While vacationing in Dahanu a couple of years back, and driving back to Gujarat from the Maharashtra state. I saw fisher women selling promfrets, pronounced locally as pamplets on the roadside. Dahanu is a coastal town and a municipal council in Palghar district in the state of Maharashtra, India. It is located 110 km from Mumbai city.
They had freezers in their lovely home to store their catch. However the fresh fish would be sold within 2 hours and if you wanted any pamplet or prawns you better rush there in the morning.
These fishermen and fisher women live along the coast line of Dahanu with their houses on the beaches. Living a simple life they make a living catching the ocean bounty. I talked with the mother and father whose son was coming to USA to study. Now that’s progress !
Patra ni Maachi chutney is very easy to make. With fresh cilantro, lemon juice and other ingredients. The same chutney can be used to make chutney sandwiches at a later time.
Banana leaves are found in US in many Indian, Korean and Chinese Stores. The word “Patra” literally means “Leaf” in gujarati. “Maachi” means “Fish”. So do not be intimidated by the strange words, translated, the dish is Fish wrapped in Banana Leaf with delicious Chutney.
I have found pamplets in US in HMarts, called by a different name – plammuro. These are a bit yellow and not as white as found in India. They do have the same look, taste, texture and feel.
Some wiki facts:
|Atlantic pomfret, Brama brama|
Pomfrets are perciform fishes belonging to the family Bramidae. The family includes about 20 species.
They are found in the Atlantic, Indian, and Pacific Oceans, and the largest species, the Atlantic pomfret, Brama brama, grows up to 1 m (3.3 ft) long. Fish meat is white in color.
Several species are important food sources for humans, especially Brama brama in the South Asia. The earlier form of the pomfret’s name was pamflet, a word which probably ultimately comes from Portuguese pampo, referring to various fish such as the blue butterfish (Stromateus fiatola). This fish also called as ‘Maanji’ (ಮಾಂಜಿ) in Tulu and paplet in Urdu, Marathi and Nawayathi.
- Several species of butterfishes in the genus Pampus are also known as “pomfrets”.
- Some species of pomfrets are also known as monchong, specifically in Hawaiian cuisine.
- Above referenced from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
I found a substitute fish here in the US called “Palmunaro” in H-MART. They are similar to pamplet from India.
|Recipe for Patra ni Maachi with Leeli Chutney.
Grind together for chutney:
[amazon_link asins=’1496075293′ template=’ProductCarousel’ store=’1447-5689-3485′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’b07e3e78-6b27-11e8-91de-393a0bc4b9c2′]
VIDEO : https://youtu.be/8ymliZBw7QU
Indians love tea, they are crazy about it – and they even have a special word for it – chai.
India is one of the largest tea growers in the world. Tea is grown in the north and the south – in exotic places like Munnar in Kerala, Darjeeling, Assam, and Nilgiri Mountains. The tea gardens are a sight to see. Beautiful terraces are carved into the earth and from far they look like manicured gardens. Tea from Darjeeling and Assam is world famous for its aroma and taste.
Tea was introduced in India by the British during early 1900’s, those were early days of the British Raj. Large swaths of land were converted for mass tea-production. Ironically, the British introduced tea in India to break the Chinese monopoly. Tea was originally consumed by the westernized Indians, but it became widely popular over time. Today, looking at the popularity of tea one cannot tell of its origins from China.
But the story of story of tea in India goes beyond the tea gardens in exotic mountains and valleys, covered with mist and lush greenery. Tea is woven intricately into the Indian social fabric.
Chai is the common equalizer in India – from the rich to the poor. No matter what their position in life, an Indian relishes a cup of tea. The rich ones have their tea served in fancy tea-pots, delicate porcelain cups on well laid out tables with cookies and pastries. The not-so-affluent have it in more humble settings. But the joy and satisfaction is the same.
No matter where you go in India, even the remote village, you are likely to find a tea-stall, with a Chai-walla brewing the concoction, squeezing every last flavor. There is always a crowd of eager and tired folks waiting patiently for their chai. Tea re-vitalizes your body. It is a great anti-oxidant.
India has one of the largest railway networks in the world. Every train station has tea-stalls. Hawkers carry tea-buckets doling out hot cups to weary travelers as the trains pull into the train stations. One of my enduring memories growing up in India is traveling on the train in the sleeper-coach and waking up to the lilting calls of the tea-hawkers.
There are many stories of how tea brings people together. When you visit friends – tea and snacks are probably the most common offering. A cup of tea bonds friendships and heals differences. A guest rejecting an offer of a cup of tea may even hurt their feelings. The ultimate bonding is sharing a cup of tea – between two people – albeit in different saucers. When you visit a commercial establishment, as a sign of respect for the customer, tea is offered. Read more in my cookbook for Tea.
Recently, I was invited to speak and present “The Place of Tea in Indian Culture and the Kerala Tea Gardens” at the Boston Athenaeum. Here is a short synopsis. I am delighted that my Cookbooks were displayed and showcased in the museum! Thanks Hannah Weisman! Hannah is the Director of Education at Boston Athenaeum.
The museum is a historical place and encourages historical books. The Boston Athenaeum is steeped in history. Founded in 1807, the Boston Athenæum is one of the oldest and most distinguished independent libraries and cultural institutions in the United States.
Tea / Chai Recipes:
Old favourite – still awesome
K Rustom Ice Cream has been around for several decades and it still remains fabulous. Prices are extremely reasonable and the outlet is very popular even quite late at night. Don’t miss the sandwich ice cream which comes in many flavours
Amazingly delicious ice cream sandwich. Get one of these and go people watch on the board walk. A Perfect rest stop when you are walking around Mumbai. We heard about this from a local and was told we cant go wrong with any flavor!
Location and contact
K. Rustom Ice Cream Menu for your ready reference.
87 Veer Nariman Road Stadium House, Mumbai 400020
IndiaMarine Drive 1.0 miles from Gateway of India
Phone: +91 22 2282 1768
This fish shaped dessert is very popular among the Indian Parsi community. It is molded in the shape of a fish because the fish is a symbol for fertility and good luck. It can be sliced and eaten as dessert.
Storage Instructions: Can be kept outside for 2 or 3 days, refrigerated for a couple of weeks, or frozen for much longer.
Combine all of above in a large mixing bowl. You may need to work the mixture with your hands to ensure that it is well mixed. I took a non-stick pan and heated up these, but be careful the mix does not burn. Use very low heat.
To prevent the mixture from drying as you work with it, rub hands with a light coating of vegetable shortening. Wrap tightly in plastic until ready for use.
Line mold with shortening.
Press the marzipan into mold and let it set overnight.
Unmold and serve.
For India customers, please go to Amazon.in and search.
Example – https://www.amazon.in/Generic-Shape-Chocolate-Jelly-Sugarcraft/dp/B082Q1QL48
BOSTON–Here is a list of Indian restaurants in Massachusetts.
We are taking in reviews. See them below along with the restaurant menus: (Do check again for new reviews and list updates)
If you have a experience – Please send us the review with following: Name of the restaurant, address, phone number and website address.
Address: 5 Nagog Park, Acton, MA 01720; Tel: (978) 274-2323
Mayuri was a wonderful experience, we had the Carlisle Diwali Party of over 50 people and kids here. The food was awesome with huge variety of appetisers, including masala dosa, main entre including indian tikka masala and several delicious desserts. Set in a large function room, it was a great diwali event. Read the review in our local newspaper –
Carlisle Diwali Celebrations
Address: 109 Brighton Ave., Allston; Tel: 617-254-1500
Address: 87 Main St, Amherst, MA 01002; Tel: (413) 256-1067
Address: 485 Massachusetts Ave., Arlington; Tel: 781-643-0943
Address: 444 Massachusetts Ave, Arlington, MA 02474; Tel: (781) 648-9500
Address: 20 North Rd, Bedford, MA; Tel: (781) 538-5906
Address: 347 Great Road, Bedford, MA; Tel: (781) 538-6136
Address: 63 Concord Ave, Belmont, MA 02478; Tel: (617) 484-7111
Address:258 Rantoul St, Beverly, MA 01905; Tel: (978) 232-9009
Address: 1 Faneuil Hall Sq, Boston, MA 02109; Tel: (617) 557-9300
Address: 484 Commonwealth Ave., Fenway/Kenmore; Tel: 617-267-4499
Address: 1095 Commonwealth Avenue, Boston, MA 02215; Tel: 617-787-9700
Address: 279 Newbury St., Boston, MA 02116; Tel: (617) 536-1695
Address:329 Sumner St., East Boston; Tel: 617-567-1900
Address: 578 Tremont St., South End, 617-859-4805
Address: 251 Massachusetts Ave, Boston, MA 02115; Tel: (857) 350-4305
ADDRESS: 157 Sutherland Rd, Boston, MA 02135; Tel: (617) 487-8941
Address: 1335 Beacon St, Brookline, MA 02446; Tel: (617) 734-3971
Address: 184 Cambridge St., Burlington, MA 01803; Tel: (781) 273-0111
Address: 207 Cambridge St, Burlington, MA; Tel: (781) 229-8349
Address: 571 Massachusetts Ave, Cambridge, MA 02139; Tel: (617) 868-3672
Address: 17 Central Sq., Cambridge; Tel: 617-547-7463
Address: 1680 Massachusetts Ave, Cambridge, MA 02138; Tel: (617) 441-5566
Address: 1900 Massachusetts Ave., Porter Square, Cambridge; Tel: 617-497-6113
Address: 225 Hampshire St., Cambridge; Tel: 617-547-8272
Address: 114 Magazine St., Cambridge; Tel: 617-945-5489
Address: 18 Eliot Street, Cambridge, MA 02138; Tel: (617) 868 1900
Address: 57 John F. Kennedy Street, Cambridge, MA; Tel: (617) 547-2757
Address: 313 Littleton Rd, Chelmsford, MA – 01824; Tel: (978) 770-2777
Address: 7 Summer Street, Chelmsford, MA; Tel: (978) 330-5133
Address: 83 Parkhurst Rd #5, Chelmsford, MA 01824; Tel: (978) 446-0189
Address: 387 State Rd, Dartmouth, MA 02747; Tel: (508) 999-0070
Address: 1111 Dorchester Ave., Dorchester; Tel: 617-929-3900
Address: 2 Washington St, Foxborough, MA 02035; Tel: (508) 668-2000
Address: 700 Worcester Rd Suite #1, Framingham, MA 01702; Tel: (508) 743-7755
Address: 418 W Central St, Franklin, MA 02038; Tel: (508) 520-2900
Address: 3706 Washington St., Jamaica Plain: Tel: 617-942-2966
Address: 1666 Massachusetts Ave, Lexington, MA 02420; Tel: (781) 674-2990
Address: 7 Meriam St, Lexington, MA 02420; Tel: (781) 861-7350
Address: 501 Constitution Ave, Littleton, MA 01460; Tel: (978) 800 – 0059
Address: 1689 Middlesex St, Lowell, MA 01851; Tel: (978) 677-7181
Address: 1270 Westford St (Drumhill Rd) Lowell, MA; Tel: (978) 454-7777.
This was a wonderful experience, we had the Carlisle Diwali Party of over 50 people and kids here. The vegetarian food was tasty and delicately prepared. Good function room with audio and TV. Read the review in our local newspaper –
Carlisle Diwali Celebrations
Address: 308 Main St, Malden, MA 02148: Tel: 781-388-2448
Address: 197H Boston Post Rd W, Marlborough, MA 01752; Tel: (508) 357-6551
Address: 195 W Central St, Natick, MA 01760; Tel: (508) 653-8898
Address: 990 Great Plain Avenue, Needham, MA; (781) 449-4050
Address: 81 Union St M, Newton Centre, MA 02459; Tel: (617) 916-2977
Address: 350 Winthrop Avenue, North Andover Plaza (Route 114) North Andover, MA, 01845; Tel: (978) 689 – 7800
Address: 1 Roundhouse Plz (52 Crafts Avenue), Suite 4, Northampton, MA 01060; Tel (413)-341-3537
Address: 45 State Street, Northampton, MA; Tel: 413-586-6344
Address: 8110 shops way, Northborough, MA; Tel: (508) 393-3434
Address: 500 Boston Providence Hwy, Norwood, MA 02062; Tel: (781) 551-9797
Address: 1237 Hancock St, Quincy, MA 02169; Tel: (617) 786-1010
Address: 157 Washington St., Salem; Tel: 978-832-2200
Address: 5 Post Office Square, Sharon, MA 02067; Tel: (781) 784-2300
Address: 97 Boston Tpke, Shrewsbury, MA 01545; Tel: 508-793-9888
Address: 378 Maple Ave., Shrewsbury, MA. Tel: (508) 459-5099
Address: 40 Bow St., Union Square, Somerville; Tel: 617-623-9068
Address: 719 Broadway Somerville, MA 02144; Tel: 617-764-2947
Address: 1688 Main St., Springfield, MA 01103; Tel: 413-732-1453
Address: 1921 Main St, Tewksbury, MA 01876; Tel: (978) 677-6775
Address: 6 Central St, Stoneham, MA 02180; Tel: (781) 438-8200
Address: 103 Boston Post Rd, Sudbury, MA 01776; (978) 261-5790
Address: 33 Tuttle St, Wakefield, MA 01880; Tel: (781) 587-2123
Address: 475 Moody St, Waltham, MA 02453; Tel: (781) 894-8755
Address: 312 Washington St, Wellesley Hills, MA 02481; Tel: (781) 235-1666
Address: 291 Turnpike Road, Westborough, MA; Tel: 508-366-0090
Address: 30 Lyman Street. Westborough, MA; Tel: (508) 898-1888
Address: 8 Cornerstone Square, Westford, MA 01886; Tel: (978) 692-8130
Address: 1735 Centre St., West Roxbury, Tel: 617-325-3500
Address: 312 Bridge St, Weymouth, MA 02191; Tel: (781) 803-2521
Address: 9 Cummings Park Drive, Woburn, MA; Tel: (781) 935-6060
Address: 442 Main St, Woburn, MA 01801; Tel: (781) 933-9090
There are many Irani Bakeries in Mumbai, India. You must have heard of the Kayani Bakery, but have you heard of the Yazdani Bakery?
Yazdani Bakery is an Irani cafe or Persian style bakery in Mumbai, India.
The bakery was opened in 1953 by Meherwan Zend, an Irani baker. All products in the bakery are handmade, and baked in diesel ovens. The bakery draws a lot of visitors, particularly international visitors especially Germans. The building, built in the early 20th century, was originally a Japanese bank, which was later sold off. On 11 December 2007, the bakery was felicitated by Maharashtra governor SM Krishna the Urban Heritage & Citizens Award.
Old-school bakery/cafe offering Persian breads, baked treats & chai in simple, colorful surrounds.
Address: 11, 11A, Cawasji Patel Rd, Kala Ghoda, Fort, Mumbai, Maharashtra 400001, India
The Story Behind One Of Mumbai’s Oldest Standing Eatery That Belongs To A Yazidi Family: Yazdani Restaurant & Bakery.
Parvez Irani could be any old man sitting on the counter of a restaurant collecting cash. He’s so much trained in his trade that the best of corporate employees could be put to shame with his no-nonsense demeanour and a poker face determined to get work done well. He can be quite intimidating at first, but it’s his eyes that say a different story. Literally, a different story, because his eyes have a sharp hint of grey in them, a trait of the Yazidi community from the West Asia.
Someone once told me that Parsi and Irani bakeries are different, and asked Parvez the same to clear my doubt. Parvez immediately rubbished it and said, “The only difference between us is that the Parsis came 1200 years ago and we came about a hundred. But we’re the same people and every ritual and practice we follow is exactly the same,” he shares with us.
Travelling through the time
Entering Yazdani bakery is like stepping into a time warp. You’re immediately transported into what would look like the 1950s, exactly when the bakery was established. The narrow lane near the Horniman Circle, Fort was really busy on the Tuesday afternoon we visited.
The lane itself mirrors the good ol’ Bombay, but swanky Mercs and posh BMWs passing through the lane are major old-world-charm killers. The bakery, on the other hand, has a wall full of posters and advertisements from the yesteryears, with grandfather clocks hung on two walls. Even the menus displayed outside and inside are written with a chalk on a wooden blackboard.
Parvez tells us that when Babri Masjid was demolished, leading to riots in 1992 in Mumbai, Parvez recalls that Yazdani was the only open bakery in that area, providing food to those stranded and homeless.
“No police or politician made any attempt to come and shut us down. And this support from the people still stands with us,” he tells us proudly.
This is evident when we look around the place that is so sturdy and teeming with regulars and the frequent knells of ‘Bun-Maska-Chai” booming through the room.
Something old, Something new
The first Starbucks café in Mumbai had opened in Horniman circle’s fancy Elphinstone building in 2012, and lives up to the hype of its name – a comfortable, classy café with a perpetual coffee aroma for the company. It’s air conditioned, unlike Yazdani bakery which is barely fifty meters away from the international franchise outlet.
And yet, Yazdani has a large and loyal fan following. May be it’s the feeling of having time travelled into a classic Irani restaurant in Mumbai, or simply the dollops of maska in the bun-maska they offer, Yazdani is full of character – just like your favourite old book lying rugged on your shelf.
Parvez’s father had set up Yazdani Bakery & Restaurant in 1950, which Parvez joined in 1959. “People used to be so large hearted back then. My father used to give away food to the poor just like that,” Parvez gestures ‘giving away’ with his skinny, wrinkled hands. “Sometimes, people would not have enough money and even then my father would let it go. The Nehru government had hiked the rates of maida and there was not much of a scope for profit. But still, my father said that the difference of one naya paisa should go into the stomach of the customer and not our pockets. Since then it became a norm to give the leftovers to the poor. This, was until we could afford a new fridge,” Parvez laughs and points at one standing at the corner of the restaurant.
