Patia in the Wild West


Washington-based optical and sensor engineer Ryna Karnik self-publishes a book to make bawa cooking accessible to Americans

Four years ago on Christmas, Ryna Karnik gifted her American mother-in-law a booklet of recipes belonging to the Zoroastrian tradition she hails from. Her ma-in-law would rue that what she relished in Karnik’s kitchen, she could never recreate.

Since then, Karnik’s husband, Field Nicholas Cady, who she met at the Physics major programme at Stanford, has been cajoling her to write a cookbook that acquaints Americans with Parsi cuisine.

The 28-year-old optical and sensor engineer with Microsoft, finally managed to self-publish Parsi Cooking at Home last month.

“I grew up in Portland, Oregon. Not having extended family closeby meant that we, women from the immigrant community, raised our kids together. We still meet every Thanksgiving. Half the spread at the table is traditionally American — turkey and stuffing — and the other half is pulao-dal,” says Karnik.

Interestingly, to the list of Parsi staples that make it to her book (pora or traditional masala omelette; kichri, which she calls Parsi Penicillin for the sick; Lagan no saas, a tangy fish gravy served at weddings and salli boti or boneless mutton in tomato-onion gravy sprinkled with vermicelli), she adds north Indian and Maharashtrian specials, tandoori chicken and srikhand, possibly to acquaint readers with all that’s cooking in her kitchen.

“Unlike with North Indian food, American restaurants don’t serve Parsi fare. You get to eat dhansak at get-togethers hosted by Parsi families. Since all ingredients required for Parsi cooking aren’t easily available overseas, I try to mimic traditional flavours by introducing local alternatives, while maintaining the soul of the dish.”

While Parsis in Mumbai love their kaleji-bukka and other offal as much as they do macchi or fish, Karnik experiments with wild meat and local seafood. “Often, my husband and I gather Pacific razor clams from the beach, and add them to the shrimp patia. Rather than goat or lamb, we eat a lot of wild elk, which is tastier and healthier than farmed meat,”
she says.

Since Parsi love to balance the khattu with the mitthu (sour and sweet), wine makes a special appearance in her recipes, together with vinegar, tamarind, tomatoes and lemon.

Having learnt the skills from her mother, Karnik’s first memory of cooking is picking coriander leaves from the garden to make it to the dinner her mother was stirring up. “I still taste my dish at every stage of cooking to check on balance of flavour, just the way she did,” she reminisces.

Way to Ryna’s patia
This is the dish I make when I wish to impress someone. It’s a modified version of the traditional recipe — I use Serrano peppers instead of green chilies, and add a dash of balsamic vinegar — but, as Field will agree, it turns out well.
Traditionally, you make this dish with shrimp (kolmi), but eggplant, whole button mushrooms, tofu and paneer work just as well.

pic/Wikipedia
Pic/Wikipedia

Ingredients
>> 3 medium onions, chopped fine
>> 4 medium tomatoes, chopped fine
>> 1 large Serrano pepper, minced fine
>> 1 large bunch of coriander, chopped fine
>> 2-inch ginger piece, minced fine
>> 10 cloves of garlic, minced fine
>> 1 tsp turmeric
>> 1⁄2 tsp ground cumin
>> 1⁄2 tsp chili powder
>> Salt to taste
>> 1⁄2 tsp grated jaggery
>> 1 tsp tamarind
>> 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
>> 0.5 kg shrimp

Method
>> Heat oil in a large pan or wok until the cumin thrown in sizzles
>> Add onions and cook for 30 seconds. Add garlic, ginger, Serrano, turmeric and chilli powder. Cook for 10 minutes or until onions
are caramelised
>> Add tomatoes and cook until excess water evaporates and mixture turns into a thick paste. Add tamarind, jaggery, and shrimp/mushroom. Cook on slow flame until meat/veggies are tender
>> Sprinkle coriander and add a dash of balsamic vinegar. Serve with rice and toor dal or Parsi khichdi

http://www.mid-day.com/articles/patia-in-the-wild-west/16419189#sthash.L8N3eLFH.dpuf

Bawi Bride @ J W Marriott


Bawi Bride Kitchen Brings Parsi Food Festival to J W Marriott Hotel in Mumbai

Perzen writes

I am very excited to share that this Parsi New Year, the Bawi Bride Kitchen is taking things a notch higher and is partnering with the JW Marriott Sahar to host a 10 day long Parsi food festival from August 8th – 18th. As part of the festivities we will have a special buffet of seven different Parsi items – ranging from family favourites to Parsi classics – every day and will also be hosting a very special Chef’s Table featuring a complete Parsi wedding feast on 18th August.

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For bookings to the festival please call: +91 22 2853 8656

For bookings to the Chef’s Table please call: +91 98192 85720

 

Official Press Release

JW MARRIOTT HOTEL MUMBAI SAHAR CELEBRATES AUTHENTIC PARSI CUISINE WITH BAWI BRIDE KITCHEN

Indulge in an exquisite Parsi affair from 8th – 18th August, 2015

Mumbai, August 2015: JW Marriott Hotel Mumbai Sahar presents the best of Parsi cuisine during a 10 day food festival to usher in the Parsi New Year from 8th – 18th August 2015. Prepared in collaboration with the Bawi Bride Kitchen, the menu lays down a lip-smacking array of dishes to pamper your taste buds. On a mission to spread happiness through Dhansak, Perzen Patel founded the Bawi Bride Kitchen in July 2013 through which she supplies daily Parsi bhonu, caters for gatherings, parties, pop-up lunches and hosts Parsi cooking workshops. Experience the perfection of Parsi cuisine and its selected recipes, as you indulge in the taste of exclusivity.

