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Mister Merchant’s brings more Parsi quirk to Pune’s restaurant scene

You may dress things up all you like, and court the crowds with all the razzmatazz, but the success of a contemporary Indian restaurant often depends on what it does with spice. At Mister Merchant’s—Pune’s ode to Indian and Middle Eastern culinary indulgence—generous sprinklings of sumac, delicate strands of saffron, and a battalion of reviving garnishes are helping to bring flavours from the Silk Route to life.

A sense of style and character flows through every element at Mister Merchants including its bespoke crockery and cutlery

A sense of style and character flows through every element at Mister Merchant’s, including its bespoke crockery and cutlery

Anchoring itself as an address for ‘Contemporary Indian Mezze’, Mister Merchant’s captures the eye through a post-colonial vintage air, before it gratifies the taste buds. With its textured walls of green and rust, dark woods, photographs that hint at a bygone romance, artefacts that keeps the ruse of antiquity going, geometric black-and-white flooring, and a general speakeasy vibe rooted in mellow tones, this is very much an address for the breezy affair or the intimacy of grown-up conversation. That speakeasy vibe is heightened by the elevated al fresco bar entrance that gives way to steps that lead down into the restaurant, affording it a touch of playful secrecy.

Against the backdrop of an eclectic soundtrack of distant jazz and ethnic lounge, are plated the cuisines of India and the Middle East. The restaurant lives up to its promise of being mezze-heavy; the selection of entrees, small plates, and finger foods is exhaustive and beautifully plucked from select, coveted food philosophies that came to define the cuisines along the Silk Route.

The zerowaste cocktails are an able accompaniment to the array of mezze on offer

The zero-waste cocktails are an able accompaniment to the array of mezze on offer

The Saffron Chicken Cigar, for instance, is a crunchy coming together of poultry, cheese, onions, and spice—ideal for finger food nonchalance. The Mushroom & Truffle Baklava melts before it fully hits the tongue. A portfolio of Indian and Iranian kebabs pay homage to their origins while deviating playfully in the form of sumac immersion and such, illustrating how closely the two lands are bound by flavour and culinary imaginations. Dishes like the dhaba-inspired Thecha & Curry Leaf Hummus and extravagantly juicy Chicken Joojeh Masti are fine examples of the collaborations at play.

Mister Merchant’s is part of a curious contemporary fashion in dining where new restaurants, to infuse enigma and narrative into the brand, arrive with created mythologies. There is no Mister Merchant, to be clear. The team at Pass Code Hospitality (the parent entity of Mister Merchant’s, home to SAZ, Jamun, and others), spent time deciding on the type of food it wanted to do, the ambience it wanted to create. Mister Merchant’s the restaurant and its eponymous character were born out of that process and out of the team’s personal journeys. As a gourmand then you’re at home with a Parsi trader, where the food is a reflection of his voyages through the world—taking inspiration from a generation of men who used to travel to Persia, the Middle East, and Central Asia to trade goods—across the Levant, Egypt, Turkey, Iran, Afghanistan, and back home to India. Mister Merchant’s assumes the form of a gastronomic rendezvous with the Silk Route, in a stylish contemporary atmosphere that oozes warmth, geniality, and a certain subtle plushness.

Light greens warm woods and the geometric blackandwhite flooring make for a warm arresting ambience at Mister Merchant's...

Light greens, warm woods, and the geometric black-and-white flooring make for a warm, arresting ambience at Mister Merchant’s, Kalyani Nagar, Pune

“The menu is a reflection of this character’s travels and his life. We’ve created an elevated Mediterranean-plus dining experience that takes you places. Middle Eastern dishes have Indian swagger,” says Executive Chef & Partner Rahul Pereira. “The Indian dishes have elements of Arab seasoning. And some dishes are left true to the original, via the best of ingredients and a Mister Merchant’s signature. For instance, many of the old Parsi business families had Goan chefs, so you’ll find some unexpected Goan appearances on the menu.”

An assortment of hummus plates—including the Ghee amp Podi Hummus and Steak Hummus—start things off on the menu

An assortment of hummus plates—including the Ghee & Podi Hummus and Steak Hummus—start things off on the menu

Together with the mythical Mister Merchant, the restaurant has been a journey for the team too. The members have scoured antique shops and thrift markets to gather the things that would go into a Parsi gentleman’s home. Family photographs, ornate frames, world maps, faded certificates, heirloom lamps and figurines—they’ve all gone into the making of this space. The journey has been more literal for Chef Pereira. “I was at the India By The Nile festival a few years ago on invitation, and each night we’d have koshari from a different place. There was no way koshari was not going to be on my menu—but with desi ghee and an Indian heart,” he says.