Parvez’s family has been into baking for a long time. He tells us that his ancestors were bakers in Iran and were bakers after they came to India. His grandfather had opened a bakery somewhere in Mumbai, where his grandmother used to make bread while his grandfather sold it. Yazdani was later set up in 1950 after his father decided to let go of a partnership business and set up his own.
British architecture under the blue sky
The structure of this bakery with its sky blue exterior and red painted roof stands alone among the elegantly carved British architecture on one side and neat commercial buildings on the other. And it’s surprisingly bigger on the inside – huge table to knead dough and large ovens to bake, and still, so much of room left that one could get their dance rehearsals done while the bread baked in the ovens. Yazdani bakery still uses an old style bread cutter, which is quite fascinating but efficient nonetheless. Stacks of hot dog buns are perhaps the only embellishment in the otherwise faded blue interiors and high vaulted ceiling above.
It looks like the Irani bakeries of Mumbai are living on borrowed time from three different generations. They serve the same dishes they did back then, and have people loving it, but are slowly being swamped by a different generation who loves polished wooden floors and a crowd that loves imitating an accent.
The speciality of the bakery – bread pudding usually gets only hours after it is made. So we sort of made ends meet with an egg puff, bun maska and chai. There’s a lot more they offer – the apple pie, carrot cake, fiery ginger biscuits and muffins – all of which almost get over by the end of the day. Parvez’s son Tirandaz may be slightly less perky than his father, but still, has an interesting perspective regarding the death of the Irani café culture in the city. “The new cafés that are taking over the city are very fancy and have more facilities, but I wish that old places like these are retained and managed well. Our coming generations are so much in awe of the westernised world that they will voluntarily not take over the family business or manage the bakery. I would still wish that this bakery went on forever,” he tells us.
Is the change good?
Places like the Yazdani bakery are rare. When nobody provided livelihoods to people, the bakeries and restaurants did. Less than a dozen people work in Yazdani, and have been for almost all their lives.
Irani bakeries and cafes may look ordinary from the outside and may seem mundane to those who are ignorant to the beauty of the antiquated, but always have something fun to tell. Right from the exteriors to the people who visit it, Yazdani takes you on a trip to a less polished, raw and ragged Mumbai – the one that told tales of its initiation, survival and how it still stands undeterred and moves on but still retains its glamour.
FRANCHISING PROVIDES AN ALTERNATIVE PATH FOR ARMAAN DIVECHA, FRESH BURGER’S ONLY MILLENNIAL FRANCHISEE
Before becoming the youngest Fresh Burger franchisee in the company’s history, Armaan Divecha was an unmotivated student, dragging his feet to his university classes.
“I took some courses and considered a few majors, but school wasn’t really motivating me,” Divecha says. “I was feeling as if I wasn’t being challenged enough.”
Though he ended up graduating with a General Arts Degree, the traditional career path – go to school, get a 9 to 5 job – didn’t leave the 23-year-old all that inspired. What did ignite his interest, however, was the idea of owning a franchise. A specialty restaurant known for serving high-quality beef burgers and French fries, Divecha had been a loyal Fresh Burger customer for years. “One day, I decided to speak with the Fresh Burger owner, and I said ‘listen, I see that you’re running a franchise. I want to be a part of that.’”
After putting in a significant number of work hours in as a Fresh Burger employee, he did just that, opening his Vaughan, Ontario franchise.
“When you own your own business it can get scary because you don’t always have the answers. Having a supportive franchise that can guide you, especially during the first year of business, was very helpful for me.”
Who’s In Your Corner?
Nothing could have prepared Divecha for his first day as a franchisee. From the moment the restaurant doors opened, he and his team served long lineups of customers for hours on end. “Despite our extensive training, the staff was overwhelmed,” he recalls.
When Divecha recalls those first few days, he notes having to juggle the franchise’s accounting, bookkeeping, and operations, along with navigating the ins and outs of managing an age-diverse workforce for the first time. “Half of them were over 50 and the other half of the staff were under 25, and I was trying to get them to respect me, but also try-ing to be their friend. It felt like I was walking a very fine line.”
It was walking a fine line, however, that made Divecha realize what the franchise business model is all about. Divecha now knows he can count on his franchisor and fellow franchisees to lend a helping hand. Because at the end of the day, starting a business is challenging enough, and without a strong network in place the venture can be even more difficult.
“We meet up quarterly, and all the Fresh Burger franchisees have exchanged emails so I can always get advice or discuss a new idea with them whenever I need too. They are always around,” he says. “When you own your own business it can get scary because you don’t always have the answers. Having a supportive franchise that can guide you, especially during the first year of business, was very helpful for me.”
Luckily for this young entrepreneur, he not only has support from the franchise team, but also from his father.
“I really had to get help from my dad because between family and friends and a restaurant, it was hard to find time for everybody and manage my own time. He showed me how to set up files and spread-sheets, and so much of the operational tasks I wasn’t familiar with. I was pretty fortunate to have someone, like him, guide me through it all,” he says.
And though, like most business owners, Divecha has had to go through his fair share of rough patches, having so many people – not just his franchise network and father – in his corner has made all the difference. “I didn’t expect as many people to be supportive as they were for me, but people are. Sometimes they say ‘I can’t believe you’re so young’ and then they get happy about it. I guess that’s the benefit of being a young owner.”
A Fresh Perspective
Millennials get a lot of flak for their social media use, but as a Fresh Burger franchisee Divecha has received nothing but praise. Most recently, he played a pivotal role in the launch of Fresh Burger’s successful Facebook ad campaign.
“When I discussed the idea of creating a social media campaign with the franchise, at first they were hesitant,”explains Divecha. Due to his young age, Divecha finds that sometimes people don’t take him seriously. But if there’sone lesson he’s learned over the years it’s this: as longas you present a well-founded idea, people will listen, no matter the age. It’s the strategy Divecha used to securehis bank loan application for his Fresh Burger investment.
And it’s the same tactic he used when he approached the franchisor about launching a Fresh Burger social media campaign. “I could see the direction that the industry was going because all my news feeds were brands being sponsored by ads,” says Divecha. “That’s why I helped get my franchise started with the market-ing campaign. I can say that it’s really helped the brand.”
To this day, Fresh Burger locations continue to receive an overwhelming amount of positive customer reviews, and much of that has to do with the digital advertising strategy Divecha proposed, and the buzzworthy ideas he continues to cook up. “I like to examine different quick-service restaurants and see what they are doing,
why they are doing well, the reasons they might not be doing well, the type of food they serve, the quality of the food, and how it impacts their business.”
For Divecha, putting research and time into the business is a top priority. “Some people who want to run a franchise do it so that they can let the business run itself but a franchise is only good as its operator.”
But even more important for this burger boss, is the opportunity to create an enjoyable work environment for his employees. Just a few months back, he took his entire team to a Raptors game to watch the debut of center Marc Gasol. “It was a nice moment because for many of the staff it was their first time attending a live basket-ball game. I like to help them out and do things that are special for them.”
Though Divecha’s relieved he is out of school, he never stops learning about ways he can take his restaurant to the next level.
Today’s afternoon Stum – Goan potato curry with basmati rice and kachumber – a lightly tossed onion, cucumber and carrot salad with coriander leaves; some pomegranate seeds, cow’s milk, a rose and freshly drawn well water… Bon apetit!
There is deep spiritual significance behind each of these offerings as they represent the Zoroastrian religion in different classes of creation. An item from either the plant or animal or mineral or vegetable kingdom must resonate or have the same Jiram – a measure of spiritual frequency as the Zoroastrian religion in order for it to be used in any ceremony.
That is why some plants, flowers, fruits or items are never used in our ceremonies despite having good health benefits.
It is also not correct to put any dead matter like meat or fish or fowl in the Stum. It must be remembered that the Stum is for the Ruvan of the person, not the person himself. Hence the personal likes or dislikes of the person when he was alive have no bearing on what is put in the Stum which is prayed for the benefit of his Ruvan.
Editor’s Note: Marzban started Frashogard – The Journal of Ilm-e-Khshnoom, a serious quarterly publication containing for the first time, scholarly level articles on the Zarathushtrian Mystical Revelation in simple, concise English. In order to spread the reach of this Journal even further, he has set up this website and blog.
Sandip Dighe | TNN | Updated: Jun 23, 2019, 0:4 ..
The bakery’s management issued a public notice to this effect …
Read more at:
Caveat emptor (/ˈɛmptɔːr/; from caveat, “may he beware”, a subjunctive form of cavēre, “to beware” + ēmptor, “buyer”) is Latin for “Let the buyer beware”. Generally, caveat emptor is the contract law principle that controls the sale of real property after the date of closing, but may also apply to sales of other goods.
The year 1981 saw the release of Manmohan Desai’s blockbuster Naseeb. While it is Amitabh Bachchan’s famous image of cage-fighting, Kim’s lip-reading talent and Hema Malini’s pink boa that make the film unforgettable for most, I will always associate the film with the beginning of a love affair with the mawa cake (click here for recipe). The cake that traveled from the streets of Bombay, through a cake fight in a five-star hotel kitchen, and was hand-delivered by an airline pilot to a casino in London, had to be a special one.
Mawa cakes, soft, buttery, cardamom-infused cupcakes rolled in wax paper, have been a menu staple at Irani cafés and bakeries from the time they opened in Bombay and Pune in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. A century later, Mumbai’s mawa cake still travels from the city’s Irani cafés to The Big Smoke (London) and is savoured by the likes of celebrated Parsi chef Cyrus Todiwala. “The B Merwan family bakes the best mawa cakes ever. In fact, we have three mini ones in our freezer right now,” says Todiwala.
B Merwan and Co. recently celebrated a century of serving patrons an affordable breakfast and delicious mawa cakes—and also announced that March 2014 would be the last time this would happen.
Just as the very first Irani café in India has never been identified with any certainty, the origins of the mawa cake too are shrouded in mystery. Dan Sheffield, a lecturer at the department of Near Eastern Studies at Princeton University, US, researched three old texts for references to the cake: the 17th century Gujarati Zartoshtnamu (The Book of Zarathustra), Persian-language Khulāsat al-Maʼkūlāt va’l-Mashrubat (The Essence of Edibles And Potables), and Parsi cookbook Vividh Vani, published in 1903. He says of Vividh Vani, “By this time Bombay Parsi cuisine had already been very Anglicized. The book, which is around 1,500 pages, has recipes for 57 varieties of cake ranging from coffee cake and cherry cake to things with exotic names like Cake Napoleon, Chantilly Cake, Cake Bakar Khani, etc., but still no mawa cake.” Zartoshtnamu and The Essence of Edibles And Potables too mention typical Indian desserts, but there is nothing on mawa cakes.
Irani cafés opened during an interesting time. On the one hand, the city’s elite preferred to dine at private clubs or at home, and on the other, the large number of itinerant male workers flooding the city, living away from their families and home cooking, created a market for inexpensive dining. Irani cafés like Kyani and Co., Ideal and B Merwan sold them hundreds of cups of tea every day; and with that, mawa cakes and khari biscuits.
Almost every Irani bakery in the country claims to have invented it. However, the café most inextricably linked with mawa cakes is Grant Road’s B Merwan.
Todiwala is convinced that the cake was a B Merwan brainchild: “In the early 1900s, our milk was not pasteurized, neither was refrigeration available. Milk had to be boiled over and over again to stop it from going off in our heat and humidity. This boiling created an automatic mawa and by the end of the day they would have a lot of it. The Irani owner experimented with it by adding it to a cake and created one of the most significant teatime cakes Bombay has ever known.”
There are other stories too.
The second spate of Irani Zoroastrians that fled from the Islamic Qajar regime were mainly bakers, sweet makers and café owners. It is believed that this is when the mawa cake inspiration came to Bombay, along with a host of other Irani delicacies. Parsi food specialist Katy’s Kitchen’s Kurush Dalal believes the mawa cake is an adaptation of the traditional Zoroastrian tea-cake kumas. “The Irani refugees were not very educated but knew how to bake. They modified their traditional kumas with local ingredients—khoya and cardamom—to make the mawa cake,” he says.
According to other stories, the mawa cake is a clever twist on the homely sponge cake. When Sheriar Irani’s grandfather started Pune’s first Irani bakery, the legendary Royal Bakery, he experimented with new flavours for a sponge cake until he hit upon the perfect recipe and called it the mawa cake. “The British soldiers stationed in the cantonment came to buy my grandfather’s cakes after their daily exercise. Even today we sell almost 70 kilos of mawa cake every day. But the recipe is a secret,” whispers Irani.
Whatever its origins, by the early 1920s the mawa cake had become a popular treat in Bombay—no longer extravagant, but within easy reach. It has not lost its appeal since.
As Irani cafés and bakeries fight to survive in a culinary landscape in which brun maska and chai is food at the margins, the mawa cake holds its own. Kamal Messman, who owns the modern bakery Theobroma, says she spent her childhood eating B Merwan’s mawa cakes. “That is what inspired me to make my own,” says Messman. “I sell several mawa cakes every day even now.”
When B Merwan closes its doors on 31 March, an era will end. But the mawa cake will most likely survive, because it is not often that the whiff of cake has the power to evoke memories of a lost time, that a cake is so much a piece of history.
Bring in the rain! Parsi Custom of bringing in rains by an community effort of collecting Rice, Dal and Ghee to make Khichri
You may have heard of the American Red Indian Dance for Rains, but have you heard of the Parsi Custom of bringing in rains by an community effort of collecting Rice, Dal and Ghee to make Khichri?
In Navsari (a small town in the Gujarat State of India) often referred to as the “Dharam Ni Tekdi” Parsis has many of the traditional customs and practices that have over time been forgotten in other cities and town. The Ghee Khichri ritual on Bahman Mahino and Bahman Roj is one of them. Boys go, asking for rice, dal, oil, ghee and other uncooked products. The ladies pour generous portions in the collection bags. The boys are also splashed with water, which the boys have to dodge carefully.
Later this uncooked food is gathered at one location and is cooked into a collective feast.The whole endeavor is to ask the rain gods to come and bestow Mother Earth with water, after the long summer months in India.
A folk song is heard from moholla to moholla in Navsari:
GHEEE KHICHRI NO PAISO
DORIYAA NO RUPIYO
VARSAADJI TOH AAYEGA
DUMRI SHER LAAYEGA
DUMRI TAARI OAT MAA KHARA PAANINET MAA
OTTI KE POTTI
REL AAVI MOTTI
ALLAA GOCAL PAANI MOKAL
VARSAADJI NU PAANI TOH MITTHU NE MITTHU
Another song in Gujarati song for welcoming rains after a hot summer:
“Aavre Aav Varsad,
Uunni uunni rotli,
ne karela nu shaak! “
“Come oh come rain,
Manna water from the heaven,
Enjoy with us, our warm rotli,
and karela vegetables “
Song and Music:
Thanks to ParsiKhabar.net for video
Ever eaten Parsi food? Probably not, because you won’t find it in L.A. or SoCal, unless you have Parsi friends who invite you to their homes.But now there is one restaurant where you can taste it: Woodlands in Artesia’s Little India. Annu Dangore, the owner, is Parsi and this year started serving Parsi food – not every day but once in a while. A few days ago, to celebrate Parsi New Year (Navroze), which is today, March 21, she packed the buffet with Parsi dishes.
To backtrack, Parsis are Zoroastrians who fled from Persia in search of religious freedom. They landed in Gujarat on the west coast of India and spread to Mumbai, where they established a small but prosperous community. Their cuisine incorporates elements of Persian, Gujarati, Maharastrian and British Raj cookery as well as dishes from Goa, which supplied well-to-do Parsis with cooks and other staff. This makes the food exceptionally rich and varied.
Parsi dishes you might taste at Woodlands include dhansak, which is meat in a complex sauce that blends lentils and vegetables. Commonly made with lamb in India, it was prepared with goat for the Navroze buffet. Also on the buffet was patra ni macchi, fish coated with green masala, wrapped in parchment (banana leaves in India) and steamed. Sali murghi, or chicken in a spicy brown sauce, was garnished with straw potatoes. Brown rice wasn’t the healthful grain we know but white rice cooked with enough caramelized sugar to make it brown but not sweet.
One of the most enchanting dishes was sev (fine vermicelli), cooked with spices and a dash of sugar and meant to be eaten with housemade sweetened yogurt. Others were Parsi-style chicken cutlets, rice pulaos and the baked custard spiced with nutmeg and cardamom that is a must at Parsi weddings.
Woodlands was closed for a couple of years due to a kitchen fire but re-opened last July and began to promote Parsi cuisine this January. Call first to find out when Parsi dishes are available, or else eat a full Parsi meal at home, catered by the restaurant. Parsi chefs aren’t easy to find, so Dangore takes charge of the food herself, working with her staff to get the flavors right.
HOW TO PERFECT THE IMPERFECT ART OF IRANIAN RICE TAHDIG
When I first moved out of my childhood home, only a week went by before I found myself craving my mother’s cooking. Specifically, I missed Persian rice with tahdig—the prized golden, crispy crust at the bottom of the rice pot.
Rice is the crown jewel of Persian cuisine, and Iranians have elevated its preparation to an art form. Whether we’re serving a simple saffron rice or one of the many variations in which it is mixed with other ingredients like meat or lentils, a cook’s reputation practically rests on their ability to turn out perfect, fluffy grains and an evenly crisped and bronzed layer.