Featuring an array of vegetarian and non-vegetarian dishes, the ten day long festival will lay down a delicious array of family favorites and Parsi classics taking guests on a grand journey of this iconic cuisine. Some of the family favorites that Perzen will be dishing out include her Grandpa’s Kheema Kebabs – succulent kheema kebabs made with spiced potato, mince and spices, Shirinbai’s Cheese Eeda Cutlets – a heirloom cutlet dish made using boiled eggs, cheese, chillies and coriander held together in a white sauce and her Mamaiji’s Red Prawn Curry. Also on the menu are Parsi classics like succulent Mutton Dhansak, Saas Ni Machchi, Patra Ni Machchi, Mutton Pulao Kaju Chicken, Lagan Nu Custard and much more.

Commenting on the festival, Chef Vivek Bhatt – Executive Chef, JW Marriott Hotel Mumbai Sahar, said “The Parsi culture is an integral part of the city of Mumbai, food being the centre of traditions. This exquisite food festival at JW Marriott Hotel Mumbai Sahar is a celebration of the Parsi food led by Perzen Patel – who’s a connoisseur in Parsi cuisine.”

To cap off the celebrations, the festival will also feature a limited seat chef’s table on Parsi New Year – August 18th, where Perzen and the chefs at JW Café will dish out a complete Parsi style wedding feast featuring Topli na Paneer, Patra Ni Machchi, Mutton Pulao and much more.

Restaurant: JW Café, JW Marriott Hotel Mumbai Sahar

Date: 8th- 18th August, 2015

Time: 7pm – 11pm

Pricing: 1555+taxes

For inquiries, please contact us on: 022 28538656

 

About Bawi Bride Kitchen

The Bawi Bride Kitchen is a gourmet food services company specialising in Parsi food. They supply regular Parsi tiffins, organize catering for parties of up to 80 people and also host Parsi Pop-Up lunches and cooking classes. Learn more by visiting http://www.bawibride.kitchen

About JW Marriott Mumbai Sahar

JW Marriott Mumbai Sahar opens doors to effortless elegance and sophistication. Located 1 km away from the Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport Mumbai; making it an ideal destination for business and stay. With 585 intimate rooms, the property offers authentic cuisines crafted with passion, care and local flavours. With over 56,000 sq.ft. of indoor and outdoor convention space, the property offers 11 well-appointed meeting rooms with state-of-the-art conferencing facilities. The holistic Spa by JW offers a host of therapies to help you relax. At crafted perfectly so you are always left with the experience and luxury you truly desire.

Visit us online, http://www.marriott.com/hotels/travel/bomsa-jw-marriott-mumbai-sahar/, @jwsahar andwww.facebook.com/JWSahar

Media Contacts:

Sapna Chadha sapna.chadha@marriotthotels.com +91 9820776631

Rohini Sequeira rohini@fort.madisonindia.com +91 9819383578

JW Marriott Hotel Mumbai Sahar Madison Public Relations

5 Awesome Parsi Recipes For Next Pateti


Parsi food is a combination of Gujarati and Persian cuisines, wherein meat plays an essential role. The main ingredient in the Parsi food is white sugar or jaggery, besides three basic spices – Parsi garam masala, sambhar masala and dhansak masala. They have a lot to offer, from Dhansak, Chicken Farcha to Sali Boti, so we did some digging and found some traditional Parsi recipes straight from the treasure trove of Mumbai-based Perzen Patel aka Bawi Bride, a Parsi food expert.

Click Here for the delicious dishes and their recipes

Filmmaker gifts Mumbai its first Irani cafe in 50 years


A filmmaker undertook intensive research in 2013 on the city’s Irani cafe culture. The result of that study? A brand new Irani cafe, Mumbai’s first in 50 years, finds Anju Maskeri

 This 370-sq-ft space at Rosary Chawl, Mahim West, wears a rather desolate look for a Thursday afternoon. “All the workers are fasting for Ramzan and will get back to work in the evening,” says Dr Mansoor Showghi Yezdi, as he leads us into Café Irani Chaii — Mumbai’s first Irani café to come up in five decades.

Dr Mansoor Showghi

Dr Mansoor Showghi Yezdi at Matunga’s Koolar & Co Restaurant & Stores. Pic/Shadab KhanThe shutter is half down, plastic sheets are up to protect the walls from moisture and the newspapers on some of the mirrors have still not been taken down. “It’s a work in progress,” admits 58-year-old Yezdi, as he offers us a couple of bentwood chairs to sit, while offering a nugget of information — “did you know that bentwood chairs (the chairs that are the trademark of the city’s Irani cafés) used to be imported from Poland. Sadly, they are not manufactured any longer.” When Yezdi started hunting for furniture and décor for his new place, he says, he had to search every nook and cranny of Chor Bazaar. And then, it took him a year to find enough for his 32-seater café. Some items — the ceramic kettles, the tiles with Persian inscriptions and the famed samovar (tea urn) — were imported from Iran.