A hearty selection of Indian and Persian kebabs follow

A hearty selection of Indian and Persian kebabs follow

A new song comes on. In its drowsy vibe, the female singer’s lush chants, and exotic heartbeat, it’s hard to pinpoint the track’s provenance. It could be Indian, Lebanese, Turkish, or a mélange of all these ethnic cultural flavours. You get the feeling Mister Merchant’s wouldn’t have it any other way.

Mister Merchant’s, Suman Business Park, next to Hotel Royal Orchid Central, Kalyani Nagar, Pune. Hours: 12 noon–4pm for lunch; 7pm–1am for dinner. Call +91-9175822202. Meal for two with alcohol: approx Rs2,500.


NAMC Institute of Zoroastrian Studies – Joint Lecture Event of NAMC and ZAH – Sunday, June 25, 2023

             NAMC Institute of Zoroastrian Studies


We are pleased to announce our upcoming Lecture event. 

This is an in-person lecture event at ZAH facilities at the Zoroastrian Association of Houston

8787 W Airport Blvd., Houston, TX 77071.

Sunday, June 25, 2023, 10:00 AM to 1:00 PM CDT (Central Daylight Saving Time)

Lecture 1: Religions in Pre-Zoroastrian Iran – Ervad Cawas Desai


Lecture 2: Ecology in Zoroastrianism – Ervad Tehemton Mirza

Lecture 3: Asha – Righteousness – Ervad Kyrus Buchia

Lecture 4: Ask a Mobed – Panel discussion

(Each segment will be about 45 minutes long)

Interested people can also join on Zoom.

Meeting ID: 824 3218 1448

Passcode: NAMCIZS

Associations and Organizations:

Please forward this announcement, including the attachment, to all your members.  Thank you.



North American Mobeds Council

‘Zarthosht no Diso’ – May 23, 2023

May 23, 2023, Roj Khorshed Mah Dae, was observed by Parsis as ‘Zarthosht no Diso‘. Diso comes from Old Gujarati ‘disi’, meaning ‘day’ and is commonly used to signify the Roj of death of a person. Thus, Zarthosht no Diso marks the day that Asho Zarathushtra passed away from earth.

But how did Zarathushtra die? Many of us have heard the story: Zarathushtra was 77 years old and praying in a Fire Temple, when he was stabbed by an evil sorcerer named Turbaratur. As the Prophet fell, He hurled the Tasbih (rosary, prayer beads) which was in His hands on the murderer. As the Tasbih fell on Turbaratur, he too perished.

However, this quaint little story is not to be taken literally. It has a deeper significance and symbolism.

To know more, click on the link below:

Please View the Video here:


May the Asho Farohar of Vakshure Vakshuran Asho Spitaman Zarathushtra shower His blessings on our troubled community on this day of great spiritual remembrance!Silloo Mehta


Sam Billimoria in America’s Who’s Who

Sam Billimoria is on page 99 of Who’s Who in America in 2023 as a distinguished listee.
There are distinguished listees, elite listees, and lastly listees.A very large part is due to “Zoroastrian Legacy” which was very unique to the publishers.

They had never seen that influence on America, and not surprisingly never ever heard of Zoroastrianism, till Sam gave them a “basic” lesson.

They were taken aback as to how can Iran be the bedrock of pioneering Freedom, but finally were convinced after he showed them the congressman’s proclamation.

NAMC Institute of Zoroastrian Studies – Young Mobed Training

          NAMC Institute of Zoroastrian Studies
                         Young Mobed Training
             Saturday, July 29 – Sunday, July 30, 2023
Pre-requisite:  Course designed  for initiated Mobeds under the age of 30
         Class size: 10 students (on a first-come, first-served basis)              


We are excited to announce our upcoming Young Mobed Training.

This is an in-person course by NAMC at the Zoroastrian Association of Houston,

8787 W Airport Blvd., Houston, TX 77071.

NAMC will arrange lodging and boarding while in Houston and compensate reasonable travel costs for out-of-town students.

We urge young mobeds to take advantage of this unique opportunity to learn and to meet and network with other young mobeds.