For all its seeming simplicity, rice with tahdig takes a surprising amount of know-how. Ideally, each grain should remain separate and long when cooked, not sticky or compacted. To achieve this, we cook long-grain rice chelo-style: a two-step method of first par-cooking the rice in boiling water, then steaming it with the addition of fat at the bottom of the pan. It is the steaming step that simultaneously sets a crisp tahdig at the base and finishes cooking the rice grains.
If I had to name one essential tip or tool, using a nonstick, flat-bottomed pot aids critically in allowing the rice to release from the pan in a cohesive mass. Some recipes will even place an ingredient between the rice and the pan, such as a flat lavash bread or an embellishment of thinly sliced potatoes, which have the added benefit of preventing sticking (and providing another layer of flavor).
No one turns out a perfect tahdig every time, but it’s a thrill regardless. And with a little practice, patience, luck, and love, an almost-perfect one is certainly something to celebrate.
The Basic: Chelo ba Tahdig
Iranians usually serve chelo ba tahdig with stew, kebabs, or meat dishes. Herbs and alliums, feta, or walnuts often share the table. Get the recipe for Steamed Saffron Rice with Tahdig (Chelo ba Tahdig) »
Fragrant, steamed saffron rice—called chelo—is omnipresent at the Iranian table. Serve it alongside stews, kebabs, and other meat and vegetable dishes. Or use this recipe as a base for all of the more-elaborate variations that follow.
Choose a Quality Rice
The rice paddies of northern Iran are known for producing especially long, slender grains of rice with a sweet, grassy fragrance. Their grains tend to stay separate and intact during cooking. While Iranian rice is not always readily available in the U.S., a good-quality Indian basmati—such as Royal Chef’s Secret brand’s extra-long-grain rice or Basmati Lal Quila brand—is an excellent substitute.
Showstopping: Tahcheen-e Morgh
Bake this tahcheen, a saffron rice with chicken, in a clear glass baking dish so you can check on the crisping of the rice’s bottom layer. Get the recipe for Baked Saffron Yogurt Rice with Chicken (Tahcheen-e Morgh) »
The word tahcheen translates to “arranged on the bottom.” In this version, pieces of juicy saffron chicken are arranged between layers of a thick yogurt-and-egg rice. It adds a pleasant tanginess, and forms a tahdig that’s denser and less crunchy but just as satisfying. Tahcheen can be prepared in a pot on the stove, but I prefer to bake it in a glass dish so I can spy on the tahdig’s progress as it cooks.
Serve a Side of Herbs
Sabzi khordan—a platter of fresh herbs, alliums, and radishes—makes a regular appearance at the Persian table. The assortment brightens and lightens a meal, while also aiding in the digestion of rich main dishes. Nibble on it between bites of buttery rice.
A Meal in One: Sabzi Polo ba Tahdig-e Mahi
Have a fishmonger remove the branzino’s spine and ribs, to make the fish more malleable and prevent bones from sneaking into the rice. Get the recipe for Herbed Rice with Fish Tahdig (Sabzi Polo ba Tahdig-e Mahi) »
Polo is a word for mixed rice dishes that might be steamed with legumes and dried fruits (as in adas polo below), or complemented with herbs (sabzi polo), meat, vegetables, or, in this case, whole fish. Sabzi polo is served commonly for Nowruz, the Persian New Year. Traditionally, the fish is served alongside herbed rice—the fish symbolizes life, and the herbs symbolize rebirth.
“A cook’s reputation practically rests on their ability to turn out the perfect, fluffy grains and an evenly crisped and bronzed layer.”
With Bread Tahdig: Adas Polo
A thin layer of lavash bread can be cooked beneath the rice to serve as a tahdig. Press it flat against the pot for even cooking. Get the recipe for Persian Lentil Rice with Lavash Tahdig (Adas Polo) »
Adas polo means “lentil rice.” It is a humble, comforting mix that includes golden onions, lentils, and plump dried fruits such as raisins and dates—commonly used to balance the cuisine’s tart dishes with a touch of sweetness. You can serve adas polo with a dollop of plain yogurt, or, like me, with more dried fruit.
The highly sought-after Iranian crispy rice just takes a little patience, know-how, and luck
“A cook’s reputation practically rests on their ability to turn out the perfect, fluffy grains and an evenly crisped and bronzed layer.”
Naz’s Rice Tips
The traditional Iranian way to bring saffron to life
Bloom Your Saffron
The Iranian tradition is to bring a small amount of water to a boil, let it sit for a few minutes, then pour it over ground saffron to bring out its flavors and color. (Still-boiling water is said to kill the delicate spice’s “soul.”) Stir the mixture, cover it, and let it steep for 5 minutes. Then add the liquid and saffron particles to the dish as needed.
Soak the Rice
Soaking the rice in salted water softens it without activating the starch, allowing the grains to remain separate, intact, and fluffy in the finished dish. Some brands require a longer soak and take longer to soften in the initial boiling phase—part of the minutiae of Persian rice-making. Trial-and-error is the best method: Familiarize yourself with the brand of rice available to you, and start with 1 hour of soaking on average.
Know Your Pot and Stove
The “art” of tahdig-making comes into play here. No two tahdigs will ever turn out the same. But to get as close to consistent as possible, start with a heavy-duty nonstick pot with a flat bottom and straight sides. Take notes each time you make a tahdig, cross your fingers, and be confident in your flip. Beyond that, just hope that luck is with you.
A Floral Finish
The use of roses—petals and waters flavored with them—is common in Persian and Middle Eastern kitchens. Naz sprinkles the petals atop this tart, cooling yogurt sauce she serves with crispy rice dishes, and often with stews and meats. Get the recipe for Yogurt Cucumber Sauce with Rose Petals (Maast-o Khiar) »
‘Granny Sathe Jamwanu’ is a Parsi feast not to be missed. Recipes are linked complements of this ParsiCuisine.com site.
Of the five ladies, 93-year-old Perin B Dittia is the eldest. She is dressed in a blue sari, her pearl necklace has blue stones to match her sari and a white-dotted blue hair-band keeps her silky hair in place. Perin is more than excited to be a part of the celebrations. She loves to cook, loves to discuss recipes and equally loves to eat. “We are hearty eaters and eat a lot of non-veg food. The food for the fest is a collection of home recipes from us,” she says.
Talking about the women’s love for cooking, Perin says the ladies of the Parsi community or the Parsi Stree Mandal in Hyderabad used to have cooking classes for the people of the community.
“We used to conduct cooking classes and also invite others to come to our classes and teach different dishes. Finally, we put all the recipes together and brought out a cookbook. It is a collection of all the recipes that we tried in the cooking classes,” says Perin.
What is that one dish or ingredient that most Parsi food fests in hotels ignore? “Egg on potato or the Papeta par eda or tomato par eda (tomato on egg). These are layered dishes especially the tomato par eda,” says Zarin K Pestonji.
For Navroz, if you think Parsi women spend time slogging it out in the kitchen at home, you are mistaken. “Navroz is about celebrating with the community. So after our prayers, we usually go out or hangout with friends or most of us help the women in the kitchen. This is for those who decide to cook or invite guests for the feast at night. Otherwise, we all gather in our community hall for traditional food,” says Mahir Dittia, Perin’s grandson who’s also the assistant food and beverage manager at ITC Kohenur.
While these ladies might not be involved in the daily meal at home, when there is a party or a dinner, “We decide what goes into the menu, especially if Parsi food is being cooked. We love cooking and will not appreciate if any food with wrong taste goes to the plate of our guests,” says Khoty S Chenai.
It is the masalas that make Parsi food stand out from the rest, points out Perin. “We either make it at home ourselves or get it especially from Parsi shops in Mumbai. Our food isn’t oily and we like it a bit sweet and sour and no one makes better food than Perin,” chips in Zarin Pestonjee.
At the Kohenur kitchen, the ladies, including Perviz Bhote, who took turns to supervise the recipe processes and mixing of ingredients. Perin might walk with a bit of a hunch, but when she enters the kitchen, the chefs look as nervous as students in front of a strict teacher. “She is a patient teacher,” the chefs say. Finally, when the food was served it reflected the ‘magic touch of experts.’ The marga farch (crumb fried crispy chicken with bone) and patrani macchi were just the beginning of a fabulous meal.
Just before we proceeded to feast, Perin tells me, “Don’t ask a Parsi for Dhansak all the time. A plain dhansak is not made on auspicious occasions. It is made on the fourth day of a funeral.”
Article from TheHindu.com
Café MilitaryIf you plunge into the warren of bylanes in the bustling business district of Fort, you will come upon one of the few remaining Irani cafés – Café Military. This no-frills café is quaint, specialising in all manner of Parsi comestibles. The antique wooden panels and mirrors, round wooden clock, bentwood chairs and glass-topped tables don’t seem to have changed since it opened eighty years ago. The convivial owner, Mr Behram Khosravi tells me that the restaurant was opened in 1933 by his father, who came fresh off the boat from Iran. Under the cash counter, Mr Khosravi keeps a tatty old menu from 1935 – at that time, diners could choose from Delicious Tongue Dishes, Tasteful Liver Dishes, Light Meals Of Eggs and Cakes, Ices and Puddings, among others. Then, as now, the café was popular with bankers and lawyers although it attempted to cater to the army and navy (hence its name).Today, the café is famous mostly for its non-veg dishes – hearty chicken dhansak and kheema pao (a simple preparation of minced mutton, prepared without much gravy or spice). Tasty and non-greasy, I mop it up with plenty of soft, white pao. And to finish, the creamy, milky caramel custard.Where: Ali Chamber, N Master Road, GPO
Dhansak Masala (Spices for Dhansak)
Ignore the extras at this tiny Colaba eatery and go straight for the Weekly Menu. Paradise is the place to go for the best Salli Marghi outside of a Parsi kitchen; the chicken swimming in a mahogany gravy, rich with spice and served with a scattering of crunchy sali (finely-cut crisp fried potato) on top.
If you go on Tuesday, don’t forget to try the mutton curry and rice, prepared the Parsi way with poppy seeds, sesame seeds, gram and peanuts, roasted and ground together with curry masala. Oh, one of my favourite dishes – silky lamb, cooked with coconut milk and cashew nut.
Where: Sind Chambers, Causeway Road, Apollo Bandar, Colaba
(Parsi Mutton Cutlets)
The Internet today is thick with laments about the dwindling of the Irani café culture in Mumbai. But you wouldn’t believe it of Britannia, thick with crowds as it always is. Open only for lunch, it is most famous for its Indian-Irani hybrid dish, Beri Pulao – one mouthful of its fluffy rice tossed with chicken, onions and zereshk berries and you know you are right to believe the hype. But the Beri Pulao is just the foreplay to the main event, which in my opinion is its superb fried boomla (Bombay duck), made just the way my mum cooks it at home. Soft, succulent flesh nestling within a crisp, batter-fried shell – this dish must be eaten hot and fresh.
Where: Ballard Estate, Opp New Custom House
(Patrani Ni Machi)
Ratan Tata Institute
RTI outlets are scattered across Mumbai, but I especially love the one lurking within the leafy compound of Breach Candy’s Parsi General Hospital. It’s mostly peopled by friends and relatives of the ailing, whiling away the sultry, soupy afternoons with curry chawal and mutton pulao dal. At their feet lazes a gentle black dog, long-time resident of the hospital gardens and friend to all who enter.
On the RTI menu, continental dishes like pasta and baked cauliflower happily jostle with Parsi favourites such as dhansak. But it’s also a great place for a snack – its shelves are filled with a litany of snacks like bhakra (a crumbly, sweet bread to be eaten with tea), boozy rum balls, cheese straws and crunchy saria (sago wafers). My personal favourite though is the Chicken Pattice (the proper Parsi pronunciation) – melting chicken nestling in a buttery, crumbly flaky shell.
Where: Parsi General Hospital Compound, Hughes Road
Dadar Parsi Youth Assembly’s Snack Centre
Tucked away within Dadar Parsi Colony’s verdant lanes, its shelves are always brimming with mounds of sweet and savoury snacks – unctuous chicken and mutton cutlets that melt in the mouth; chutney egg (an egg, potato and greenchutney ball that has been deep-fried to a crisp); and chapat, a sweet, coconutty pancake that is eaten with a steaming cup of chai. Regulars though flock here for the dar ni pori, plump pastry filled with a sweetened dal mixture. It is prepared at home by Parsi aunties and sold at the centre for Rs. 30 each.
Where: Perviz Hall, Jame Jamshed Road, Parsi Colony, Dadar
By the Way
At Gamdevi lies a tiny restaurant, facing the busy road with determination. By The Way is run by the Seva Sadan charity for underprivileged women and widows, so everything you order comes with heaps of good karma. At By The Way, you will get a rainbow of food items, everything from burgers to kadhai paneer. Eschew it all and turn instead to the Parsi dishes. Go for the Patra Ni Macchi. Stay for the Tareli Macchi (fried fish), Mori Dar (moreish yellow dal) and Kaju Ni Marghi (chicken cooked with cashew nuts). Vegetarians should try the Lagan Nu Stew, a creamy stew made with diced vegetables and flavoured with vinegar, sugar and salt, leaving just the merest hint of sweetness and sour, on the tongue.
Where: Pandita Ramabai Road, Next To Gamdevi Police Station, Gamdevi
My favourite spot to stop by for Kheema Ghotala is a charming Irani café in Fort. Ideal’s Kheema Ghotala is not a particularly aesthetic dish but what it lacks in looks, it makes up for in taste. It literally translates to ‘a mess of mince’; it is actually a dish of minced mutton scrambled with egg and served with loaves of soft pao. But Ideal also serves up some delicious Khichdi Kheema Papad, a felicitous coupling of khichdi and spiced mincemeat; brain fry for the adventurous; and a decent bread pudding for sweet.
Where: Hornby View, Gunbow Street, Borabazar Precinct, Ballard Estate, Fort
The opinions expressed within this article are the personal opinions of the author. NDTV is not responsible for the accuracy, completeness, suitability, or validity of any information on this article. All information is provided on an as-is basis. The information, facts or opinions appearing in the article do not reflect the views of NDTV and NDTV does not assume any responsibility or liability for the same.
Lagan nu Achaar is a Pickle made from fresh carrots, ginger, garlic, raisins, apricots, spices, sugar, jaggery and balsamic vinegar. Sweet and Savory this pickle is a great condiment on the table.
The staircase leading upto the house
Can you spot the window which has delicious secrets hidden inside?The business started in a house in Garden East, nearly 50 years ago, and was founded by a Parsi lady named Cilly, who now lives in Texas. However, the bakery was moved to its current location thirteen years ago, when the owner sold the previous house. The house in Parsi Colony is owned by a sweet lady named Bakhtawar, who greets the visitors personally, and even takes the newbies through the variety of desserts that they serve, ensuring great customer service. Serving a range of desserts at surprisingly reasonable prices (some of which are as low as Rs.300 for a full cake), including plain cakes, butter icing cakes, and ice creams, Cillie’s was actually the first bakery in Karachi to introduce fresh cream cakes. Though their menu now has 16 different flavours of fresh cream cakes, their classic plain cakes remain hard to beat. The marble cake, especially, is soft and succulent, and serves as a perfect combination with evening tea.
Marble cakeWhile all desserts are entirely homemade, along with the mousses and creams used for the cakes, only a few delicacies are available for walk-in customers. All other orders need to be placed at least a day before. Since Cillie’s does not have a dedicated social media profile, their main source of publicizing the place remains word of mouth, along with the strong network of fans that Cillie’s has acquired over the years. In fact, the delicacies remain so popular amongst the Parsi Community that Naushad Mehta, Cilly’s son, has opened an outlet of Cillie’s Cakes in Houston, USA as well, and word has it that their products taste equally delicious.
Chocolate fudge, chocolate cream, and peach pineapple cakesKarachi may have witnessed the birth of numerous new and fancy cafes and bakeries in the last few years, but to say that the best flavours of the city are hidden in quiet corners like Cillie’s would not be an exaggeration. Cillie’s is a perfect representation of the strength of the Parsi community and how dedicatedly they have always served the people of Karachi. Though only a few Parsis remain in Karachi now, the community and its contributions need to be preserved as much as possible, and given the same level of respect as their Muslim counterparts. This post first appeared on www.youlinmagazine.com
Congratulations to our member
Erik Treasuryvala for his Pav Bhaji Masala and Pav Bhaji recipes.
Erik says – Pav Bhaji has its origins in the civil war of America in the 1860s. Read more here…
Erik is a member of the Facebook Parsi Cuisine (PC) group and regularly shares his creations with us. I am very impressed by his diligence and ability to create such mouth-watering foods. We wish Erik many successes in his cooking ventures.
Home made Pav bhaji Masala
Ingredients for 240 ml cup
2 small Black cardamoms or badi elaichi
2 tbps Cumin (Jeera)
4 tbps Coriander seeds (Dhaniya)
2 tsp peppercorns
3/4th tbsp fennel seeds (saunf)
6 red chillies
2 inch Cinnamon or Dalchini
6 cloves or Laung
1 tsp amchur powder (dry Mango Powder)
1. Dry roast all the ingredients one after the other on a medium heat on a pan till they turn flagrant.
2. Add dry mango powder/ amchur powder to the hot pan to get a good aroma
3. Cool the ingredients completely then powder in a blender if needed seive it
4. Store in airtight container.
Who Invented The Famous Indian Dish Called Pav Bhaji?
Pav Bhaji has its origins in the civil war of America in the 1860s. Because of the civil war, there was a huge demand for cotton. Due to this, the traders at the Bombay cotton exchange used to be very busy especially during the night when new cotton rates used to be telegram-ed from America. Thus they used to return home late and the annoyed wives would not serve them food. So to solve this problem the street vendors used to collect the leftover bread from the Jesuit priests and mix all the vegetables, mash them together and used to eat them with the bread and butter. Thus pav (bread) bhaji (vegetables) was born.