Dr Mansoor Showghi Yezdi has also used mirror panels across Café Irani Chaii. He says that the man behind the gulla (money counter) would use these to keep a watch on his customers. PIC/SAMEER ABEDI

Dr Mansoor Showghi Yezdi has also used mirror panels across Café Irani Chaii. He says that the man behind the gulla (money counter) would use these to keep a watch on his customers. Pic/Sameer AbediThough a filmmaker by profession, Yezdi says he is a ‘chaiwalla’ at heart. “We have been in the café business since 1890. My father owned Light of Mahim on Cadell Road. He sold it to his partner in the 1980s,” he says. The café has now been replaced by a medical store. In 2013, the Mahim resident made a documentary on the Irani café culture of Mumbai, Pune and Hyderabad. Rashid Irani, film critic and owner of Brabourne at Dhobi Talao which shut in 2008, says drought in the regions of Yazd and Kerman in Iran caused the large scale Iranian migration in the early 20th century. Bombay, with its welcoming cosmopolitan culture, was an obvious choice for refuge. “Real estate was cheap back then, making it possible for them to rent spaces. About 90 per cent of the Irani café owners were tenants,” he adds.

The traditional teakwood gulla at the new Mahim cafe. Pic/Sameer Abedi

The traditional teakwood gulla at the new Mahim cafe. Pic/Sameer AbediYezdi, whose grandfather was among those who migrated at the time, adds, “Young Iranian men would gather over cups of warm tea in the evenings, reminiscing about their homeland. And, at some point of time, someone decided to charge a small sum for the beverage and soon the Iranians were selling chai,” he laughs.

Turning somber, he says, it would sadden him to read about Irani cafés shutting down. In the last decade, nearly 10 have shut shop including Bastani and Brabourne near Dhobi Talao.

“We were gradually losing an integral part of city’s heritage. I felt it was my responsibility as an Iranian living in Mumbai to revive the dying breed of cafés,” he adds.

While owners of most Irani cafés struggle to keep the family interested in the business, new blood has trickled into Café Colony, near Hindu Colony in Dadar East. Last year, Bibi Fotimeh, Bibi Sadhaut and son Mirza Mohammed — children of owner Agha Irani Nazariyan — started pitching in. PIC/SAMEER ABEDI

While owners of most Irani cafés struggle to keep the family interested in the business, new blood has trickled into Café Colony, near Hindu Colony in Dadar East. Last year, Bibi Fotimeh, Bibi Sadhaut and son Mirza Mohammed — children of owner Agha Irani Nazariyan — started pitching in. Pic/Sameer AbediCulture on a plate
Simin Patel, a DPhil in Oriental Studies from Balliol College, Oxford University, and the founder of Bombaywalla.org — a blog that chronicles the city’s heritage structures — recalls her favourite cafés. “At Paris Bakery in Dhobi Talao, when a customer enquires about the price of a packet of batasa biscuits, owner Danesh Nejadkay instantly offers a sample, instead. ‘Once you taste, you are trapped’, he will tell you,” says Patel, adding, that Nejadkay even offers batasa etiquette. “He will tell you to bite into the batasa, not 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,” adds Patel who is working on a book on Irani cafes with photographer Hashim Badami.

Rafique Baghdadi

Rafique Baghdadi. Pic/Bipin KokateIt’s this connect and comfort with the customer that Mohammed Hussain, Yezdi’s 31-year-old son, hopes to establish to beat his competition. To attract the crowds, Yezdi will don the traditional Iranian outfit garment — a long shirt, loose pants, a turban and geeveh (Iranain shoes) — every Sunday and personally serve the customers. “The idea is to revive the culture and keep the business afloat,” says Hussain, who will hold the fort once the café opens its doors for customers.

Veteran journalist Rafique Baghdadi sounds incredulous to hear about the new Irani café in town. Baghdadi, who over the years has made many curious Mumbaikars familiar with the Irani culture in the city with his heritage walks, reminisces the culture that they represent. “It’s absolutely cosmopolitan. It didn’t matter if you’re a celebrity or a common man; everybody was received with the same warmth,” says the 68-year-old, adding that of the 400 Irani cafés in the city in 1950s, only 30 remain. Baghdadi, who favoured Light of Asia at Fort during his college days, says part of the charm of a typical Irani cafe was its decor.

Little has changed about the place since the 1960s (when Nazariyan took over). Even today, the chai is made in the traditional samovar

Little has changed about the place since the 1960s (when Nazariyan took over). Even today, the chai is made in the traditional samovar“They have high ceilings, Persian inscriptions on their walls, old paintings of Iran, glass top tables and bentwood chairs,” he adds. When he hears that Yezdi has managed to find those, he exclaims, “You don’t find those Iranian artefacts anymore. I have three bentwood chairs, which cost me a fortune. One of them is broken and I can’t even find someone to fix it.”