If interested, please email our President,  Ervad Tehemton Mirza at:

Associations and Organizations:Please forward this announcement, including the attachment, to all your members.Thank you.

UNESCO-designated Zoroastrian Temple

Tourism minister visits UNESCO-designated temple, calls for more investment

TEHRAN – On Thursday, the Iranian tourism minister paid a visit to Takht-e Soleyman, which was once a principal fire temple of the Zoroastrian faith in ancient Persia.

Ezzatollah Zarghami called for more investment in tourism infrastructure of the UNESCO-registered site, saying: “We are currently looking for an investor to complete its [tourism] infrastructure in the Ministry of Cultural Heritage, Tourism and Handicrafts.”

Situated in Takab county of West Azarbaijan province, Takht-e Soleyman is now an atmospheric destination for domestic and foreign sightseers.

“This complex is unique in its kind… Being subject to many excavations, its lake has a depth of more than 100 meters,” the minister said.

The minister said more investment may be made to help preserve that ancestral heritage, adding: “By strengthening tangible heritage, we seek to promote the intangible heritage as both are appreciated…”

“The present and future generations should get to know the identity of their ancestors,” Zarghami explained.

Overlooking a lake with a backdrop of a snowcapped highland, the ancient interweaves a scenic natural context with a rich harmonious composition. It reveals architectural achievements of outstanding universal values, which from artistic, religious, mythical, and historical points of view, emerge from the synergy of a man-made and spectacular natural setting.

They established the ensemble in a geologically anomalous location where the base of the temple complex sits on an oval mound roughly 350 by 550 meters. It encompasses a lake roughly 80 by 120 meters and a Sassanid-era Zoroastrian temple complex dedicated to Anahita, an ancient goddess of fertility, parts of which were rebuilt in the 13th century during the Ilkhanid era.

They say Takht-e Soleyman’s name isn’t based on real historical links to the Old Testament King Solomon but was a cunning 7th-century invention by the temple’s Persian guardians in the face of the Arab invasion.

In the 13th century, Takht-e Soleyman became a summer retreat for the Mongol Ilkhanid khans. The remnants of their hunting palace are now covered with a discordant modern roof forming a storeroom (often locked) for amphorae, unlabelled column fragments, photos, and a couple of ceramic sections of those ancient gas pipes.

According to Britannica Encyclopedia, its surrounding landscape was probably first inhabited sometime in the 1st millennium BC. Some construction on the mound itself dates from the early Achaemenian dynasty (559–330 BC), and there are traces of settlement activity from the Parthian period.


Sassanid inscription bearing prayer for mental health discovered in southern Iran

TEHRAN – A team of cultural heritage experts have found a rack-carved Sassanid inscription that bears prayer for mental health.

The inscription is suffered due to rain, sunlight, and other natural elements for some 1,600 years, was found in the treasured site of Naqsh-e Rostam, southern Iran, ILNA reported on Tuesday.

According to Iranian linguist and historian Abolhassan Atabaki, the inscription dates from the late Sassanid period (224 CE–651) and shows part of the views and thoughts of the people of that time, the report said.

This inscription is inscribed in two lines, and it depicts a plea for mental health for holy people, Atabaki said.

Sassanid inscription bearing prayer for mental health discovered in southern Iran

Due to the type of sedimentary limestones and heavy rains for about 1600 years, harmful erosion has occurred on the stones of this place, so that the first line of this inscription is turned darker than nearby sedimentary rocks, he explained.

“Nevertheless, we tried to read this stone inscription, which has practically lost some of its letters and words.”

Sassanid inscription bearing prayer for mental health discovered in southern Iran

This inscription is a commemorative or prayer inscription written by a Zoroastrian follower, he said.

Another expert, Najmeh Ebrahimi, says: “Due to excessive erosion of the first line of the stone inscription, the distinction between words and letters is not very clear, so we processed the words of this line with speculation.”

The inscription reads: “The glory of creation… May the soul of a pious person be healthy.|

A must-see tourist destination

Massive rock–hewn tombs and bas-relief carvings at Naqsh-e Rostam have turned the ancient site into a must-see for holidaymakers traversing the Marvdash plain. The Achaemenid necropolis is situated near Persepolis, itself a bustling UNESCO World Heritage site near the southern city of Shiraz.