Thus from the humble beginnings, the street of Bombay to being a household item in the entire nation Pav Bhaji has come a long way.
Here are 5 different variants of pav bhaji
1. Jain Pav Bhaji -no onion, no garlic version of the regular pav bhaji made using raw bananas instead of potatoes and mashed peas. This is available in Gujarat and parts of Maharashtra.
2. Kathiawar Pav Bhaji – region has local spices added to it, giving it a very distinct taste, and it is usually washed down with a glass of buttermilk.
3. Kada Pav Bhaji – is the same as regular pav bhaji except that the vegetables in it are not mashed up i.e. the chopped and cooked vegetables are kept intact, whole.
4. Punjabi Pav Bhaji – is loaded with whole spices (garam masala), excess butter and often accompanied by a glass of ‘lassi’.
5. Kohlapuri Pav Bhaji – variation where red chilli powder is substituted by Kolhapuri kanda lasun chutney to make it a more spicy, garlicky version of the pav bhaji.
Pav Bhaji Recipe
2 medium potatoes approx 1.5 cups chopped
1/2 cup green peas
3 cups chopped cauliflower
1/2 cups chopped carrot
1 large onion chopped
1 tablespoon Ginger Garlic Paste
2 medium tomatoes chopped
1/2 cup chopped capsicum
1 teaspoon red chilly powder
1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder
1/4 teaspoon cumin-coriander powder
1 teaspoon ready made pav bhaji masala powder or homemade – see above
1 teaspoon lemon juice
Salt to taste
Butter for serving
2 tablespoons concentrate chopped coriander leaves
Pav (soft buns) for serving
1.Chopped potato, cauliflower, carrot & green peas into a 2-3 liter capacity pressure cooker. Add 1/2 cup water & salt to taste.
2.Close the pressure cooker with a lid & cook over medium flame for 2-whistles. Turn off the flame. Open the lid after pressure releases naturally; it will take around 5-7 minutes.
3.Mash the boiled vegetables gently with potato masher or using the backside of a large spoon until little chunky texture. You can mash cooked veggies into a texture you like – with small chunks or smooth with no chunks at all. The texture of your bhaji would depend on how you mashed the veggies.
4.Heat 2-tablespoons oil & 2-tablespoons butter together in a pan over medium flame. Add chopped onion & ginger-garlic paste. Sauté until onion turns translucent.
5.Add chopped capsicum, chopped tomato & salt. Sauté until tomatoes & capsicum turn soft.
6.Add 1½ teaspoons red chilli powder, 1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder, 1-teaspoon cumin-coriander powder & 1-teaspoon readymade pav bhaji masala powder. Stir & cook for a minute.
7.Add 3/4 cup water, mix well & cook for 2-3 minutes. Add boiled & mashed vegetables & 1-teaspoon lemon juice.
8.Mix well and cook for 4-5 minutes. Taste for the salt at this stage & add more if required. Turn off the flame. Add chopped coriander leaves & mix well. Bhaji is ready for serving.
9.Cut the pav buns horizontally into halves. Heat grill over medium flame. Add a tablespoon of butter & place halved pav buns over it. Grill both sides until light brown spots appear, it will take around 30 seconds for each side to turn light brown. Transfer to the plate. Grill remaining pavs.
10.Transfer prepared bhaji to a serving bowl & garnish with a cube of butter. Serve hot with butter Grilled pav, sliced onion & lemon wedges.
I thank Parsi Cuisine to give me this platform to share my Recipes & my Pics & Posts related to Food.
Let’s Share our recipes & have a learning growth to our favorite connection food. You can find Erik Treasuryvala on facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/etreasuryvala/
#pavbhaji , #butterpao ,#paobhaji #loveforfood, #food, #foodbeast, #tryitordiet, #foodmaniacindia, #eatorpass, #mumbaifoodblogger, #mumbaifoodexplorer, #exploringplates, #foodiedilse, #indianfoodiye, #thecutsteve, #cookingdiary, #designedbite, #yummyfoods, #chompeatery
Editor’s Note: Sweet and Crispy Parsi Puri stays for a long time like a month. It is fondly called Tal Papra. Made from sesame seeds (Tal), cardamom and nutmeg powder, and caraway seeds.
As I get ready for a very important prayer day tomorrow, here’s an old recipe not very commonly made today.. Tal na papra… A sweet puri infused with sesame seeds, cardamom and nutmeg powder, and caraway seeds.
Equal proportions of plain and whole wheat flour are mixed with powdered sugar, a generous quantity of sesame seeds and the fragrant powders, ghee, a little water and mixed into a hard dough and rested. The dough is then rolled out into very very thin puris…almost tissue like.
The unique feature of these puris is that they are dry roasted on the griddle first and then fried in boiling oil… And it has to be done simultaneously and fast… Or you have burnt stuff… Hence the stove setup and the need to have quick hands…
My granny Dinamai used to make hundreds of these papra and store them in large aluminum boxes as we went to the village during vacations. I used to devour unimaginable quantities without any thought to the effort that goes into making them.
Today as I made them for the first time, I remembered Dinamai and sent up a small prayer in her memory, and apologized for the trouble I must have caused her. The papra I made were nowhere compared to what she used to make, but brought back memories of childhood and good times…
For me, women like Dinamai were the ultimate role models. They labored, under the most harsh conditions, without a murmur of protest, and gave all they had for the benefit of their spouse, children and family. For me, Dinamai was more emancipated and a greater symbol of feminity than those shrill voices we hear today, or the so called ‘hot chicks’ who can’t hold a ladle in their hands and consider cooking beneath their dignity or who need 10 hours of sleep and then some more…
Behdin Dinamai Behdin Nariman, may your Ruvan progress ahead! @ Udvada
Recipe of Tal Papri puri
1 cup plain maida flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/4 cup sesame seeds (Til)
1 tsp cardamon or nutmeg
1/4 cup ghee
Water enough for mixing the dough
Oil for deep frying
All the above except the oil for frying is mixed into a hard dough and rested. The dough is then rolled out into very very thin puris, almost tissue like. (See photos). Fry in hot oil till crisp, drain and cool.
by Kainaz Antia
Kiku Engineer : passionate about food and fitness
An array of dishes made by Kiku’s Kitchen in Chicago.
“No two days of cooking are ever the same but I love the fervor and exhilaration of it all,” says Kiku Engineer (née
Mistry), nicknamed “the Godiwala of Chicago.” Sorely disappointed when she realized that the cuisine served at the
Zoroastrian Association of Metropolitan Chicago (ZAC) functions was not authentic Parsi food, she decided to take matters into her own hands. “Don’t get me wrong, I love a good butter chicken, just not on Navroz!” she exclaims.
Her debut with catering started when the young bride who had just moved to the USA made lagan nu achar for a fundraiser. Needless to say it was a success, followed by orders for sali margi. Cooking then was just a hobby and not something she did on a daily basis. Actively involved in the local Parsi community and attending various functions, before she knew it, she was catering for the Navroz events at ZAC and has been doing so since 2010.
“Cooking in bulk takes a lot of discipline. I start off by planning the menu and then work out the costing. Never one for numbers, this was quite challenging for me. T-3 days (three days before the event) I procure all the ingredients myself and start the ‘prep’ work for the feast. The days prior to the event are intense and there is no time to slack off. For
instance, the sali margi itself requires 10 pounds of onions and chopping them takes at least 45 minutes! I have to then cook the vaghar (fried onions and spices) in various batches.”
Her most memorable event was catering for the navjote of her daughters Zara and Alea in 2016. “Cooking for my
daughters’ navjote was extra special for me and something that I always dreamed I would do. My love for good lagan nu bhonu combined with the ability to feed 250 people on this special occasion was something that I will always cherish,” she reminisces. With the help of her sister, Kamal Mehta and mother, Mehroo Mistry, Kiku
prepared a feast of sali margi, mutton pulao, masala dal, kolmi no saas and lagan nu achar. They also prepared a
western menu consisting of chicken dijonnaise, seafood paella, spinach and bean salad, macaroni
and cheese, french fries, etc.
Cooking for the guests was hard work, she recollects, but says it was worth the effort to see their satisfied faces.Her biggest challenge is that she is severely allergic to various ingredients including lentils, peas, beans, chick peas, etc but has managed to overcome that by asking friends and family to taste those items to ensure that the recipe is on track.
Born and raised in Bombay, she remembers the emphasis on cooking wholesome and fresh food for every meal in her house. Deriving inspiration from her grandmother Motan Mehta, Kiku’s earliest memory is connected withassisting her grandmother in the kitchen. “We didn’t rely on frozen or packaged foods because everything was made fresh on the stove,” she states.
After graduating from Sophia College in Bombay with a bachelors in psychology and political science, her first job
was food related when she worked with noted food writer Rashmi Uday Singh, compiling recipes for her cookbooksand planning celebrity culinary shows.
Recently, Kiku has gone back to school, formalizing her culinary knowledge witha degree in culinary arts and pastry from the College of Dupage. She will graduate in December 2018. Her aim is to open a carry-out/takeawayfood shop that features well-portioned, healthy, home cooked meals at an affordable price. “I think the biggestchallenge American families face is the convenience and the availability of packaged and frozen foods, cannedgoods and mixes, and artificial colors and preservatives that tend to flood the grocery aisles.
The idea of cooking healthy meals, or just cooking at all, has taken a backseat and our children suffer the
consequences,” she laments. Although, her specialty is Parsi food she also loves experimenting with different cuisines
like Thai, American, French, Japanese, etc and loves learning new techniques.
She has also been trained in specialty diets like ketogenic (low carbohydrate, high fat diet that in medicine is primarily used to treat epilepsy in children), paleo (high protein, low carbohydrate as consumed by ancient hunters-gatherers) and sugar free diets.
Kiku currently co-parents her two daughters with her ex-husband Jim Engineer who is an active member of
the Chicago Parsi community. “To be a Zoroastrian means to be a good person, a good neighbor, brother, sister, mother, father, husband and wife. The values that come with the three basic principles of our religion: good words, good thoughts and good deeds is what resonates with me to be a fellow Zoroastrian and that is also what I instill in my children. At its very core, our religion is simple and basic.”
Kiku takes her children to religion classes at the Darbe Meher in Chicago held every Sunday where they are taught
the basic values of the religion through songs, plays and crafts, and community building activities. Her two passions are food and fitness.
Small wonder as her father is Sensei Pervez Mistry, one of Asia’s leading fitness and karate instructors. At least, that explains how this 40-year-old dynamo is at her fittest ever! Her food mantra:
Don’t serve it to others if you are not going to eat it!
You can check out Kiku’s recipes on her Facebook page — Kiku’s Kitchen or contact her by email: mistry.kiku@
The chef shares two of her recipes for our readers:
Prawns (60-70 — raw)
Onions (1-2 — chopped)
Ginger garlic paste (1-2 tsp)
Tomato (1 — chopped)
Green chilies (2 — split)
Tamarind ball or 1 small lime
For the curry paste
Dried red Kashmiri chilies (10-12)
Red chili powder (1 tsp)
Cumin seeds (1 tbsp)
Coriander seeds (1 tbsp)
Ginger (1 small piece)
Garlic (2 cloves)
Curry leaves (8-10)
Desiccated coconut (1 cup)
Tamarind concentrate (1 tsp)
To make the curry masala
Wash the chillies and add all the ingredients into a mixer-grinder, adding water to make a thick, smooth paste. This can
be made earlier and stored in the fridge in an air tight container.
For the curry
Clean and devein the prawns. Add salt and a pinch of turmeric powder and set aside. Add oil to the vessel and add the
chopped onions. To this add a pinch ofsalt. Add curry leaves and green chilies.
When the onions begin to change color, add the tomatoes and ginger-garlic paste.
After the oil from the tomatoes surfaces, add all the curry paste/masala, stirring constantly so that it doesn’t
stick to the pan. Add a cup and a half of water or more if you like and let the masala cook. You will notice a change
in color when it’s cooked. Depending on the consistency of the curry, add more water and check for salt. Bring to a boil
and let it simmer for a while.
Add prawns and a pinch of lime if needed. Once the prawns are cooked, your curry is done. Serve with hot rice,
kachumbar and boiled beets.
Goan Pork Vindaloo
Pork (1 kg — cut into chunks for stew.
Must use fatty pork, preferably the shoulder)
Onions (2 large — chopped)
Green chili (1 — slit)
Garlic (1 tsp — chopped)
Ginger powder (½ tsp)
Bay leaf (1)
Cinnamon (1” piece)
Star anise (1)
Potatoes (3 — quartered)
Tomatoes (2 — chopped)
Vindaloo masala (2-3 tbsp)
Tomato paste (1-2 tbsp)
For the vindaloo masala
Dried red Kashmiri chillies (12-14)
Garlic (1 clove)
Turmeric (½ tsp)
Coriander seeds (½-1 tsp)
Cumin (1 tsp)
Cinnamon (1 small piece)
Cane vinegar (¼ cup)
Soak the Kashmiri chilies in the vinegar along with the cumin. In a mixer grinder add the garlic, peppercorns, cloves,
coriander seeds, turmeric and soaked chilies with the vinegar and grind. You will need to add water to make a fine,
smooth, thick paste.
Wash and cube the pork and marinate it with salt and set aside. Sauté the onions in a pan with the bay leaf, star anise,
cinnamon and let it sizzle, browning the onions a little. This should take a couple of minutes. Add the garlic and
ginger and stir. Add chopped tomatoes and stir till the oil oozes out and tomatoesare cooked.
In a bowl mix the vindaloo masala and Worcestershire sauce and add that to the onions.
Let the masala cook. This will take time. But take care not to let it burn. Cook on a slow flame and cover it and keep adding just a little water at a time.
When the masala is partly cooked, add the tomato paste, stir and then add the pork. Keep covered. Add cubed potatoes
and stir. Brown the meat a little.
Add enough water — about one and a half cups but not too much — just enough to make the desired gravy you want. You can cook it on the stove or pressure cook it.
If the gravy is too runny, thicken it by boiling the gravy after opening the pressure cooker and letting some water
Taste for salt. Serve with pao (bread) or white rice and onions, tomatoes and beet salad!
Article Source: Parsiana November 7, 2018
Dhansak takes off at Heathrow!
He’s the Bombay boy who’s cooked his way into British hearts with his innovative twists to authentic Indian cuisine. Cyrus Todiwala, who graduated from Mumbai’s BK Somani Polytechnic and trained as a chef with the Taj group, has for over a decade so excited the palates of even the curry savvy British that they felt obliged to award him an OBE last year.
Café Spice Namaste – which he set up 15 years ago with his wife Pervin – is a London landmark and counted amongst the top 100 restaurants of the city.
The latest on aapro Cyrus is that he’s been invited to set up a kitchen – it’s even called Mr Todiwala’s Kitchen – at terminal five of Heathrow airport, which is a great idea considering it’s a transit point for almost every Europe bound Indian.
Some of the irresistible organic offerings on the menu prepared will be his potato and egg delicacy papeeta puridu, the signature dhansak and his devilishly spicy vindaloo with British pork.
It’s all landing at Heathrow London. Read the Trip Advisor Reviews
Looking for Bombay Bakery Coffee Cake Recipe?
Why wait for a trip to Hyderabad when you can replicate the famous cake’s recipe at home?
Nostalgia is a beautiful thing — it comes with editing, and our brain selectively remembers only the very wonderful. One memory I cherish is the legendary coffee cake from the famed Bombay Bakery in Hyderabad.
Abu was a marketing executive at a German multinational, the times were the glorious ’70s and ’80s, and every trip to the Hyderabad depot (a few times a month) meant the coming home of the coffee cake, followed by Ami’s exclamation, ‘Let them eat cake,’ in imitation of the famous words by Marie Antoinette.
Discovering the history of Bombay Bakery
The Bombay Bakery is over 100 years old and was the brainchild of Pahlaj Rai and his Swiss wife who famously sold bakery delights out of her home. The bakery was named after the city by the sea, Bombay. Pahlaj Rai is believed to have enjoyed the aura of the wonderfully cosmopolitan city and decided to name his bakery after it.
Or is there a deeper connection?
My research led me in many directions, but I did connect the dots somewhat, throwing in my experience of cake tasting and knowledge of the history and similarities of cake making in cities like Bombay, Karachi and Hyderabad, all cities belonging to the wonderful province of Sindh.
The book Darjeeling: The Colourful History and Precarious Fate of the World’s Greatest Tea by Jeff Koehler says the following:
“In gardens of hill stations during the summer social season, and in the sunny winter down on the plains, tea was served along with sweets – tiffin cake, dholi buns, Bombay golden cake and Gymkhana cake.”
Reading the same led me to research on Bombay golden cakes, which led me to the fact that the Parsis of Bombay have been baking cakes for the longest time, as have the Parsis of Karachi. Armeen’s and Mrs. Mistrey’s cakes were the rage of the ’80s and ’90s in Karachi, not to mention the Persian Bakery in Saddar, Karachi.
This led me to research Persian and Parsi cookbooks. I came across the name of an exotic one named Vividh Vani, (click here) published in the year 1903, before the opening of the Bombay Bakery. Dan Sheffield, a lecturer at the Dept. of Near Eastern Studies at the Princeton University, U.S, says about the book:
“By this time the Bombay Parsi cuisine had already been Anglicized. The VIVIDH VANI book, which is around 1500 pages, has recipes for 57 varieties of cakes, ranging from coffee cake and cherry cakes to things with exotic names like cake Napoleon, Chantilly cake and Bakar Khani, etc.”