Rafique Baghdadi says part of an Irani café’s charm is to do with décor characterised by high ceilings, marble-top tables and bentwood chairs like you see at the 102-year-old Sassanian Bakery And Boulangerie at Dhobi Talao. PIC/SAMEER MARKANDE

Rafique Baghdadi says part of an Irani café’s charm is to do with décor characterised by high ceilings, marble-top tables and bentwood chairs like you see at the 102-year-old Sassanian Bakery And Boulangerie at Dhobi Talao. Pic/Sameer MarkandeBaghdadi also mentions that the city’s Irani cafés were the first to get a jukebox — this is where people would come to listen to music. Newspapers were also a big draw, he adds. “People would sit here and read the day’s papers. Often, one page would be at one table, and other, with a second guest,” says the Mazgaon resident. While Yezdi plans to keep an operational jukebox, he will also retain the gulla (the teakwood money counter). It’s also, why his walls will be mirror-lined. “The mirrors help the man at the counter keep an eye on each customer,” he laughs. But, it’s not just the décor that still serves as a draw. Food plays a big role as well.

 Dhansak at Sassanian (top) are hallmark dishes. Yezdi hopes to recreate these on his menu

 Dhansak at Sassanian are hallmark dishes. Yezdi hopes to recreate these on his menuMost Irani cafés also function as bakeries, offering a range of items — cakes, khari, puffs — on its menu. It’s something that Yezdi hopes to replicate.

While the menu — which will be in Persian script along with a Hindi translation — will have Parsi staples like akuri, dhansak, sali boti, kheema pao and also Persian items like berry pulao (with berries imported from Iran), there will also be ‘seeni kabab’, a delicious Middle Eastern item. Desserts will include bakalava, halwa, cakes, pastries along with vanilla and strawberry ice-cream from Palonji. Duke’s rasberry soda, masala soda and gingerale will replace aerated drinks, says Yezdi adding that he will, in good humour, replicate the ‘do not’ board. Watch out for the ‘do not comb your hair’, ‘do not gamble’, ‘do not talk to the waiter’, ‘do not sit unnecessarily’ signs.

The Berry Pulav at Brittania & Co

The Berry Pulav at Brittania & CoNot about the money
For most of his life Yezdi has been a filmmaker. In 2007 year, he produced Ziarat, a documentary on the sufi saints of India, and has also directed Khanebedoosh, a documentary on Iranian gypsies who came to India around 500 years ago which he hopes to release soon. His son, Hussain, a commerce graduate has assisted him over the last 10 years — even though ‘he always wanted to start his own restaurant’.

Entering the restaurant business in Mumbai is a tricky decision, but Yezdi, who dredged up his personal resources to buy the Mahim space, says he is not in it for the money.

“The prices of food items will be on the lines of other cafés. In fact, anybody in uniform, school children or cops, will get a ten per cent discount,” he says. Just a few minutes before we arrived at the café, Yezdi tells us, an old man, walking past in, peered in and asked if it’s a Irani café. It’s this curiosity, he hopes, brings in others as well.

This bawa is in town and here to stay


Parsi folks are known as Bawas across India and perhaps the world. These handful of folks in India and around the world are only proponents left of their fine & celebrated cuisine , mostly passed on from mother – daughter. South Bombay ( as it is still called ) or the Fort area of modern times is known for some of the best parsi food Mumbai has to offer ( and possibly across India ). Places like Ideal Corner, Jimmy Boy , Britannia and Co, Leopold , Mondegar are the few last remaining traditionally Parsi – Irani cafes( and some others in Bandra – Jumjoji et al , though I haven’t personally been to it ).
When you go down from 550 in 1950’s to 15-20 in 2015, this dying breed / time capsule junta probably needs more than just survival – that is exactly where A D & Sabina Singh and their famed Soda Bottle Openerwala feature. As they put it – it is our tribute to the dying legacy of the wonderful chaotic, crowded, bustling, colorful, quirky, cluttered, eccentric and so real world of an Irani café. Our way of reviving the love for the edu ( egg ) and the disappearing race behind the cafes
Irani cafes still form an integral part of the Mumbai food culture something a lot of people from town or out of town want to be part of. The eccentric owners who are now much more of the attraction than the food sometimes, the tangentially different menu and “inexpensive” food all play an important role in the South Bombay culture fabric.
When an eatery offering some of the chosen best of all the Parsi Irani food offerings and Mumbai street food comes to town and when it’s an Olive venture  – awesomeness has to ensue.
Located on the Road 1, Jubilee Hills, Soda Bottle Openerwala or SBOW opens its 4th outlet across India after Delhi, Gurgaon, and Bangalore. It is a, if I am not mistaken 60 odd seater restaurant with all its quirks in place

 