Naqsh-e Rostam, meaning “Picture of Rostam” is named after a mythical Iranian hero which is most celebrated in Shahnameh and Persian mythology. Back in time, natives of the region had erroneously supposed that the carvings below the tombs represent depictions of the mythical hero.

One of the wonders of the ancient world, Naqsh-e Rostam embraces four tombs where Persian Achaemenid kings are laid to rest, believed to be those of Darius II, Artaxerxes I, Darius I, and Xerxes I (from left to right facing the cliff), although some historians are still debating this.

There are gorgeous bas-relief carvings above the tomb chambers that are similar to those at Persepolis, with the kings standing on thrones supported by figures representing the subject nations below. There are also two similar graves situated on the premises of Persepolis probably belonging to Artaxerxes II and Artaxerxes III.

Beneath the funerary chambers are dotted with seven Sassanian bas-reliefs cut into the cliff depict vivid scenes of imperial conquests and royal ceremonies; signboards below each relief give a detailed description in English.

At the foot of Naqsh-e Rostam, in the direction of the cliff face, stands a square building known as Ka’beh-ye Zardusht, meaning Kaaba of Zoroaster. The building, which is roughly 12 meters high and 7 meters square, probably was constructed in the first half of the 6th century BC, although it bears a variety of inscriptions from later periods.

Though the Ka’beh-ye Zardusht is of great linguistic interest, its original purpose is not clear. It may have been a tomb for Achaemenian royalty or some sort of altar, perhaps to the goddess Anahiti, also called Anahita believed to be associated with royalty, war and fertility.

A general renaissance

The Sassanid era is of very high significance in Iranian history, under which Persian art, and architecture experienced a general renaissance.

Architecture often took grandiose proportions such as palaces at Ctesiphon, Firuzabad, and Sarvestan which are amongst the highlights of the ensemble.

Crafts such as metalwork and gem engraving grew highly sophisticated, yet scholarship was encouraged by the state. In those years, works from both the East and West were translated into Pahlavi, the language of the Sassanians.

Rock-carved sculptures and bas-reliefs on abrupt limestone cliffs are widely deemed as characteristics and striking relics of Sassanian art, top examples of which can be traced at Bishapur, Naqsh-e Rostam and Naqsh-e Rajab in southern Iran.

Installation of Godrej Baug Agiary – 1999

Courtesy : Homyar Mistry, BPP, Ronnie F Patel



First hand experience related by Firdosh Khurshed Tolat:



20th December 1999

My Dear Parsi brethren,


I would like to share with you an exciting event in Parsi History, which I have just witnessed.


Some of you may be aware that a new Agiyari – Shapoorji Fakirji Jokhi Agiyari – is being started at the Godrej Baug.  The enthronement of the Holy Fire will take place in the early hours of Tuesday 21 December 1999.


The Holy Fire (originally of Tavri, near Navsari) – accompanied by a busload of Godrej Baug residents and a cavalcade of other Zarthostis in private cars – was brought from the Sir J.J. Agiyari, Navsari to the Dasturji Kookadaru Dare-e-Meher, Sanjan in the wee hours of Sunday the 19th.  All the five Bui ceremonies were performed during the day in Sanjan.


The Fire left Sanjan on Monday the 20th, after midnight and arrived on the outskirts of Mumbai at 4:30 a.m.  The entire convoy was escorted by Mumbai police.


I was fortunate to witness and be a part of this exciting event, in the final stage from Worli to Modi Sorabji Vatchha Gandhi Dar-e-Meher (also known as Vatchha Gandhi Agiyari), where the Fire arrived at 5:15 a.m.


The urn containing the Ātash was brought out from the Tata Sumo jeep, accompanied by five Mobeds, chanting the Maathravaani prayers.  Since one cannot shift the Ātash without grounding, special chains were attached to the vehicle, to maintain contact with the ground, throughout the two journeys.


The silence of the morning was broken by loud recitation of prayers by the gathered devotees.  It was a magical moment, enveloped in an aura of mysticism mixed with religious fervour, when one caught a glimpse of smoke emanating from the urn and the air filled with scent of burning sandalwood.


The Ātash was carried into a special room of the Agiyari and transferred into an Afarganyu; we saw the Holy Fire as bright embers, awaiting to be transferred into bright flames.  Four priests recited the Ātash Nyāyesh, offered sandalwood and as the brilliance lit up the darkened hall, we were witness to a new page being written in the history of our Religion in Mumbai.