Vividh Vani narrates other interesting stories leading me to my next conjecture. It says the following:
“The second spate of Irani Zoroastrians that fled from the Islamic Qajar regime were mainly bakers, sweet makers and café owners.”
So perhaps it was the delicious baking of Parsi experts in early 20th century Bombay that inspired Pahlaj Rai to name his bakery Bombay Bakery, and maybe the coffee cake is inspired from Bombay baking and is a twist on the coffee cake recipe from Vividh Vani.
When it was time for me to try my luck at baking, I stumbled upon a recipe online. Needless to say it was a slice of heaven from the past. However, the sugar I used for icing was turbinado sugar. It tastes just like white sugar but is brown in colour. So the colour of my icing was a tad darker but the taste was just the same. This heavenly slice of cake took me to the sweetest time of my life, its aroma, taste, texture, presentation was as I remember, and here it is, from my kitchen to yours.
How to make Bombay Bakery’s famous Coffee Cake at home. Please let us know how it comes out.
7 oz. flour
1 ½ tsp. vanilla essence
1 cup castor sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
8 oz. butter
1) Cream butter and sugar with a cake beater.
2) Sift flour and baking powder, adding 1 tbsp. of the dry mixture and 1 egg into sugar/butter and beating it using cake mixer until all four eggs and vanilla essence are added.
3) Add remaining dry mixture and mix with spatula.
4) Divide batter into two 8-inch cake pans and bake in a pre-heated oven (350 degrees F. or 180 degrees C.) for 20 to 22 minutes.
5) Cool completely on wire rack and ice.
1) In a pan, melt 6 oz. butter and ¾ cup white granulated sugar. Set aside to cool.
2) Add 3 beaten eggs to butter and sugar and cook on lowest heat until sugar dissolves and icing has thickened. Set aside to cool.
3) Once cool, add 1 tbsp. coffee (dissolved in 1 tbsp, water) to icing.
4) After setting the icing in the fridge for 20 minutes. ice one cake, then top with the second cake and ice it on top and all around. Set in the fridge for 20 minutes.
Your cake is ready.
Recently, We had a celebrations party at the function room in the restaurant. The buffet food was awesome, tasty and in abundant variety.
From Pani puri, samosas, bhajia, fresh dosa, chicken, goat curry to biryani they had over 25 dishes to eat. Dessert was Jalebi and Fruit with Masala Chai.
We give a 5 star review to the Holi Restaurant in Bedford, MA.
All you can eat !! Or use their catered foods and party in your own backyard!
Daily Buffet: 11:30 – 3:00
Dinner: 3:00 – 10:00
Sunday Brunch Buffet: 11:30 – 3:00
, and your discount will automatically be applied at checkout.
Recipe for the Bombay Duck Pickle
(Dried Salty Fish Pickle)
The Parsi community loves Seafood and this Bombay duck patio preparation shows their desire to eat fish in all seasons. The native Fish called Boomla (or Bombay Ducks) is abundant in the rainy season in Tarapore, Mumbai and other places. The villagers dry and salt the boomlas to preserve them. This way this Fish can be enjoyed all year long.
100 pieces of Bombay Ducks- dried (Boomla or Bombay ducks are dried salty fish)
250 gm Kashmiri Chilies
1/4 cup chopped Garlic
2 tbsp chopped Ginger
1 kg cooking Oil
1 bunch Curry leaves (clean and remove stems)
2 pods ( whole) Garlic
1 inch Ginger
2 tsp Salt or to taste
1 tsp Turmeric powder (Haldi)
3-4 sprigs Curry leaves-clean and remove stems
2 cups Vinegar
Wash Bombay Ducks, in Vinegar and drain well.
Grind the Chilies, Garlic, Ginger, Salt and Turmeric to a paste.
Heat the Oil and fry the Fish over high heat till brown.
Drain it off the Oil and keep aside.
Fry the Curry leaves in the same Oil, until they turn dark brown.
Take them out of the Oil and keep aside. In the remaindered Oil, add the ground paste and stir fry till fat separates.
Add the fried Bombay Ducks. Cook for 15 minutes over slow fire.
Finally add the fried Curry leaves mix well and shut off the heat. Store in an airtight jar.
[amazon_link asins=’B077XM2X28′ template=’ProductCarousel’ store=’1447-5689-3485′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’0f08178d-039c-11e8-9b3c-bb1aafee09e7′]
Fresh Boomla looks like this:
Health Benefits of Boomla
Bombli Tawa fry bombay duck fish fry
– By Vahchef @ Vahrehvah.com
Dry Bombil Curry and How to clean Dry Bombil
How to clean and cook fresh boomla
Laughter and Music 🙂 by Bombay Duck – Uma Pocha & Chorus. Music: Mina Kava
by Meher Mirza
The Parsis especially have taken the nankhatai to their heart and it is to my favourite Parsi cookbook writer that I turned for the recipe. This is of course, my well-thumbed copy of Bhicoo Manekshaw’s Parsi Food and Customs in which she writes, “Parsis have no boundaries when it comes to good food and will accept any dish that their palates fancy.
Their tea-time snacks are a delightful mixture of Gujarati, Maharashtrian and European dishes, as well their own typical ones.” And so it is with the hybrid nankhatai. Here is her recipe, slightly astonishing because of her use of yoghurt.
Bhicoo Manekshaw’s Nankhatai Recipe
5 cups maida
A pinch of salt
1 tsp crushed green cardamom seeds
2 tsp soda bicarbonate
2 ½ cups castor sugar
50 gm ghee or butter
6-8 Tbsp curd, beaten till smooth
Cashew nut halves, for decoration (or almond or pistachio or chironji)
1. Set oven to 175 degrees C (or 350 degrees F).
2. Sift flour with salt, crushed cardamom and bicarb of soda.
3. Beat ghee or butter with sugar till light and fluffy. Add curd and mix well. Add flour and mix to a stiff dough. Rest dough for half an hour.
4. Place one teaspoon mixture on a greased baking tray for each biscuit, leaving a space of 2 inches between each. Place a cashew nut on top of each biscuit.
5. Place in oven and bake for about 20-25 minutes.
Everybody knows about the British and Portuguese influence on Indian food, but not a lot know about Dutch fingerprints on Indian food. Way back in the 17th century, plenty of Dutch colonies were flung all over the Gujarati city of Surat in order to facilitate trade with India. Anxious for a taste of home, they set up a bakery, employing five Parsis to run it. This happy monopoly soon came to an end though, when the British eventually wrested control of Surat. The bakery, largely untainted by the colonial forces at play, happily stayed open. One of the bakers, Faramjee Pestonji Dotivala, continued bakingbread but demand for it sank. Perhaps it was too expensive? In any case, the older, harder bread which was sold for cheaper, became popular and eventually it morphed into the rusk-dry Irani biscuit. In its wake came the sweet, rich nankhataibiscuit, which the Dotivalas claim to have also invented. “In those days,” the Dotivala website reads, “the locals used to make a sweet called ‘dal’. Our ancestors baked the ‘dal’ and the now famous nankhatai was invented.”
Elsewhere, in ‘Eat, Live, Pray’, a publication of the Federation of Zoroastrian Associations of North America, Farishta Murzban Dinshaw writes, “Parsi bakers were inspired by the eggless Scottish shortbread, favoured by sailors because it kept well on long voyages, to create nankhatai, one of Surat’s famous confections. The Surti bakers realised the recipe was suitable for Gujarati vegetarians who did not eat eggs, so they adapted it to local taste by adding cardamom, cashews, almonds and pistachios.”
Today, the nankhatai we know is a light golden circle made with a cloud of ghee (or butter) and pocked with nutmeg and cardamom. Served warm and fresh from the oven, it has a dense, brittle, buttery texture that pairs excellently with a hot cup of tea. The nankhatai’s marriage of starch and sugar is an immensely satisfying way to perk up a drowsy afternoon.
Where to Get Nankhatai
I’ve read of nankhatai street vendors who hawk their wares in narrow, old Delhi lanes. Someone once gave me a packet of crumbly almond-studded ones from Frontier Biscuits; apparently Frontier makes khatais in various flavours, including chocolate and mango. But I am a nankhatai purist, so I won’t comment on the bastardisation of this biscuit. Some of the best nankhatais I have tasted though are from Mumbai’s Paris Bakery, well-known for their heavy-handed use of butter. Consequently, their biscuits are absolutely delicious and their batasas are the best in the world, or so I always maintain. Recently, I tried the nankhatai in Udvada and we, as a family, were united in our disappointment. “Paris Bakery has spoiled us,” said my dad, sadly.
To be fair, I have not yet tried the nankhatai from Surat’s Dotivala or any from Pune’s Parsi bakeries, a lacuna that I am desperate to fill. Perhaps it will be even better than Paris.
The introduction of yoghurt into the recipe is intriguing. From my forays into Internet blogs and books, I noticed that the issue of yoghurt is split evenly down the middle. For instance, the other Parsi cookery writer that I respect, Bapsi Nariman, doesn’t use any. Nariman, in her Traditional Parsi Dishes, uses semolina and whole wheat flour (not maida), doused in 110g of desi ghee, which she kneads. But Niloufer Icchaporia King, writing in My Bombay Kitchen: Traditional and Modern Parsi Home Cooking, does use yoghurt (and much, much less sugar than is required for Ms Manekshaw’s nankhatai. Now that makes it healthier but does it necessarily make it tastier?).
My own taste test was conducted on (who else?) Ms Manekshaw’s recipe, which I more or less followed to the letter. The nankhatai turned out delicious, perfect little half-spheres, crumbling and spluttering in the mouth. However, I did find the cardamom a little overwhelming, because I am not a massive fan of the spice.
A few other notes:
The flour will not turn brown after baking, but stay white or pale brown, which is how it should be.
The khatais may take less than 20 minutes to bake; mine were done in about 15.
After baking, make sure to let the biscuits stand on a wire rack or sheet to cool – they will harden into the perfect nankhatai texture.
Oh and don’t skimp on the butter (or ghee). Its specialty is its decadence.
About the author: Meher Mirza is an independent writer and editor, with a focus on food and travel. Formerly with BBC Good Food India, she loves anime, animals and artsy things but also comics, technology and death metal.
The event was wonderful! It was a pleasure to share my history and heritage with the Carlisle town folk, who attended this even with the cold weather in January. There was a ice and snow storm going on outdoors, but warm, hot and spicy food was had by all indoors.
After the event, my daughter said it all! “Great lessons learned and tasty food shared! Great job, Mom!!! “
The Carlisle Mosquito (newspaper of the town of Carlisle, MA) published a feature interview, you can read it here. (click on link). Thanks Anne!
Jim took a video and photographs:
by Jenifer Petigara Mistry
Growing up in Surat and that too the old part of the city, at 10-12 years of age Makar-Sankranti was a day full of loud music blaring from the rooftops, “Kaipo Chhe” or “Kaipoch” or”aye peli peeli gayi ” or “Laali ni pi” sounds. In the narrow streets, there would be people standing on the most precarious perches on the roofs, convoluted Roman athletes with arms to the sky waving frantically(coz you can’t see the thread they were holding from afar), shouting to each other from one building to another,.. literally a city that existed on the roofs rather than the roads that day !! My friend and I would also climb up to the water tanks.. a rather steep, dangerous climb to be done only once in a year, stand or sit on minute spaces between the roof tiles, munching at the Til-Laddu and Fafda-Jalebi!!
Growing up, for all my bravado I was an introvert so I could never ask anyone to let me fly the kite or teach. Besides Dad said money was too scarce to throw away on glassed thread and paper !! But once in a while someone would be nice to let me hold on to the string for a while .. that would be my highlight for the week .. until another little joy caught my fancy .. small joys .. small little tidbits of innocence.. every little second crammed with a ton-full of life .. that’s what I remember even today .
That is – that and food that grandmom would cook. For her special days had to have special menus. So Makarsankranti was khichdi, Bangan Bharatu (what she called Bharat) and Levta (mudfish). So in remembrance of her and all those childhood memories today I decided to cook khichdi and Levta. I skipped the bharatu mainly because I am not a great fan of the veggies 😃😃
LEVTA IN FRESH GARLIC, SPRING ONIONS AND CORIANDER
250 g mudfish (you can substitute with fish fillet or prawns) – cleaned
1/4 cup chopped spring onions
1/4 cup chopped fresh garlic
1/4 cup chopped coriander
3-4 green chilies chopped
1/2 tsp garlic paste
1 tsp ginger paste
1/2 tsp mango ginger (amba haldi-optional)
1 tsp coriander powder
1/2 tsp cumin powder
1/4 tsp turmeric powder
For Marination : Marinate fish for 60 minutes in ..
1 tsp garlic paste
1 tsp red chillies powder
1 tsp cumin powder
1/2 tsp coriander powder
1/2 tsp dhansak masala
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
Slightly heat oil in a pan and add the pastes. Sauté for 30 seconds and add chopped garlic, green chillies and spring onions. Sauté till they start slightly wilting. Add the dry spices and sauté for 30 seconds more. Add the chopped coriander, salt and mix. Add the fish. Cover with the masala. Reduce to simmer and cook closed about 2 minutes on each side. This is a delicate fish and hence do not turn it too often or too roughly. Enjoy with khichdi and spring onions !!
Special Meal .. Special people to remember ..
Apply Discount Code “AFDX5BD5” * Sale ends August 31, 2017 Click on image to go to the Amazon Create Space shopping cart. Next, add the book you want and then apply discount code. Proceed to check out.
Commemorated in a grand and elaborate fashion, preparations for Navroze begin well in advance. Houses are cleaned to remove all the cobwebs and painted new. They are then adorned with different auspicious symbols, namely, stars, butterflies, birds and fish. New attires are ordered and made especially for the festival. On the day of Navroze, people dress in their new and best clothes and put on gold and silver kustis and caps. The doors and windows are beautified with garlands of roses and jasmines. Color powders are used for creating beautiful and attractive patterns, known as rangoli, on the steps and thresholds. These intricate and creative patterns display the sanctity of the festivals. Moreover, fish and floral motifs are a favorite among rangolis and considered highly auspicious.
Guests are welcomed by sprinkling rose water and rice, followed by applying a tilak. Breakfast usually consists of Sev (a vermicelli preparation roasted in ghee and choc-a-bloc with dry fruits) which is served with yogurt and enjoyed by young and old alike. After breakfast, it is time to visit the Agiary or Fire Temple to offer prayers. Special thanksgiving prayers, known as Jashan, are held and sandalwood is offered to the Holy Fire. At the end of this religious ceremony, all Parsis take the privilege to exchange new greetings with one another by saying ‘Sal Mubarak’. Back home, special delicacies are made marking the lunch as an elaborate and delicious affair.
Various Parsi dishes, such as Sali boti (a mutton and potato preparation), chicken farchas, patrani machchi (fish steamed in a leaf), mutton pulao and dal, kid gosh and saas ni machchi (a thick white gravy with pomfret) jostle for space on the table. However, the most significant dish that forms an integral part of Jamshed Navroz celebrations is pulav (rice enriched with nuts and saffron, aka biryani). Besides, plain rice and moong dal are a must on this day. Desserts too are not behind in terms of variety, the most important being falooda. It is a sweet milk drink made from vermicelli and flavored with rose essence. Lagan-nu-custard, or caramel custard, is another favorite on this occasion. The entire day is spent by visiting friends and relative and exchanging good wishes and blessings.
Suggested Menu for the Navroz day:
I was at a modern food superstore in Bandra, Mumbai’s swish suburb, the other day. I walked past rows of imported gourmet cheeses, pastas and meats when I suddenly spotted a group of blue coloured packs which looked as if they were cheerfully waving at me. A closer inspection showed that they were packs of the homegrown Parsi Dairy ghee. I am a Bengali married to a Parsi as you probably know. I remembered that Freddy (Firoz) Kerawala, my maternal uncle-in-law, is a big advocate of the Parsi Dairy Farm butter and ghee. I decided to buy a pack of ghee for home to add to my stock of Jharna ghee from Kolkata as a tribute to the spirit of what Parsi author Meher Pestonji referred to as “mixed marriage”.
Mumbai’s heritage brand, the Parsi Dairy Farm’s products have made a welcome entry into the world of modern retail these days. Its packaged butters, cheeses, kulfis and lassis are to be found proudly jostling for space with dairy products from multinational companies and imported brands in these stores. Its kulfisare served by the SodaBottleOpenerWala restaurant chain
in their outlets across the country. Thanks to such initiatives, one can expect this 100 year-old institution to get a fresh lease of life. There was an outburst of heartfelt anguish in response to the news of the Parsi Dairy Farm allegedly shutting down sometime back.
The Parsi Dairy Farm and its legacy is integral to many Mumbai memories and stories after all. My late father-in-law, Mr. Marzban Bilimoria, for example, loved the kulfis of Parsi Dairy Farm. His eyes would light up when these were served at Parsi weddings. He loved these so much that my wife and my mother-in-law would happily give their shares to him. His smile post the kulfi was typical of that of a happy Parsi Dairy Farm customer.
Thankfully, the Parsi Dairy Farm lived to fight another day and it didn’t close down. However, an enterprise cannot run on nostalgia alone. It needs consumer support and this support comes only when an enterprise stays relevant and reinvents itself. The Parsi Dairy Farm was built on the spirit of enterprise shown by its founder, the late Nariman Ardeshir, and it is only apt that the business reinvents itself today. Now it is up to us to keep the legacy alive.
How Did it All Begin
It is said that Mr. Ardeshir hit upon the idea of entering the dairy business when a chance conversation made him realise the trust that the Parsi community evoked among Mumbaikars. He decided to capitalise on this and set up a dairy business, which would stand to offer the best quality milk.