More often than not, you will find a sizeable crowd outside – waiting. As you walk up to the restaurant, you will find the “B Merwans”, a Girgaum landmarks larger than life poster, a glass showcase , that also doubles up as the Irani bakery ,  that also dishes out some of the many childhood favs – poppins , orange candy et al. On one side, you will also see one katcha and striped pyjama and the cash counter otherwise known as the galla.
Chess board floor tiles , red checkered and crochet table cloths, coloured glass lamps, cuckoo clocks, brass tea kettles and dabbas, tin boxes, locks, old paraphernalia , a wall dedicated to the lineage and an overhead toy train track to keep you and your little one engrossed till the time your food gluttony takes over.
They also have a functional jukebox at the bar, for guzzlers to choose a selection of some of the best of the retro tracks it might belt out. While you might wonder what is the connection of the name and the food, there is a wall inside that is dedicated to Soda bottles and Rustom – SODABOTTLEOPENERWALA and his lineage – do check it out

 

SodaBottleOpenerWala serves a mix of classic Parsi dishes and some of the bests of Bombay street food. Although the term Bombay food excites me, I am there for the bawagiri .
Ive had the chicken farcha which is the original PFC – parsi fried chicken, Patrani macchi, the prawn patio, the kolmi fry and the berry pulao from the non veg section. While the macchi was small – thanks to it not being the season for it, it did remind me of the dish I’ve had in Mumbai and probably the first time I had it in Hyderabad. Ideally i’d like to have a bigger sized fish, but you can go wrong in so many ways with the dish so subtle , SBOW nailed that part except the size which I believe they are working on. The berry pulao different from the biryani, Hyderabad is used to and swears by , will need getting used to, but insufficient for a meal. The farcha is ideal bar food, for that most of their starters are.
From the drinks menu We ordered the Shikanjebin and the raspberry soda. I’ve liked both these drinks and have consumed atleast 2 per visit. These are different from the regular offerings and a crowd favourite.

 

 

From the drinks menu We ordered the Shikanjebin and the raspberry soda. I’ve liked both these drinks and have consumed atleast 2 per visit. These are different from the regular offerings and a crowd favorite.

I don’t choose to look at the vegetarian section that often, but with Yojana being eggetarian, somethings are inevitable.

We ordered the bharuchi paneer akuri and paav that night, my wife told me it’s like home food. While it might sound very pedestrian, reflecting that high quality of home food does need a pat on the back. The paav were very nice , may not be bohri stuff exactly but expecting it to reflect that taste as a expectation is wrong. SBOW is a cover band with its own tracks  , give them their due ..

Click Here for more

The Parsi Trail: Top 7 Parsi Restaurants In Mumbai


The Parsis take their food very seriously. No wonder, since Parsi cuisine perfectly braids together Iranian, Gujarati, British, even Portuguese and Goan influences. Think dhansakwith its roots in the gently-spiced meat and rice dishes of Iran, layered with Gujarati spices and dal. Or imagine saas ni macchi, transforming an insipid béchamel sauce into a flavourful egg and vinegar-based fish dish. Naturally, the best food is to be had at Parsi homes. But there’s hope yet for those without Parsi friends; luckily, Mumbai is dotted with charming Parsi restaurants and Irani food. We explore a few favourites –

(10 Best Parsi Recipes)

  1. Cafe Military
  2. Paradise
  3. Britannia
  4. RTI
  5. DPYA’s snack Center
  6. By The Way
  7. Ideal Corner

Click Here for the full reviews

 

The Parsi food pilgrims


When diaspora Zoroastrians acquaint themselves with their roots in Gujarat, Parsi classics make their journey sweeter
 
Meher Mirza
The Parsi food pilgrims

Cyrus Dotivala talks to Zororoots participants at Surat’s Dotivala Bakery. Photograph from Zoroastrian Return to Roots team
I’m going to be honest with you. I’m a Parsi but I’ve always had a somewhat tenuous love for Parsi food. Of course I liked the odd dish here and there—dhan-dar chawal, simple yellow dal and rice usually eaten with a spicy prawn patiyosali marghi, in which the chicken is doused with crisply fried potato sticks; the plump globes of Parsi paneer soaked in salty whey. But the dhansak that everyone raved about, the patra ni macchi, the gloppy akuri, the eggy lagan-nu-custard… frankly, I couldn’t see what the fuss was all about.
So when I heard about the year-old Zoroastrian Return to Roots (Zororoots) programme, which sees an intrepid band of Parsis escort young diaspora Zoroastrians on historical and cultural trips around India, I dismissed the whole thing. “It’ll probably involve eating a lot of dhansak, caramel custard and praying,” I scoffed to my friends.
photo

But then something unexpected happened. Perzen Patel (caterer, blogger at Bawibride.com and one of the participants) started tweeting about her trip earlier this year. “Lunch today was at the WZO dharamshala in Sanjan, the bustling port where our ancestors landed,” read one of her tweets. “Most people buy bangles, sudrehs or religious items as souvenirs from Navsari. This BawiBride buys vinegar coz food is religion!” read another one.

