and Journalism graduate from St Francis College who dreams to open a Parsi restaurant serving authentic Parsi food, says she’s also fascinated about filmmaking. “I’d like to learn filmmaking too. I’d like to have my own cooking channel and shoot for it and promote it myself,” adds Danishi, revealing she’s even tied up with a private company for her food channel.

Serving up her dreams
The ambitious cook, who also hopes to head to Hollywood if she got an opportunity to study filmmaking, says acting is another passion of hers and that she’d like to act too when she starts her own channel. But Danishi’s fondness for all things film may also go back to her father Shyam Bhagat, who’s been in Tollywood for more than thirty years, as a part of Sravanthi Movies. Shyam, we’re told, is in production, supplying cameras and lights. And even as Danishi’s parents aren’t too keen she joins the field, Danishi hopes to work on her own terms.

Danishi has been shot for three episodes in the upcoming season of MasterChef India, and two has already been broadcast. But the young woman is already geared up for the seventh season of the reality show. “I am hoping to enhance my skill even more as I go further,” she says simply.


My Grandma’s Rabri Mix

Rabri winter magic.
Have it every morning during winter months it is very good for health and vigour.  Strengthens your bones and back and gives you warm energy through the day.
Powder the following
100 gms. Charoli  powdered
100 gms. Cashew nuts powdered
150  gms.  Almonds powdered
150 gms. Char Magaz
400 gms. Pure cow ghee
500 gms.  Gehu nu doodh
100 gms.  Kamarkadi powdered
500 gms. Singoda Powder
150 gms. Safed Musli
25   gms.  White pepper
20   gms. Pipri Mul na gath
50  gms. Gokhru
25  gms.  Soonth (Ginger powder)
700 gms. Powdered sugar (Optional)
5     gms. Cinnamon powder
10    gms.Cardamom  nutmeg powder
1. In thick bottomed pan heat 100 gms. ghee fry all the powdered dry fruits, and take it out.
2. In the same pan add remaining 300 gms. Ghee and  add Gehu nu doodh and Singoda powder, and stirring all the time roast it to nice pink  colour.
3. Add all the other ingredients one by one and stir well and add all the fried dried fruit.
4. Put of the stove and add Cardamom Nutmeg powder.
5. Once cool store it in as glass jar.
6. While making rabri, add 1 tablespoon to a glass of milk mix well removing all lumps, and bring it to a rolling boil and serve.
Thrity Tantra

Wah Kya Taste Hai

@Parsis are predominantly in Mumbai and the west coast of India, #DelhiGate is home to a #Parsidharmsala which has the @Parsi #firetemple in its precincts and displays the culture and flavor of the @Parsicommunity. The misunderstanding that #Parsifood is generally #nonvegetarian is dispelled when @Charlesthomson helps himself to sumptuous vegetarian #Parsithali and an unusual #Parsichai very similar to #Iranichai . @Parsifood explored by @CharlesThomson are #Dhansakdal, #Patramapaneer #paneervandaloo, #vegnanuachar, #SarkanuKachumbar , #Ravaiya, #Parsiroti, etc..

Team: – @Anchor @CharlesThomson

Producer: – Shrabani Dasgupta

Research: – @CharlesThomson Shrabani Dasgupta

Camera: – Haridhan Bezbaruah, Satyanjay Sahoo

Editor: – Ankit Juyal Graphics: – Pratiksh Pulatsya

Montage: – Tathagat

Assistance in Production: – Om Prakash & Umesh Barakoti

Executive Producer: – Pradeep Agnihotri

Acknowledgement: – Rustam Restaurant

Overall In charge: – P K Subhash Delhi Doordarshan.

7 Parsi & Irani Cafes in Mumbai

If you love Iranian/Parsi food, then you gotta watch this video, right now! Our team has curated the best 7 places in Mumbai where you can try out authentic Iranian and Parsi food, and at the same time, experience their culture and history! Mumbai is home to many legendary outlets that have been serving Iranian cuisine. Most of these outlets have vintage vibes, minimal decor, and history attached to it. It is a must-try for all Mumbaikars to check these places out, try out this delicious food and experience the vibes!

Here’s your checklist: 1) Jimmy Boy – Fort Mutton Gravy Cutlet – Rs 320/- 2) Kyani & Co. – Marine Lines Akuri Toast and Irani Chai – Rs 80/- 3) Britannia & Co – Ballard Estate Mutton Berry Pulao – Rs 870/- 4) Yazdani – Fort Brun Maska and Masa Puff – Rs 60/- 5) Cafe Military – Fort Beer – Rs 170/- 6) Sassanian – Dhobi Talao Chicken Dhansak and Rice – Rs 170/- 7) Ideal Corner – Fort Patrani Fish – Rs 200/- K Rustom & Co. – Churchgate Ice Cream Biscuits!

How To Make Parsi Delight Crispy Chicken Farcha At Home

Chicken farcha is a Parsi deep-fried chicken appetiser which has a separate fan base, for its mlange of very desi flavours, coupled with juicy, boneless chicken thighs.

Chicken Farcha is a delightful Parsi appetiser that is crispy and juicy (representational image)

  • Farcha is a deep-fried chicken appetiser from the Parsi cuisine
  • The snack is crispy on the outside and juicy on the inside
  • Farcha is made by deep-frying spicy marinated chicken thighs

Parsi cuisine is all about comfort food that is an absolute delight for non-vegetarians. From chicken and mutton dhansak to berry pulao, Parsi dishes are a simple, yet flavourful. They can be cooked for any simple meal of the day or may also find place in an elaborated festive menu, without seeming out of place. The snacks or starters are as stellar as their Mains and their desserts can remind one of simpler times. However, not many meat-eaters in the country may be aware of Parsi delights, much less prepare them and cook them at home. These are usually available at the handful of Irani cafes that are still thriving in certain pockets of the country. Parsi snacks are especially delicious and these can be enjoyed with a cup of hot, piping Irani chai.

Today, we’re looking at a quintessential Parsi snack – Chicken Farcha. This deep-fried chicken appetiser has a separate fan base, for its mélange of very desi flavours, coupled with juicy, boneless chicken thighs. The marinade for the chicken is made from a handful of our most popular flavouring agents, including ginger, garlic, coriander and garam masala. Chicken farcha is crispy on the outside and tender on the inside and just oh-so-satisfying for every chicken lover out there. Once you bite into this desi fried chicken snack, you will forget all about the American fried chicken. What’s more? It’s a typical monsoon snack that is ready within minutes and that can be prepared using common ingredients available in all Indian kitchens.

Here’s a recipe for Parsi Chicken Farcha from Chef Pawan Bisht of Verandah Moonshine in Delhi-

1. Take fresh chicken boneless thighs and skin and clean them properly. Cut it into small 50 gram pieces.

2. In a bowl, prepare the marinade using fresh lemon juice, fresh garlic and ginger paste, coriander powder, garam masala, salt, pepper and chillies to taste. Add the chicken to the marinade and let it rest for about 20 minutes.

3. Prepare the coating using whisked eggs and red chilli powder. In a separate plate, take bread crumbs or toasted semolina.

4. Take the marinated chicken and coat it alternatively with the eggs and the bread crumbs until a thick coating is formed.

5. Deep fry the chicken pieces until deep golden-brown and then serve with chutney.

For the full recipe and quantities of ingredients, click here. This chicken farcha is a recipe that you can quickly prepare for tea-time or prepare as starters for get-together over dinner at your house. Happy cooking!

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