Historian, archaeologist, caterer, Mumbai born food raconteur and a dear friend, Dr. Kurush Dalal, has an interesting anecdote to relate in this context. This story is from the 1970s. Kurush’s father, the late Mr. Feroze Hirji Dalal, used to work on the ships. The late Mr. Dalal was used to great quality milk, thanks to his voyages across the world. He missed this when he was at home as Mumbai was going through a milk shortage back then. He was dependent on the milk doled out by the government on the basis of ration cards and by local doodhwalas (milk men) and neither made the cut for him. Out of frustration one day he asked his milkman about where he could get milk to which water had not been added.
“Who to sirf Parsi Dairy me hoga,” – only in the Parsi Dairy milk – replied the milkman. Such was the regard in which the Parsi Dairy Milk was held even by its competition.
Parsi Dairy milkmen cycling down to South Mumbai houses in cobalt blue shirts and khaki shorts were once a part of the fabric of Mumbai. They would come bearing milk cans, sealed at the dairy every morning, and pour it out through taps to sleepy householders. The milk was more expensive than the other locally available milk but its patron saw value in it.
This was a business built on love as is evident in another story Kurush told me. Apparently the late Mr. Nariman Ardeshir had a ‘retirement scheme’ for the cows that supplied the milk at the Parsi Dairy Farm. Cognizant of the debt he owed to them, he made sure that the cows could live out their final years in peace even after they had stopped producing milk.
The Dairy Business Today
The business is now run by various members of the Ardeshir family and some of it has been divided amongst them. Given the difficulty of competing with lower priced and more abundantly available milk, they hardly supply fresh milk now. The butter, ghee and kulfi that you see in the stores is perhaps a more practical way of carrying the legacy forward.
I would also suggest that you make a trip to the Parsi Dairy Farm outlet at South Mumbai’s Princess Street. The blue uniform of the very courteous staff there is a throwback to the uniform of the Parsi Dairy Farmdoodhwallas of yore. If lucky, you might see members of the family still sitting at the counter. Their sincerity and commitment to the family legacy shows in the wonderful quality of what’s on offer at the shop and the warm welcome you will get there. Sit on one of the many inverted milk cans, enjoy the air-conditioning and the value of living a slow life when you are there. This is precious.
Given the summer heat, you would do well to try a butter milk or a sweet lassi. They will give you a straw but the lassi is so thick that you will need a spoon to finish it. Or you can try some of the Parsi sweets on offer. Freddy mama says that you should try the batela (baked) pedas typical to Parsi. Our family friend and a lover of good food, the late Jamshed Adrianvala, was very fond of their malai khaaja. This is a sweet that consists of a sugar syrup soaked, flour-based crust, the khaaja, which envelopes inside it chilled and refreshing sweet malai (milk cream). The combination of the two contrasting textures and tastes is heady.
To take home, there is the ghee, rare for Mumbai unsalted butter of course. Or you can take home the mava nu boi. This is a reduced milk-based sweet made in the shape of a fish called boi (parshe in Bengali). This is exchanged among Parsi households on auspicious occasions and is a good way to take home some of the Parsi Dairy Farm love and blessings back with you and to pay your respects to the late Mr. Nariman Ardeshir.
About the Author:
Kalyan loves to eat and he loves to talk about all that he eats. His wife urged him to start writing about it, otherwise she would have to hear it all. He blogs as ‘finelychopped’ and is the author of The Travelling Belly published by Hachette Publications.
The opinions expressed within this article are the personal opinions of the author. NDTV is not responsible for the accuracy, completeness, suitability, or validity of any information on this article. All information is provided on an as-is basis. The information, facts or opinions appearing in the article do not reflect the views of NDTV and NDTV does not assume any responsibility or liability for the same.
Globe-trotting TV chef Anthony Bourdain talked to Vogue India after the launch of his new website Explore Parts Unknown, and he had some shade to throw at his hometown food scene. Though Bourdain loves Indian food, he claims that New York doesn’t have a single Indian restaurant that he likes:
Back home, we are really weak on street food, at least in Manhattan. Queens is another matter, there’s a lot of good street food there. New York does deli well, so I can safely recommend Pastrami Queen, Katz’s Deli, or Barney Greengrass. But I can’t recommend any Indian restaurant in New York. I’ve been spoiled.
Of course, Manhattan has tons of Indian restaurants, and not everyone agrees with Bourdain. Earlier this year, Times critic Pete Wells made an argument for traveling to Curry Hill — the Indian cuisine destination in Murray Hill — for sampling some of the best Indian cooking in the area.
Eater critic Robert Sietsema scoffed upon hearing Bourdain’s assertion. “I would be glad to show him dozens of good Indian dining institutions at all levels in Manhattan, beginning with the dosa cart on Washington Square,” Sietsema says.
But Bourdain did have some kind words to say about New York too in the Vogue India interview, saying the city “has a big heart.” “It doesn’t like to see itself in that way, but we do come together when need be, often in moments of crisis,” he says.
And Eater will concede at least one thing: the very best Indian restaurants in the New York metropolitan area are not in NYC at all, but in New Jersey.
If you happen to travel to Sacramento California and ask any one where one finds a good restaurant serving Parsi food, they will tell you not to miss the restaurant operated by Dinyar Noshir Anklesaria.
by Aspi Ustad – Vancouver, Canada
He is a name synonymous with Parsi Food in Northern California. People who know him well, call him ‘Dino’ with love.
Dinyar traveled thru East coast of US to the West, served many a celebrities in his restaurants and charmed many thru his delicious cooking recipes handed over for generations.
He is not only good at dishing out Parsi cusine to name a few Dhanshak, sali boti, chicken farcha, patra-ni-machi, but also serves mughlai dishes which includes, Mutton Biryani, Tikka Boti, Butter Chicken, Nihari, etc.
Born to Noshir and Roshan Anklesaria in Ahmedabad, India. Brought up in close knit parsi community of Karachi. His interest with food was attained at an early age, when he saw his mom cook delicious parsi dishes. Her Dal-ni-Pori, Bhakra, were very famous in Karachi households and till date in Vancouver.
After completing his schooling from B V S High School, Karachi, he went on to complete his studies in science. He always dreamt like many youngsters of setting foot on American soil and achieve what’s called “The American Dream”. This American dream of succeeding in life took him to the door steps of New York city, where he started working as a car salesperson. The job did not interest him much so he moved to try his hand at cooking and start a restaurant of his own. “Times were tough. It was not easy to penetrate the restaurant market with already established brands” says Dinyar.
He partnered with a Parsi friend to set up a Parsi restaurant. He met with good success and people were flowing thru but location had parking issues which made them draw down shutters and move. ‘I had to sacrifice a lot, and make some life changing decisions at that time’ says Dinyar.
He moved to Conneticut and later travelled thru a few states before making his mark in California where he now has his roots firmly sunk in. He has established himself well in California and is a household name amongst most parsis.
Dinyar says “They order food during special occasions like birthdays, anniversaries, Navjote, Weddings”. He laughs and says “they need a reason to order my food”.
He also provides catering service to large companies in the Silicon Valley. His vegetarian dishes are a hit amongst the cross section of population he serves in these companies. He states “Dal Makhani, Sak, topped up with mango lassi are instant hits”. He goes on to say “if someone places an order for 50 people I make sure I have more food, in case of last minute arrivals. There have been instances where the crowd turns out to be more then the order placed by the host”.
Dinyar knows his patrons well and they know that Dinyar will never disappoint even if there are changes to the menu at the last moment or if the number of guests goes up.
Dinyar attributes his art of cooking to his mom Roshan from whom he learnt cooking in his earlier days and attributes his taste for good food to his dad Noshir from whom he also learnt the art to negotiate at the time of buying groceries.
Presently he has ventured into consulting and managing restaurants, wherein he takes up restaurants which are not doing well and turns them into profitable ventures. He says “First thing I look at is the menu and suggests changes, then I look at the décor, if it is not suitable I get it changed. These things bring in more business for restaurants and some of the owners do not pay attention to these finer details”. His consultancy is increasing and he has to turn down some of the offers he gets. As he says “I am a one man band and cope up with so much of quality work and do not want to disappoint anyone”
Celebrating Zoroastrian Festivals and Traditions
Authored by Mrs Rita Jamshed Kapadia
Book explains Zoroastrian Ceremonies of Parsi Weddings, Navjotes, Agarni, Pug Ladoo Ceremony, Death and Birth Ceremonies
These ceremonies of joy and sad days are celebrated with Indian Parsi Foods.
(Recipes: Inspired by old traditional parsi cookbooks like the “Vividh Vani”, Kapadia has come up with homemade recipes.)
Cookbook presents an journey into the Food, History and Heritage of the Zoroastrians of India with Recipes that are age-old.
The author Rita Jamshed Kapadia resides in USA. Rita learnt from her Mother Parin and Mother-in-Law Jaloo the favorites and staples of a parsi home.
From hearty Italian, to aromatic Indian to the piquant spices of fine Chinese, fine-dining restaurants at Taj Lands End, Mumbai, will make you travel the world. Savour each unique recipe perfected.
Whether it’s cooking up innovative dishes or infusing recipes with genuine flavours, winner of the Best Lady Chef, Amninder Sandhu continues to hone her culinary prowess! Don’t miss out on her Aloo Tikki Chat when you visit #TajLandsEnd
Indulge your fondness for cheese and lamb as you bite into a delicious combination of the two in The Lumberjack’s Double Decker at #AtriumLounge. Call 022 6668 1233 for reservations.#BurgersAndHops
Atrium Lounge invites you to a scrumptious meal at the Gourmet #BurgersAndHops festival as the chill sets in. Our velvety beer and gourmet burgers are perfect to bring in the winter with! Call 022 6668 1233 for reservations.
Taj Lands End is ideally located in the queen of Mumbai’s Western Suburbs, Bandra. Known for its distinct character, diverse community, vibrant nightlife and shops, eateries and promenades, Bandra is a preferred gateway for the Indi-curious.
This luxurious five-star hotel is perched atop the Bandstand. From here, you are treated to dramatic views of the city’s stunning skyline and the emblematic Sea Link, as well as the historical Bandra Fort and the calming Arabian Sea.
South Mumbai—comprising the city’s main business localities, tourist destinations, shopping and historical attractions—is only a quick ride across the Sea Link. North Mumbai and Bandra-Kurla Complex are conveniently close, as are the domestic and international airports.
True food and wine connoisseurs from all over the world favour the collection of fine-dining restaurants at Taj Lands End. Savour traditional Indian cuisine at Masala Bay, home-style Italian at Maritime by San Lorenzo and fine Chinese specialities at Ming Yang. Our popular all-day-dining restaurant, Vista serves a medley of flavours from the world over and a delectable Sunday brunch.
The craft of our master chefs and impeccable service perfectly complement the ultimate location, amenities, beautifully landscaped seaside and poolside lawns, and large selection of grand banquet halls of this landmark hotel. This makes Taj Lands End the preferred venue for your business conferences and dream wedding celebrations in Mumbai.
Ensconced within this luxury hotel, however, you could choose to altogether overlook that you are at the nerve-centre of the thriving metropolis. Stay in our grand luxury rooms and suites, all with spectacular sea views, or at our one-of-a-kind grand presidential suite.
Lounge by the pool beside the Tropics Bar; indulge yourself with a day at Jiva Spa and shop for finely curated Indian artefacts at Taj Khazana. Be pampered by our world-renowned butlers and enjoy sumptuous in-room dining experiences.
Come, escape deep within this palm-lined haven on the harbour. Click here for more
Is it true that the Dotivala family invented the famous Parsi Batasa ? How and when did this come about?
Yes, our forefathers were the inventors of the famous tea time biscuit popularly known as Batasa. It was in the early 1800’s when our forefather Mr. Faramji Pestonji Dotivala joined the Dutch Bakery set up by the Dutch Settlers here in Surat. These bakeries used to manufacture bread for the European population here who were settled for purpose of trading. Once the Dutch left Surat, they handed over the ovens to Faramji who started manufacturing and selling bread. But as the settlers’ started leaving Surat, the consumption of bread decreased. In those days the fermentation of bread was done using Toddy. The leftover bread never got spoilt as toddy was a natural fermenting agent. All that happened to those breads was that they lost moisture. The dried bread became a product to relish by the local people. Doctors too advised eating this dry bread when patient was sick. It was easy to digest. The demand slowly grew for this bread. Faramji then started drying this bread in the ovens to meet the demand. This gave birth to the popular Irani Biscuits which are still made and consumed regularly by our customers. The doctors started prescribing something more nutritious once the patients recovered. Faramji started adding more shortening (In those days Pure Ghee) to this biscuit. And made it more palatable by adding Caraway seeds for flavour. This gave birth to the famous Batasas of Surat. For about a century after Faramji invented the batasas, pure ghee was used as shortening.
How many generations and years?
My father Mr. Jamshed Peshotan Dotivala is the Fifth inline to own this business and I am the sixth in line. Exact year of inception is not known but we have been doing business in the current premises since the year 1861.
What were the guiding business principles which allowed the “Dotivala” bakery to maintain it’s leadership position and keep competitors at bay ?
Our forefathers had only one point principle while doing business and that was “Maintaining High Standards of Quality”. This ensured that our customers always got the best. Later on generations also concentrated on innovations. Bringing in new products and keeping up with new trends. Ethical and honest in our dealings, we have managed to survive six generation and God willing will continue further.
Over its long history did the product evolve to keep up with changing taste buds? Was this issue a major business decision?
Yes, the products have evolved a lot since they were first invented. And for our forefathers who were brought up with the old school of thoughts, it was a major business decision. With time the raw materials changed drastically and severe changes needed to be made. One such change was a shift from Pure Ghee to Vanaspati ( Hydrogenated Vegetable Oils). At that time my grand uncle could not shift easily as he felt he was giving a product of lesser quality. He continued to sell the products made with pure ghee at the prices of products made using Vanaspati. His competitors would sell and make profits while my grand uncle had to suffer losses. After a lot of persuasion by his brothers, he agreed to sell products made from vanaspati. But after the shift too, he made sure that the product was of high quality.
Family businesses seldom last beyond 3 generations. What did the Dotivala family do to maintain harmony and sustainability which indeed is a major business accomplishment?
Our family has always been a very united family. In the old days all the brothers and cousins lived together as a joint family. Went to the same school and later shifted to where ever their career took them. The main reason for survival of our business has always been the passion that our forefathers had to sell high quality products to our customers. There was a sense pride to own and run this business and every generation had one member of the family ready to take over the business.
Would you like to pass on some advice to Zoroastrian entrepreneurs who may be thinking of starting a new business?
Well, I am too young to advise anyone but for our industrious community who has always been an example of entrepreneurship, I would urge the young generation to pursue doing business. Let not the industrious spirit in us die. Our forefathers spent a lot of their energy in setting up businesses which can reach new heights with the infusion of new blood.
Fathers, mothers and grandmothers still figure in the new wave of Indian restaurants showing up around metro Atlanta. But family tradition is a touchstone rather than a millstone, nowadays. And please don’t bring up those bad old memories of face-stuffing buffets set to wailing sitar soundtracks, or you just might elicit a bout of laughter mixed with embarrassment.
What you’ll find at Bhojanic in Buckhead and Chai Pani in Decatur are creative takes on Indian food that offer brighter, fresher flavors in varied portion sizes, all kinds of current beer, wine and cocktail options, and settings that are decidedly contemporary.
Indian with a difference
Archna Becker opened her second Bhojanic location in the Shops Around Lenox a little more than a month ago. The menu, the same as you’ll find at her original restaurant in Decatur, is the first thing that distinguished Bhojanic when it opened some eight years ago, with a selection of small plate “Indian tapas” designed for sampling and sharing.
“The main thing I hated was that you had to buy a lot of large portions,” Becker says of more typical Indian restaurants of the time. “You either ate at a nasty buffet or you ended up buying $200 worth of food and eating it all week.”
Bhojanic’s mostly Northern Indian, Punjabi-style cuisine comes from Becker’s homeland and is cooked homestyle, without butter or cream. The kitchen sources local and seasonal ingredients, and freshly roasted spices are ground daily.
Specialty cocktails, wine and draft craft beer, and an energetic atmosphere, often punctuated with the sounds of live jazz, underscore that this is Indian with a difference.
“I took my family’s food, my grandmother’s food, my dad’s food, and presented it in a different manner,” Becker says. “Our thing is traditional food in a nontraditional atmosphere. We don’t change the recipes. We make alu gobi the way my grandmother makes it.”
Becker’s disdain for old school Indian restaurants is what compelled her to get into the business, starting with a catering company, then a small shop at Emory, before finally coming up with the full-blown Bhojanic concept.
“I wanted something different. I wanted it to look different. I wanted the music to be different. The concept is everything I like. I like to eat a lot of different things, and I like to drink a lot of different things. I like jazz and I wanted to have live music.”
Becker’s other guiding principle is hospitality, which she defines as treating customers with respect.
“We don’t think our customers are dumb,” she says. “We’re not the stereotypical place, where the guest is doing a favor by being there. That makes me cringe. We appreciate our guests coming in. They’re the reason we’re there.”
In Buckhead, the design includes a trellis-covered entryway patio, an open dining room and a roomy L-shaped bar, all accented with a bazaar of dangling lights, pillows and curtains fashioned with Indian fabrics.
Every Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, the restaurant hosts the get-happy “Khush Time” with food specials and live music.
“It’s been a great first month,” Becker says. “It’s been very, very busy. It took us seven years at the other one to get that busy.”
3400 Around Lenox Road, Suite 201, in the Shops Around Lenox. 404-841-8472.
A friendly tug of war
At Chai Pani — a Bollywood-meets-contemporary-cool spot that opened in March in happening downtown Decatur — executive chef/owner Meherwan Irani is assisted by chef de cuisine Daniel Peach in creating what he calls “mindblasting” Indian street food.