As Patel’s trip slowly unfolded on Twitter, something within me flickered gently to life, urging me to find out more. The most intriguing part for me was their sojourn in Gujarat, a bastion of sorts for my people, where cities and towns still bear strong traces of the Parsi identity.
It was only fitting that the trip began at Sanjan, where a commemorative pillar marks the arrival of the Zoroastrians (either in the eighth or the 10th century; there is no agreement on this). The World Zoroastrian Organization guesthouse that housed the band of merry travellers “is popular for its preparations of tarapori patiyo, a sweet-sour dish made with dried Bombay duck, and sukka boomla no patiyo (pickled dried fish),” says Shireen Havewala, Zororoots founder and one of the trip organizers. On the last tour, however, the participants ate tangdi chicken and kheema(“totally avoidable,” grumbled Patel), simply because those were the freshest dishes.
But even Patel admits that the star of the show was “Jamshed uncle’sdoodh na puff,” a dish not unlike Old Delhi’s daulat ki chaat. Across towns in Gujarat, the puff was, by necessity, a winter dish. Fresh, sweet milk is thoroughly boiled and left to cool overnight in the garden, with a wisp ofmulmul covering the dekchi (pot). The next morning, the dew-drenched cream that has risen to the top is beaten until a frothy cloud forms. The froth is then scooped into glasses and eaten at once. Today, of course, anyone with a refrigerator can make it at any time, as Jamshed Gandhi, WZO guesthouse manager, did.
photo

But it was the group’s visit to Surat’s Dotivala Bakery that really tickled their palate. It dates back to 1616, when the region was under Dutch control. Yearning for a taste of home, the colonizers set up a bakery and employed five Indians to run it. The English eventually ousted the Dutch, but one of the bakers, Faramji Dotivala, continued baking bread. Sales, however, dropped. Perhaps it was too expensive? And then a strange thing happened: The bakery began to notice a demand for days-old dry bread, which sold for less. Over time, it morphed into the rusk-dry Irani biscuit. In its wake came the Surti batasa (a flaky, buttery round biscuit flecked with cumin) and the sweet nankhatai.

Current proprietor Cyrus Dotivala, a direct descendent of the venerable Faramji, was a generous host to the participants, sharing baked goodies and stories. “The (Dotivala) bakery in Surat uses 200kg of flour to sell more than 500kg of batasa, a special Parsi biscuit now adopted by Indians the world over! Heading to the kitchens of this 200-year-old bakery (sic) was magical,” tweeted Patel. Slowly, gently, her enthusiasm was whittling away at my condescension, piquing my curiosity for this intangible cultural history.
Yet, it was the little town of Navsari, some 40km south of Surat, that was arguably the culinary apogee of the trip. For Parsi bon vivants, Navsari is inextricably associated with the EF Kolah store, purveyors of Parsi condiments for well over a century. Its pickles, prepared with Kolah’s special cane vinegar—called sarko and brewed in wooden casks in exactly the same process since 1885—are its most famous products. There are legions of fans for their gharab nu achar (fish roe pickle), the sweet bafenu, made from an entire ripe mango, and gorkeri nu achar, made from half-ripe mangoes and jaggery; the vinegar is used in everything from saas ni machhi to stew.
Anushae Parakh, a 23-year-old Pakistani Zoroastrian, staggered home with boxes full of goodies. “I stocked up on the achars and masalas which I do not get in Pakistan,” she says. “My suitcase still smells of tarapori patiyo (a tart and sweet pickle made of Bombay duck infused with vinegar).”
Among the disorderly churn of Navsari’s Mota Bazaar is another Kolah establishment: Yazdan Cold Drink House, owned by Jamshed R. Kolah. The Gujarati and English signboards proclaim Yazdan’s brief menu: ice creams, flavoured sodas including ice-cream soda, and the doodh cold drink (falooda), with its attendant scoop of ice cream.
photo

While most delegates went to the Navsari fire temple, two group members—Patel and Arzan Wadia (another Zororoots founder and trip organizer)— stole away to Yazdan. “I had the kesar pista and the gulkand ice-creams, both of which were fantastic. With the gulkand, you don’t get the sharpness of rose essence, and you can actually bite down on crushed petals,” says Patel. With its bare tiled walls, graceless furniture and steel utensils, Yazdan lacks old-world allure, but there’s no diluting the scrumptiousness of the ice cream.

Not far away is Mama Patticewala, where Wadia and Patel dug into the delicious pattice. “I’ve known about the shop since my childhood—my maternal grandparents are from Navsari—and it’s quite the institution,” says Wadia. “Their most famous item is the potato pattice stuffed with coconut and other nuts, which usually gets over by noon.”
For Parakh, the most memorable meal was one she ate at Jamshed Baug. Built in 1849, the Navsari baug is one the best-kept Parsi dharamshalas in India, with rows of sloping roof-topped low buildings standing around a wide courtyard. “The quintessentially Parsi dish of curry-chaval was made with a unique Indian twist, but it still reminded me of home,” she says. “The taste of Gujarati-Parsi food in India is different from that made in Pakistan; the spices and herbs really make a difference.”
Suddenly, unexpectedly, I was yearning for a taste of the Parsi curry, usually made in India by incorporating roasted and ground poppy seeds and sesame seeds, even grams and peanuts, with the regular curry masala.
The Zororoots tour ended at Dahanu, a postcard-perfect seaside town in Maharashtra, with winding lanes and rustic houses. Butterfly-bedeckedchikoo and litchi orchards slope away from the railway station. Although there are a few bakers and entrepreneurs here, most Iranis have structured their lives around the fruits. On a speedy lunch-stop just outside Dahanu, the participants dug into chikoo chips, a speciality of the area. “We also had saas nu gosh (mutton), which is unusual in Parsi cuisine,” says Patel (usually, Parsis make the glutinous white saas or curry with fish). There was also plump boi (mullet), its flaky flesh slathered in a shell of masala. This was simple Parsi food cooked and eaten as close to its cultural roots as possible. As endings go, this one tasted pretty good.
But was it really an ending? As I researched and then wrote this story, I could feel my personal notions about Parsi food shifting, from dishes that I’d seen virtually every day of my life to the carrier of the culture of a particular time and place. With every bite of my batasa, I was also consuming a piece of hybrid Parsi history; every mouthful of saas ni macchiwould make me wonder about the curious evolution of Dahanu’s saas nu gosh. Food is so much more than just food; this was just a beginning for me.
For participation, costs and other details, visit Zororoots.org.