The Holy Fire will be transferred from Vatchha Gandhi Agiyari, tonight (Tuesday the 21st at 3:30 a.m.).  The ceremonial procession will leave the Agiyari, walk down Hughes Road upto Ardeshir Godrej Chowk (Kemps Corner), turn up the road leading to Hanging Gardens, enter Ambawadi and then into Godrej Baug.  Arrangements have been made to turn off the streetlights during the procession.  A water taker will wash the entire route upto Ambawadi.  Thereafter, barrels of water have been arranged to wash the path before the Fire can be taken over it.


The Ātash Padshah will be finally enthroned in the Kebla room of the Shapoorji Fakirji Jokhi Agiyari, Godrej Baug and the first Bui ceremony performed at dawn, around 6:00 a.m.


The entire operation of shifting the Tavri nā Ātash from Sir J.J. Agiyari, Navsari, to  Shapoorji Fakirji Jokhi Agiyari, Godrej Baug, Mumbai, is being steered and guided by Ervad Aspandiyar Dadachanji – Panthaky Saheb of the Vatchha Gandhi Agiyari.  An erudite scholar, Aspandiyarji is an authority on our Zarthushti rituals and ceremonies.




21st  December 1999


Yet another historical chapter was written today morning, when the Holy Fire of Tavri, brought from the Sir J.J. Agiyari, Navsari, was enthroned at the new Shapoorji Fakirji Jokhi Agiyari, Godrej Baug.


The Ātash was originally brought from the Sir J.J. Agiyari, Navsari, to the Vatchha Gandhi Agiyari, Bombay, on Monday the 20th at 5:15 a.m., after a day’s halt at the Dasturji Kookadaru Dare-e-Meher, Sanjan.  All the five Bui ceremonies were performed during the day at the Vatchha Gandhi Agiyari.


A large crowd of countless Zoroastrians had gathered at the Agiyari in the wee hours of Tuesday 21 December 1999, long before the appointed hour of 3:40 a.m.  The process of shifting the Ātash started at 3:15 a.m., when a group of Mobeds circled the Afarganyu and the Ātash Nyāyesh was recited aloud by the priests, accompanied by the devotees in the hall.


After the prayers, Ervad Aspandiyar Dadachanji shifted the burning embers into the same urn, in which was Ātash was brought from Navsari.  Other priests took up their positions with the various liturgical instruments.


Three in the front, each carried a nine knotted stick, with a nail at the end.  This is to draw a Pāvi in the ground when leading the Ātash.  A Pāvi means a furrow, which preserves the sacredness of the consecrated things or of the sacred ceremonies.  Some others carried spears and shields, while two carried swords.  This was followed by three Mobeds each with a Gurz or Mace.  All of these signify that the bearer is a Zarathushti Soldier and undertakes to fight against all Evil – moral and physical.


Two Mobeds carried the special urn, while four of them covered it with a cloth canopy, held at hand level.  All four corners of this group of six were surrounded by Mobeds, who held cloth bands providing a moving Paavi for the sacred Fire.


The congregation left the Agiyari at 3:40 a.m., followed by a sea of Zoroastrian humanity – all in white – all chanting the “Yatha Ahu Vairyo” prayer, exhorted by BPP Trustee Rustom Tirandaz.  The ceremonial procession walked up Hughes Road, U-turned at the road leading to Hanging Gardens and entered Godrej Baug through Ambawadi (near Spenta Apartments).  The entire route from the Vatchha Gandhi Agiyari to the Shapoorji Fakirji Jokhi Agiyari was freshly washed with water from a tanker, driven by a Parsi gentleman.  Sand Pāvis were made by volunteers all along the way.


The congregation started reaching Godrej Baug by 4:14 a.m., where jubilant residents of the colony had gathered to maintain vigil through the night.


The Ātash was finally carried into the Kebla (the Sanctum Sanctorum) and placed in the Afarganyu, positioned on a large slab of stone.  The ceremony of enthroning the Sacred Fire was completed by recitation of Aafringans and other prayers, which we could not witness, due to the surge of humanity at the steps of the new Agiyari.  The Jokhi family graced the occasion and the crowd lustily applauded them when they entered the grand portals.


Today, we were participants and witnessed a historical event of our Religion as well as lives.  May the Sacred Fire keep burning bright in our hearts to keep alive this Great Religion of Lord Zarathushtra.




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