That means sourcing produce from local purveyors and farmers and making their own spice blends, chutneys and sauces. That good stuff shows up in dishes like okra fries tossed in lime and spices, a Sloppy Joe take, “Sloppy Jai,” with spiced lamb hash, and even cocktails such as a whiskey sour mixed with fresh lime and Kashmiri chili powder.
Irani, who grew up near Mumbai and learned to cook from his mother, came to the U.S. to earn an MBA, then worked in sales and marketing before opening the original Chai Pani in Asheville, N.C.
Peach, a young, blond-haired, blue-eyed South Carolina native who is fluent in Hindi, immersed himself in Indian cuisine by living, studying and cooking all over India, including in Irani’s mother’s kitchen.
Together, Irani and Peach are offering another generation’s side of the ongoing argument over what constitutes “authentic” Indian cuisine, drawing on its Portuguese and Iranian influences, and refining dishes with classic French techniques.
“For a long time, Indian food was stuck in the same place that Italian food was 20 or 30 years ago,” Irani says. “Most people thought of Italian food as pasta and some sort of red sauce. The Indian equivalent of that is naan and tandoori chicken.”
Like many Americans, Peach’s intro to Indian food was in a buffet line. But his time in India opened his eyes and quickly reset his palate.
“Indians are very quick to adopt a new thing and turn it into something uniquely Indian and make it work,” Peach says. “It’s like MacGyver. That really happens a lot with food. In Bombay (now known as Mumbai), you can get a griddled version of a club sandwich on white bread with chutneys and a potato patty. To me, it’s almost more uniquely Indian than rice and lentils, because it embodies that spirit.”
Irani and Peach like to give the MacGyver treatment to Southern staples, adding Indian spice to shrimp and grits or fried green tomatoes, or making kale pakoras or roasted sweet corn bhel.
“We’re not Americanizing Indian food,” Irani insists. “If anything, we’re Indianizing a lot of American ideas and concepts. That’s in the true spirit of what India is.
“It may seem to some people that we’re taking Indian food and sort of curating it in a trendy, hip fashion. But there are super hip, cool restaurants in India now. There’s an entire generation, millions upon millions of people, that have grown up with a very Western sensibility.”
For that reason, reactions to the Chai Pani menu tend to be generational, Irani says. “Older Indians come in and they love my grandma’s dal. At the same time, young Indians who have grown up with Western pop culture come in and love what we’re doing with our cocktails or our kale pakoras.”
But even in the Chai Pani kitchen, Irani and Peach sometimes engage in a friendly tug of war, drawing the line between tradition and innovation.
“It’s a funny juxtaposition,” Irani says. “Daniel’s immersion in India as a Westerner really made him more of a traditionalist. Going to India was a revelation where he really embraced it and wanted to come back and represent the villages and the countryside and the real food. I’m constantly trying to push the envelope on traditional Indian food. Chai Pani is what it is because of that.”
Chai Pani 406 W. Ponce de Leon Ave., Decatur. 404-378-4030.
Link: Botiwalla, Ponce City Market, 675 Ponce De Leon Ave NE, Atlanta. botiwalla.com/
by Meenakshi Iyer, Hindustan Times, Mumbai
Since its opening in Gurgaon two years ago, SodaBottleOpenerWala (SBOW) has enjoyed good reviews from patrons and critics alike. Whether it is the décor — complete with a make-believe family tree of Rustom SodaBottleOpenerWala (the Parsi mascot who appears on plates, coasters and stirrers) — or the menu, that includes favourites like mutton dhansak, akuri and the popular Berry Pulao, everything has a quintessentially Parsi stamp on it.
With its latest outlet in Mumbai (fifth, after Gurgaon, Delhi, Hyderabad and Bangalore), SBOW is paying an homage to the legacy of Irani cafes. And to accomplish this mission, restaurateur AD Singh and his team have picked two young Parsi chefs — Anahita Dhondy and Darius Madon. “SBOW is Britannia, but in 2015,” says Dhondy (25), its chef manager who overlooks the Delhi and Gurgaon outlets. Like the Irani cafes of Mumbai that mushroomed in the business districts of south Mumbai, mostly to provide a quick bite to businessmen and traders, SBOW wants to fill that void for the office-goers in Bandra-Kurla Complex. “We want to be your neighbourhood pub for post-work drinks or a café for a meal between work,” says Madon (30), who helms the kitchen at the new outlet.
Inspired by the sights and sounds of the city, SBOW reflects all the charms and idiosyncrasies the community is known for. Sabina Singh (AD’s wife) and architect Clement DeSylva have managed to capture the eccentricity of an Irani café through the signature blackboards that read out the “Rules of the establishment” like ‘No Laughing Loudly. No Singing. No Childish Tantrums. No Talking to Cashier’. The white and red checkered tablecloth and other paraphernalia such as the brass tea kettles, metal locks, glass jars filled with nankhatai and cuckoo clocks give the space an authentic look.
Interestingly, both the chefs are products of the Institute of Hotel Management (IHM), Aurangabad, just six years apart. While Madon is a pukka Parsi from Mumbai — home to the largest Parsi community in the world, Dhondy grew up in Delhi among a predominantly Punjabi neighbourhood. “In school, me and my brother were the only Parsis. I had to show my sadra and kashti (sacred vest and thread) to my friends to make them understand what it means to be a Parsi,” she says.
Rituals and customs apart, SBOW has been her biggest identity. “In Delhi, I have people coming in and take
pictures with me standing next to them. Sometimes, I feel like an animal in a zoo,” adds Dhondy. Thankfully, for Madon, such instances would be a rarity at the Mumbai outlet. For him, SBOW is a way of portraying his love for Parsi food.
Ode to the original
“The menu here is inspired by the Iranis of the city. A lot of research went into perfecting the recipes that are our take on popular dishes like the dhansak and prawn patio. The dhansak recipe is my great grandmother’s,” says Dhondy. In fact, the Dhansak masala used at all the outlets, too, comes from her home, perfected over a hundred years. Her training in the cuisine began in her mother’s kitchen. For the last 25 years, she has been catering to small events in Delhi. “Earlier, the only way to eat Parsi food in Delhi was at someone’s home. With SBOW, we want to take it to more people,” adds Dhondy.
At the Mumbai outlet, Madon — who has had stints with Taj SATS, ITC Group of Hotels and The Sassy Spoon — will be adding his influences to the menu. “We are also trying to portray Mumbai’s street food that has been picked up through extensive research. For instance, popular street fare like the Bhindi Bazaar Seekh Parantha and Vada Pav will be on the menu too,” he says. We’ve also heard that the team plans to add dishes like Chicken Sanju Baba from Noor Mohammadi to the menu.
Keema Baida Roti at SBOW
The old world décor and nostalgia-evoking food aside, SBOW’s success can also be attributed to its timing. When it opened the first outlet, regional food was undergoing a major revival. Right from restaurants to pubs, menus had begun celebrating food from north, east, west and south. “Right now the craze for regional food is at its peak. When we first opened, I remember going from one table to another explaining the dishes. Now people come in knowing that dhansak is popular,” says Dhondy.
This is a good sign for a cuisine which — unlike others — have fewer crusaders fighting for its cause. “We have lost so many of our recipes. I remember my aunt used to make this brinjal and apple chutney and I kept asking her for the recipe. But she passed away without giving it to me,” says Dhondy. Madon recounts how an old family friend — a 90-year old Parsi lady — is the only person who knows how to make stuffed kheema bread. However, she has no means of passing the recipe on as she cannot read or write. “Unfortunately, that recipe is going to die with her,” he says.
With SBOW, Dhondy and Madon are striving to revive recipes that are on the verge of extinction. “We are like a ticking time bomb,” says Dhondy about the community. “I think we will go before the tigers,” adds Madon in jest. Food and humour are two things that make Parsis such a fun community. So, what would the chefs recommend we try from the menu? “I love the Kolmi fry. It is a succulent piece of prawn wrapped in a kanda bhajji,” says Madon. However, we would be curious to know if the Parsis in the city approve of its dhansak.
What: SodaBottleOpenerWala, The Capital Building, Bandra-Kurla Complex, Bandra (E)
Call: 4003 5678
Timings: 12 noon to 1am.
Average meal for two: Rs 1,000
Mehernosh Daroowalla and his team were proud to cater the lunch for the inauguration.
Originally from Mumbai, India, Mehernosh has a business background and a passion for the food business. Mehernosh opened his first restaurant, India On The Hudson, quickly followed by Karma Kafe, both located in Hoboken, NJ and known for specializing in regional Indian cuisine.
Mehernosh began experimenting with authentic Parsi Cuisine for small gatherings and catering. Word spread and he became the caterer for many Parsi functions and ZAGNY events.
This is part 2 of Parsi Cuisine at Inaugural Event at the Dar-E-Mehr in Pomona, NY Series.
In Udvada stands the Atash Behram (entrance of which is pictured above), the oldest and the holiest fire temple and is a pilgrimage site. Due to its proximity from Mumbai, the city that houses the largest number of Parsis in the world, Udvada welcomes several Parsi pilgrims almost every weekend. It is this fire temple that drives the economy of Udvada.
How to reach Udvada
The easiest way to reach Udvada is by road. Udvada is about 200 km from Mumbai along the well-maintained National Highway 8. We drove down in Maruti Celerio‘s new automatic gear shift model and reached Udvada in about three hours. With its classic ‘Maruti mileage’ the entire journey was easily completed on a full tank.
Udvada is also connected by rail. As many as six trains depart from the western railways Mumbai Central station and stop at Udvada. That journey will take you about two-and-a-half hours and will require you to take an auto rickshaw from the station to Udvada.
Where to eat en route Udvada
Two of the best places to eat along the NH8 stand next to each other and are on the right hand side of the road when you’re heading to Udvada. So you’ll need to turn around and drive back a kilometer or two to access Parsi da Dhaba (+91-88062-79379) and Dairy Land Parsi Dairy (+91-80079-62862). Both these outlets offer the best of Parsi cuisine outside of Udvada.
At both places, stick to ordering Parsi specialty dishes — from salli-boti to dhansakh daland salli-par-eedu to patra-ni-machchi — but when at Dairy Land, also consider theirpaneer pakoda and batata vadas.
What to do in Udvada
1. Photograph the large and beautiful houses that go back over a hundred years
2. Get lost in the narrow lanes of the town
3. Hit the beach in the evening
4. Savour Parsi cuisine
In very many ways, Udvada is like any other pilgrim site. The economy revolves around a temple and nothing else happens here. But the town offers fascinating insights into the life of the small and dying community (the Tatas and Godrejs are two of the most prominent names that come to mind) that has contributed a great deal to the progress of the nation. Note that the fire temple can be accessed only by Zoroastrians but the town and its businesses remain open to all.
Indeed Udvada is not your stereotypical weekend destination: there’s nothing to do per se. But if history and architecture interests you, you can spend hours in Udvada photographing large homes that date back to the 19th century. What Udvada also offers is some great lip-smacking food and a slice of Parsi culture.
Udvada also has a pretty beach. When you are done photographing and being in awe of the spectacular architecture that has stood the test of time head to the beach and watch the sunset.
Where to stay and eat in Udvada:
Ashishwan Hotel (+91-99255-58138) and Globe Hotel (0260-2345243) are the traditional favorites.
Don’t get fooled by their plain exteriors, they offer everything from dormitories to air-conditioned rooms. Ashishwan will put you back by about Rs 2,000 per night while Globe will cost you about Rs 2500 or so. Note that the tariff includes ALL meals!
Menus at these hotels change at the whim of the chef but fried boi (deep friend mullet),machhi ni curry (fish curry), bheja cutlets, roast chicken and mutton pulao dal are some of the specialties of the community and both the hotels make them very well. Since you are eating Parsi style, don’t forget to order a bottle of Raspberry soda and wind down the meal with a scoop or three of handmade sancha ice cream. Dudh na puff, which is basically chilled milk froth topped with nutmeg and cinnamon and is served by local vendors who chill it in an earthen pot overnight, is yet another Parsi specialty that you simply cannot miss. Note that this is best had in the mornings and goes perfectly with your breakfast of akuri on toast!
On your way out of Udvada head to the market opposite the Atash Behram for some fresh mint leaves and tea leaves (key ingredients in Parsi chai), hand-rolled dry papadsand pickles EF Kolah, a prominent but local Parsi food brand. Hormuzd Bakery offers delightful mawa cakes and batasas, nankhatais and khari that will melt in your mouth. Pack them all!
Home to some of the most prominent families that shaped not just India’s history but also its economy, Navsari today is a town that is trying to hold on to its once-glorious past even as it attempts to find its place in the future of an ever-changing India. Here, Subway and Dominos franchisees jostle with local Neera shops and Kolah outlets and multi-storied glass façade buildings stand out in stark contrast to quaint traditional Parsi homes. Even so, Navsari retains much of its traditional charm.
How to reach Navsari
Navsari is about 75 km to the north of Udvada and it takes a little over an hour-and-a-half to reach. Several public transport buses connect the two towns. We discovered that our ever-reliable Celerio was good car of choice for the trip as it helped us negotiate Navsari’s particularly narrow and crowded roads.
What to do in Navsari
1. Visit the First Dastoor Meherjirana Library (pictured above)
2. Drop by at the homes-turned-museums of Jamsetji Tata and Jamsetjee Jeejeebhoy
3. Cool off with Kohla’s Rose Falooda
As is the case with Udvada, there isn’t a lot to ‘do’ in Navsari either and your sole reason to visit it should be the First Dastoor Meherjirana Library and the homes-turned-museums of Jamsetji Tata and Jamsetjee Jeejeebhoy.
The construction of the building of the First Dastoor Meherjirana Library was commissioned back in 1872 with the donation of Rs 225 by a wealthy Parsi called Navsariwala Seth Burjor Bamanji Padam. Named after one Meherji Rana, who explained the Zoroastrian religion to Akbar during a special audience with the emperor, the library building harks back to an era when life was simpler and people took great pains to pay attention to the minutest detail.
Apart from an extensive collection of immaculately preserved manuscripts (one of which is pictured above), the library’s greatest possession is the Mughal firman that granted land to Meherji Rana that has been signed by the legendary Mughal chronicler Abu’l Fazl himself! (Sadly, the weekend we travelled to Navsari, the firman had been transported to New Delhi for an exhibition.) The trustee, Behzad Suraliwala, maintains regular office hours and is a reliable source of information about the library and its history.
Just a few steps away from the library is this majestic fire temple (pictured below).
Indeed there are several buildings consecrated to Zoroastrianism and if you are someone who’s interested in learning about a new culture that’s very much part of India’s tapestry, you’ll find yourself being lost in the lanes of Navsari.
The homes of Sir Jamsetjee Jeejeebhoy and Sir Jamshedjee Tata are the other two must-visit places in Navsari. Both the homes are similar in structures and very much in the same neighborhood. Both the homes are now run as museums by family trusts and offer a fascinating insight into the humble beginnings of the men who went on to define the history of an emerging nation. Note that both these museums are closed between 1pm and 3pm and while you will most likely be guided by a Good Samaritan present there, do not expect any expert insights.
Where to stay in Navsari
Royal Regency (Juna Thana, Opp Seth RJJ High School, Navsari, +91-97275-20000) is arguably the best hotel in Navsari and will set you back by at least Rs 1500 per night.
If, however, you are looking for a local touch, Deboo House Homestay (Agiary Street, Navsari) is the place to camp at. Set in a sprawling bungalow, Deboo House (pictured above) offers large well-ventilated rooms with four poster beds that take you right back in time. A room in Deboo House will cost you anywhere between Rs 2,000 to Rs 2500 per night. They also let out the entire house on rent for as little as Rs 8,000 to Rs 10,000 per night. The entire house can accommodate up to 25 people.
Where to eat in Navsari
Unlike in Udvada, Navsari has almost no Parsi restaurants. While the best Parsi food is indeed cooked in homes, a restaurant, simply called The Parsi Food (Mahavir Society, Navsari +91-98980-57973) located on the outskirts of Navsari serves a pretty mean fare.
Cheragsam Gandhi (02637-240131), the caretaker of Sohrab Baug, a wedding venue about 50 ft south west of the Atash Behram, also serves meals but you will have to call a day in advance to place the order.
No trip to Navsari can be complete without a trip to Yazdan Cold Drink House (Mota Bazaar, Navsari, 02637-231577). Owned by the Kolahs, the tiny shop is almost always crowded and serves its trademark faloodas and ice cream. They also sell flavored concentrates. Our recommendations: try rose, raspberry and mango.
Despite their proximity to Mumbai, Udvada and Navsari remain largely unexplored by non-Parsis. If it’s ‘off-beat’ you’re looking for, head down the NH8 and these two little hidden gems might just surprise you.
Inauguration of the Dar-E-Mehr in Pomona, NY. The food served was delicious and one of the delicacies was Sheroo’s Malido.
Malido Sales from 2013 – 2016 and for this event are an on-going fundraising effort by Sheroo that speaks of the dedication and loyalty of the Kanga family.
Fresh Malido Trays were made by Sheroo for over 600 people. That in itself is a record!. Having made Malido myself for our local ZAGBA association for a modest 60 people crowd, I know what is involved and how much work it takes! Kudos to Sheroo for doing this.