Tatrelo Kolmi (Prawn) Patio


Tatrelo Prawn Patio Ready

As many of you know I love travelling, especially culinary based travel. The idea of exploring a new place through its food sends butterflies buzzing in my tummy.

But, after a few weeks of said gluttony the Bawi me starts craving for her plate of Dhandar – plain yellow toor dal served in a simple tadka of ghee, garlic and jeera. The thought of this creamy dal served on a bed of steamed white rice alongside some E.F. Kolah’s spicy Methiu (mango) Achaar generally has me salivating for most of my return journey home.

However, there are days when you want something a bit fancy with your Dhandar. For those days we have Patio.

Tatrelo Kolmi Patio in Red Pot

The Parsi Patio at its very basic is a sweet, sour and slightly spicy seafood accompaniment featuring coriander seeds, jeera, garlic, jaggery and cane vinegar. Why is the dish called Patio and not a curry or masala? Well, that’s because this dish was historically made in the ‘patio tapeli’ – a unique utensil that is wide and flat at the bottom with bulging round sides.

There are heaps of different Patio dishes like this Lagan no Patio I’ve written about before. We also have a Pumpkin Patio for the vegetarians as well as a Tarapori Patio for the fish lovers. But, the Tatrelo Kolmi (Prawn) Patio is the easiest to make of all and can be ready to serve in under 10 minutes. Here’s how you can make it – ingredients at the bottom as always.

Marinate the prawns in turmeric, red chilli powder and salt; keep aside. While this marinates, finely chop the onion.

Marinating prawns for Prawn Patio

Chopped onions for prawn patio

Heat the oil in a pan, add the garlic paste and chopped onion; let it brown

Fry the onions and ginger-garlic paste for Prawn Patio

Add the chopped chilles and dhana-jeera powder and mix until well combined

Add Masala for Prawn Patio

Tip in the pureed tomatoes and jaggery mixing everything well. Don’t add any water to the pan, and let it cook uncovered so that the moisture released from the tomatoes dries out. After about 3 – 4 minutes, add in the chopped tomatoes as well and let everything cook.

Add tomato puree and jaggery for Prawn Patio

When the tomato has reduced – you want a thick consistency with very little gravy – add in half the coriander, vinegar and the prawns. Cover the pot and let it cook for five minutes.

Add vinegar and prawns for Prawn Patio

Take off the heat and add in the rest of the coriander as garnish. Serve hot with Dhandar or by itself with some yellow Khichdi and Far-Far Sariya or if you’re not a rice lover then just atop a bowl full of the dar.

Prawn Patio Complete

Prawn Patio served with Dhandar

To make enough for four you will need:

500 gm prawns (about 20) shelled and de-veined but with the tail on
1 tsp turmeric powder
2 tsp red chilli powder
2 tsp dhana jeera powder
1 medium onion finely chopped
1 tbsp garlic paste
2 tbsp oil
2 green chillies finely chopped
6 tomatoes (4 pureed and 2 finely chopped)
1 inch knob of jaggery
2 tbsp cane vinegar (can replace with white vinegar if unavailable)
Big handful of chopped coriander

Food Trails – Perzen’s Paradise


Her unbridled love for food, passion for her lineage and enthusiasm to share anecdotes only a Parsi can ever tell you over a meal, led Perzen Patel to set up the food-centred Bawi Bride

Perzen Patel’s story recalls bits and pieces of the acclaimed movie, Julie & Julia, where a young, married city girl takes up a unique cooking challenge and blogs about it. The 28-year-old founder and ‘chief tasting officer’ of Bawi Bride recounts her journey to every Parsi’s paradise.

Tell us about your journey with food…

Eating food and feeding food runs in my DNA. My maternal grandmother, whom I loving called mamaiji, ran a Parsi dabba service before I was born. At the age of 15, I knew I wanted to do something in life related to food, so we moved to New Zealand for nine years, where I studied hospitality and marketing and when my mom sold kebabs and pattice.

I came to be known as the ‘continental chef’—someone eager to whip up dips, pastas and baked dishes—so much so that for my wedding lunch, rather than having the traditional Dhandar Patio, my parents requested I cook nachos.

 

Mamaiji's-Prawn-Curry-and-Steamed-Rice

 

From ‘continental chef’ to ‘Bawi Bride’, how did you traverse that phase?

Six months into getting married and moving to Mumbai, I realised I’d have to learn some Parsi cooking. Especially since I had married a blue-blood Parsi, who loved his Dhansak and Patra ni Machchi.

I was always on secret calls to mom in New Zealand at midnight! I found barely any trusted resources online to learn Parsi food. Given the rate at which Irani cafes are dying out, I worried that soon the history and stories behind Parsi food would be lost, if nobody did anything about it.

So, Bawi Bride started as an attempt to document my quest into mastering Parsi food and restoring it back to its former glory. I coined the term to fit my lineage and my status as a ‘newly minted bride’. A month into the journey, #BawaGroom and my readers convinced me that simply writing about Parsi food wasn’t enough and that I should start feeding it to others too. So I started with weekend special menus, which grew to a full catering menu. Later in 2014, we hosted our fist pop-up experience.

 

Bawi-Sasu's-Kaju-Chicken

What are the services Bawi Bride is best known for?

Bawi Bride has grown into a full-fledged business! I cater for anywhere between four to 70 people, plan Parsi pop-ups at my almost-century old Mumbai home, conduct personalised one-on-one cooking classes, and offer daily Parsi meal service (where no single dish is repeated within a month!).

 

Do you try your mother and grandmother’s recipes?

Most of these recipes are theirs but I trust Katy Dalal’s Jamva Chaloji and my newest favourite is Time and Talent Millennium, a compilation of over 300 Parsi and ‘continental’ recipes cooked by Parsis that were originally contributed at a book club.

 

Grandpa's-Kheema-Kebabs

What are the challenges you’ve faced?

Well, I am not a professionally trained chef, so, everything I’ve learned is trial and error. But that’s also been a lot of fun and has resulted in many great innovations—the Lagan nu Custard ice cream was a result of an overdone custard while the Sali Boti Pizza came from having no idea about appetites and making about two extra kilograms of the dish.

 

Chicken Wing Farchas

 

And your successes…

I wouldn’t say there’s any one single success story because I enjoy each day in the kitchen. If I had to pick one, it would be the look in the eyes of my guests, when they have their first bite of a Dhansak—that makes it all worth it.

 

What’s next on your to-do list?

Hopefully further exploring the Quick Service Restaurant space, investing more into operations and being able to host Parsi pop-up experiences in other cities besides Mumbai.

 

Happy-customers-eating-at-a-Pop-Up

What are your favourite Parsi foods?

I love cooking, eating and feeding my mamaiji’s Prawn Curry Rice, Dhandar and Lagan no Patio, Boomla’s (Bombay Ducks) and my grandpa’s Kheema Kebabs.

 

Perzen_Bio

Best advice you’ve ever got?

Don’t cook when you’re upset.

 

Is there one golden rule that you never break when cooking?

I follow a recipe to the T the first time I try it. Of course you’re going to amend it as you go along, but it’s important that the first time, I understand the vision and stay true to the chef who developed the recipe.

Menu of our very first popup Beer and Bhonu

 

Profile Shot at a Bawi Bride Pop Up

Your biggest influences?

My mom and my mamaiji have greatly influenced me. My paternal grandfather taught me how to buy the best fish and that it’s okay to travel a distance to get good produce and ingredients.

 

BOX

Parsi cuisine is heavily influenced by the foods of Iran and Gujarat, both places where the community has lived in for over 800 years. Their love for mutton and dry fruits comes from their Iranian lineage, while liking fish and everything sweet yet sour at the same time, comes from living in Gujarat, so close to the coast.

If you’re looking for a hearty meal, the best place for one will always be at someone’s house. Patel suggests Kyani for breakfast and snacks. For lunch, Ideal Corner or check out the Bawi Bride Kitchen.

 

Get in touch with Bawi Bride:

Website: Bawibride.com/kitchen

Facebook: Facebook.com/BawiBride

Twitter: @BawiBride

Instagram: @BawiBride

Email: orders@bawibride.kitchen

Call: 09819285720

http://gochaselife.com/perzens-paradise/

Kheema per Eeda


Kheema per Eeda – Parsi spiced minced lamb topped with fried runny eggs

 

Chance are these days given the love for a plate of spicy kheema in my household, there are never any leftovers but if there every were I would still use to them to make a delicious meal with Indian dishes being my inspiration. My mother made a few things with leftover kheema that are probably my favourite dishes to eat.

She always made the best parathas ever! And I always loved when leftover kheema was stuffed in paratha with lots of coriander and chillies, fried in butter and served at breakfast. Although one of the other dishes I remember was Kheema per eeda; simply put spiced minced lamb simmered and topped with fried eggs. The joy of mopping the plate with the minced lamb gravy and the runny eggs is seconds to none.

It’s a Parsi addition to our thriving regional meal, and there are other variations too including one with potatoes which are a breakfast staple in my home. I make Kheema per eeda if I have leftover minced lamb although it doesn’t stop me from cooking minced lamb just so I can make it either! The recipe for kheema is a really simple one with not too many spices but super delicious. At the end of the cooking process crack the eggs over the simmering gravy and let them cook. Served with chapatti and some salad this breakfast (or lunch!) addition is one that will always have you coming back for more.

Click Here for the ingredients and the recipe