Some words from Sheroo Kanga on how and why she started to make the malido:
“After coming to the US in 1975, I missed the ceremonies of the muktad days. Most of my family members, (me being the youngest sibling) passed away after I came to the US and unfortunately, I was not able to attend the muktad prayers for my dear ones. Therefore, (somewhere between 1996 and 1999) when ZAGNY (Zoroastrian Association of Greater New York) started the muktad prayers, I was very happy. Fortunately for me, I was also on the ZAGNY Board as Joint Secretary at that time. This gave me the ideal opportunity to get very involved in organizing and arranging the muktad prayers each year. The gathas were also being recited at other four homes within our tri-state area, so people who lived far from the Dar-e-Mehr got a chance to attend the prayers closer to home.
This is when I started to learn how to make malido and after getting the right recipe, from late Mrs. Nergis Adi Unwalla’ s cookbook “An Adventure in Exotic Parsi Indian Cooking by Nergis Karanjia and Nergis Unwalla. I took time to perfect it. Ever since then, till to date, I have been making malido and donating it to the hosts families and for the prayers at the Dar-e-Mehr. Sometimes, if asked, I also cater it for congregation lunches, as I did for the Inaugural Day.”
Sheroo Vispi Kanga lives in New Jersey with her husband Vispi Dorab Kanga. They are both very active in ZAGNY (Zoroastrian association of Greater New York) and both have served several three year terms on the ZAGNY Board of Directors, in different capacities, since 1980. Sheroo very actively participated in the fund raising efforts for the newly inaugurated Dar-E-Mehr building, to serve the needs of the Zoroastrians in the Tri-State area.
|Udvada Where The Fires Are Always Burning
The holy town of Udvada is where the sacred fire of the Iranshah Atashbehram is burning since Zoroastrians came to India, writes CYRUS H. MERCHANT. And outside, in small Parsi homes and a lonely bakery, a different kind of fire burns, keeping the community’s cuisine alive, says MARK MANUEL.
|The 20th day of the Zoroastrian calendar is not just another day, but a date with Victory. For, it belongs to the angel Behram Yazata who presides over triumph, success, and victory of all and any sort. Small wonder then that this day sees more bent knees and lowered heads, petitions and pleas… and more than anything, kept promises to Iranshah, as there is little else that beats the Heaven and Earth combo of Behram and Iranshah; McParadise indeed!
Passed down to a generation of us from folklore and the folds of our grannies’ sarees, Behram roj and Udvada together signal the arrival of good times, changing times, a turn in a devotee’s tide. All through the month you pray around this landmark day, a crescendo of wishes or one single wish which if Behram, favours clashes with cymbals within the keblah room as a bell is rung ten powerful times. So auspicious is this day that there are more Behrams in the community than there are, say, Cyruses.
There are regular Behram Roj-Iranshah goers, so regular in fact that legend has it that the railway tacks leading to the coastal town of Gujarat are familiar with their names. The pathway to good fortune indeed is a familiar friend to those seeking it.
For over 20, 25 years they go every single Behram Roj, not a roj is missed. I know them by face, name even, but some part of piety is pricked when the privacy of a worshipper is invaded. They have their train pass, their pudhina-chai flask, their faith. Armed with these three and little else, they board at 5.40. Mostly from Bombay Central, full of vim even at that hour, eagerly awaiting Dinshaw from Dadar Parsi Colony to join them in ten minutes at the next stop. Some doze through the ride, many pray, most eat.
There is something about Parsis and food; even on a pilgrimage. The pora (sorry, omelette is no substitute for the onomatopoeic rendition of this word), the akuri sandwich, the baffela ida (boiled eggs), the appetite! Compartments resemble Cusrow Baug, as throngs make the journey to what Nairyosangh Dhaval established as the most anointed fire in the world. One that takes within it’s golden flames all the lusts, longing and unspoken shadows of the human mind and heart. The Fire that burns, also cleanses.
More than Behram Roj, on Adar Mahino Adar Roj (which is the jashan day of Fire and the birth anniversary of the miraculous Iranshah), and on the biggest calendar day of November 24th, additional trains, a genial legacy of the late Homi Taleyarkhan, carry these faithful and their breakfasts. A quick shower and off we go into the sanctum sanctorum. From next door’s Globe Hotel and around the globe, they come for even an hour in front of the King Of Fires.
On Behram Roj there is little standing place while the Machi is being performed, chants of Behram Yashts and litanies to Ama Yazata the co-angel of Courage, tan-dorastis, a golden Fire leaping and reaching out to the angels above. It is mesmerising. The evening Aiwsiruthrem Geh even more beautiful as it allows no electricity (quite like Boyce Agiary, Tardeo, Bombay), there are only burning divos and the Iranshah.
Never mind if a prayer is answered or not, but on Behram Roj in Iranshah, a heart finds its peace, a lover, it’s beloved and a dreamer his or her dream. You are renewed. Refreshed and you trouble trouble with prayer!
Troubles, like a mistress that haunted you just because you spent some time with her, are finally discarded. All evil is eliminated, as you raise the special Udvada garland of pink roses and white (I-don’t-know-their-name) flowers.
You can’t beat the magic of this day, the memories associated with it. Of love and family and rare togetherness. Fanta bottles, mothers in garas, children running around on the red carpet in their frills and whites, the elderly bent into the blue Avesta books, good-looking young boys in jeans keeping the Parsi gene alive, pretty girls with scarves tied across their faces like Italian maidens on breezing Lambrettas, the NRI Parsis so easily distinguishable with their accents and flow of philanthropy. But above all, you see people with faith. Eyes with faith. Yes, it will be done, Behram Yazad and Iranshah will do it for us, they have done it for countless before. More than the perfume of sandalwood, you smell Faith.
Hope. Peace. For anyone who erroneously believes that the community is dying, you need to be in Udvada on Behram Roj.
Having fed the soul, you return to your Ratanshah Katila Lodge, amidst gleaming trees in the monsoon and easily the prettiest place to stay in Udvada, you call for the boi and the rickshawallah (who knows every visiting Katy and the prowess of her haggling) and you head back home, always but always by the 3 o’clock train. And turning right towards the walls of the Atash Behram in an ancient symbolic gesture of returning, with eye and heart gazing at the calendar you wait for another calling, on another Behram Roj because like Life, like Iranshah, somethings just have a date with destiny.
The more things remain the same, the more they change. Yes you are alarmed, yes you are worried, yes you feel regret and an ineffable sadness and wonder what will happen to your community, your religion. Then on this day, or any other day, you go to Iranshah and you look and you see and you feel, that all is not lost as yet, that in some recess of every mind is a loyal seed waiting to sprout under the splendour and strength of Behram. That like the Gujarat Mail that no matter how late, comes to it’s platform, the lost will return home… to a waiting Father who knows that as far as bad times go, always is not forever.
– Cyrus Merchant
I was on my way out of Udvada. But the aroma of biscuits in the oven and a faint wisp of smoke rising from the chimney over the bungalow led me to Jahanbux’s bakery. From outside, it looks like any other Parsi residence in the old township. A house that is falling apart. “Is this a bakery,” I asked him disbelievingly, looking at the ancient furniture lying about the place. Jahanbux wiped the flour off his hands onto a dirty apron around his waist and led me out into the sunshine. “Look,” he said proudly. I looked. An old signboard dangled from a pillar. ‘Hormuzd Bakery,’ it said.
The bakery was started on this premises in 1931 by his grandfather, Hormuzdji Nasserwanji. Jahanbux’s father, Marzaban, continued the business. And now he seems resigned to the fact that it will die with him. The next generation, his son Eric, is not keen on running a bakery. So Jahanbux, who learnt baking and confectionery from his father, slogs here himself from morning to night. He opens at 6 a.m. and shuts at 8 p.m. And he bakes biscuits, Khari biscuits, Bhakras fermented in toddy and mawa cakes as well. But not bread. I watched him at work. A dusty old man in a dusty old bakery, fuelling his fires with wood, waiting for his first customers that morning.
I have mixed feelings about Udvada. The previous evening, I had walked around the holy town, trying to figure out where the young Parsi boys and girls go on Saturday night. Forty-five minutes later, and that’s all the time it takes to explore this tiny coastal village, I had the answer. Firstly, there are no young people in Udvada. Secondly, there is nowhere to go. No pubs and discotheques, no restaurants even. There is nothing for entertainment in Udvada. No nightlife. Or life after sunset. And there are no people to entertain. Only ancient Parsis who sit in the verandahs and stand by the windows of their whitewashed mansions, waiting for the sun to set on the Iranshah in whose shadows they live the sunsets of their own lives.
As the Vatican City is to Catholics, so might Udvada be to the Zoroastrians, but what a sorry state it has become. Neglect has ruined its charm, a lack of money and soul has reduced it to a pilgrim centre the Parsis visit only occasionally in a year. The old houses are falling apart. Some have been sold, others pulled down and replaced by modern structures that look incongruous in the old township with their modern, indifferent architecture. Nobody wants to stay in Udvada anymore. Except the old and original residents who have nowhere else to go.
They are quaint people with an old world charm and a curiosity borne out of loneliness. Their children have left them to go to colleges in cities and jobs abroad. And now their children and their grandchildren come visiting Udvada like the rest of the Parsis do, on an annual pilgrimage. Very sad. Farzana Contractor, Meher Heroyce Moos and I walked through the Udvada village around the Iranshah that Saturday evening, our hearts making for our shoes, as we took the twists and turns of the narrow lanes and got our first real experience of old age and loneliness.
Hearing our footsteps on the quiet streets, hearing the growl of our car engine and the clanking of changing gears, the old residents in the ghostly village hobbled to their perches by the verandahs and windows to see what fresh breath of life the evening might have brought. That was all the life we encountered in Udvada at 5 o’clock on Saturday evening. No sounds came out of the mansions. No music played on old gramophones. No television sets blared in living rooms. No aromas of Parsi cooking wafted through open kitchen windows. No news from the radio. Nothing but the sounds of silence. As we drove away, we saw malnourished cows and scavenging dogs feeding out of garbage dumps.
But, next morning, what a transformation. Udvada village was bustling with the hurly-burly of activity and life. Buses and autorickshaws drew up and unloaded dozens of Parsis all headed for the hotels and a bath, and then the Iranshah. The marketplace sported a new look. Inside, fisherwomen haggled with Parsi housewives over the price of mullet. This is the Parsi fish boi. It costs Rs. 60 a kilo and in that, you get ten to 12 fish. Later, for lunch, it would be cooked in tangy curries and pan-fried after being dusted with rava. And the butcher in the meat shop saved the offal, the liver, kidneys, heart and gizzard of his produce for special customers who might use them in the Aleti-Paleti at home.
In the village, small windows opened up in homes, and little old men and women popped out to sell sandalwood and home-made sweets, biscuits and other goodies. Some enterprising couples, like Zarine and Pervez Unwala, convert the front portions on their homes into fast food joints and snack bars. Others, like Behram Maneckshaw Fitter sell pickles, sweets and biscuits made by the widows of Navsari outside the gates of the Minocher N. Pundole Adran-e-Iranshah, a fire temple which stands in the shadows of the Atashbehram itself. And in the lane outside the Iranshah, small shops selling prayer caps and holy books and a timetable on the wall announcing the trains to Bombay.
There are Parsi families from Bombay, Pune and neighbouring cities that have homes in Udvada that they come to over the weekend for a holiday. Like Jimmy and Sarosh Panthaki and Aspi and Shernaz Marker. They drive over on a Saturday, have lunch at one of the Parsi hotels in Udvada, like the Ashishvang Hotel, Mek Hotel or Globe Hotel, where the menu is always Boi and Dhansak supplemented by toddy, they spend the evening at the beach and do dinner at Daman which is 20 kilometres away. Sunday mornings, they visit the Iranshah, have lunch and then depart for home.
And what they like about their little weekends is the ice-cream man who comes around selling home-made, hand-churned, sancha ice-cream in fruit flavours. For Rs. 10, you get three large, generous scoops. Likewise, there is a lady from Udvada village who in the winter months comes with the Parsi Doodh Puff. A little sweetened milk is kept in an earthen pot covered by cloth on the terrace at night. Early morning, it is collected heavy with dew and whipped to make a light, airy, cloud-like puff. This is settled onto a glass of chilled, sweetened milk that has been garnished with cardamom, nutmeg and little almond. It is the kind of taste you will not get anywhere else in the world because few people would take the time to make this kind of delicacy.
Played and sung by Zane Commissariat.
Dhansak in the Night . . . . .
[Sing to the tune of – ‘Strangers in the Night’]
Curry-ma kolmi . . . mothi-mothi
Then everything is all right . . . .
When there’s dhansak in the night.
Kanda Papeta per eedu *
Nashta per dahi sev ‘nay elchi keru
But everything will be all right . . . .
When there’s dhansak in the ni-i-i-i-i-ght
A Parsi peg or two
With chicken farcha will do
Papata ma gosh, ‘nay some Irani oosh
But everything will be all right . . . .
When there’s dhansak in the ni-i-i-i-i-ght
Masoor pau is nice
With doodhi-gosht ‘nay rice
Charvelu eedu, Maiji-e maakhan ma kidhu
Pun, daru pi ne tight – bawaji feels all right
When there’s dhansak in the ni-i-i-i-i-i-i-ght!
It all started when, much to the amusement of his family’s maids and cooks, Mumbai-born Jehangir took an interest in the goings-on of the kitchen. After he voiced a desire to pursue a career in the culinary arts, Jehangir’s family put their full support behind him and sent him to the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York. Jehangir thrived at the CIA with the foundation he acquired at the Institute of Hotel Management, Catering, Technology and Applied Nutrition in Mumbai.
After his first job at L’Absinthe in New York in 1996, he landed a position he truly longed for at Typhoon Brewery, where he worked as the pastry chef to the brilliant James Chew of Vong fame. From there it was a short yet logical jump to Jean-Georges in 1997. The following year, Jean-Georges Vongerichten selected him to open his new restaurant, Mercer Kitchen, quickly to become one of the hottest destinations in New York. Desiring a change of pace from the high volume of Mercer Kitchen, Jehangir accepted a position to work with Rocco di Spirito 1999 at Union Pacific, and in 2001 he joined Jean– Georges colleague Didier Virot who was opening his own restaurant. Following a short-lived but highly acclaimed run at Virot, Jehangir solidified his reputation for creating unorthodox, intellectually driven desserts as pastry chef of Compass. During this time, he extended his partnership with Didier Virot, and in 2002 opened the Upper West Side culinary destination Aix.
In 2003, Jehangir started his event management business through an online site partistry.com. The same year he started Candy Camp to encourage children aged between 4 and 14 to appreciate the complex ingredients in food, by preparing simple savory and sweet dishes. In 2007, Jehangir opened his restaurant Graffiti, quite simply an extension of the man and his mission, and released his first Cookbook: (Harper-Collins).
Mantra the Rules of Indulgence
At his restaurant Graffiti, Jehangir gets to present food that is nothing short of inspiring. From his 50 square foot kitchen he produces some of New York’s most exciting dishes, which have been featured in not only traditional food magazines but also Vogue, and the New Yorker. Over the years, Jehangir has been seen on many national television programs including Martha! and on the Food Network.
In August 2009, Jehangir was a contestant on Iron Chef America where he competed against Iron Chef Morimoto in “Battle Coconut,”and beginning October 4th 2009 Jehangir will be a contestant on the Food Network’s The Next Iron Chef.
Jehangir’s cultural heritage fills him with endless inspiration, including Ayurveda, and his favorite ingredients, fruits and spices. Now it is only left to his imagination as to what he will conquer next.
Asian Ingredients + French/American Cuisine = Small Plates
Located in the heart of the East Village in NYC, Graffiti Food & Wine Bar offers a vibrant downtown vibe with the casual elegance of upscale dining. The Next Iron Chef 2010 Runner-up Chef/Owner Jehangir Mehta has pushed palates – with this sweet & savory shoeboxed size restaurant which he designed himself. Serving up eclectic international small plates that feature his trademark affinity for bold flavors and spices, Chef Mehta uses the harmony of Asian ingredients with French/American cuisine to make Graffiti a truly unique dining paradise.
224 East 10th Street, NYC 10003
Reservations : 212.677.0695
Email : firstname.lastname@example.org
New York’s ice-cream wars have really ramped up in recent years, spurred on by a bevy of excellent new shops and stakes-raising creations like the black-and-white-cookie ice-cream sandwich and, uh, Kanye West Ice Cream Week. The latest contestant in this frozen-treat frenzy isn’t even ice cream as Americans understand it, but is instead the ultradense kulfi. New York is certainly no stranger to this classic Indian treat, which can be easily found in the freezer aisles of Indian grocers in Queens and at restaurants like Junoon and Tamarind. But the cardamom and pistachio version being made at the recently opened Babu Ji, which comes to Alphabet City by way of Melbourne, is the one you’ll want to make your regular fix this summer.
“We have such a long summer, days with 100 percent humidity, and having no proper electricity, kulfi is the only thing that cools you down in the afternoon,” Jessi Singh, the restaurant’s chef and co-owner alongside his wife, Jennifer, says. “That’s what mom or grandma makes for you to cheer you up.”
Nostalgia is all well and good, but what makes Singh’s kulfi so impressive is the time he invests into doing it right. The whole process takes up almost an entire day, beginning with the cooking of the milk base, to which the cardamom, pistachio, and honey are added. This alone takes five to six hours — kulfi is traditionally made with fattier buffalo’s milk, so Singh needs to cook the cow milk he uses longer to get the right creaminess — and involves constant stirring. Afterwards, the milk is brought down to room temperature and frozen for 12 hours in traditional metal molds that Singh smuggles back from India.
What comes out of the freezer has a texture more like chewy mochi than silky soft-serve. It’s smooth and uniformly dense, intensely creamy and aromatic, the kind of ice cream that you can actually bite into. When you finally, regretfully, get to that last bite, you’ll find a ring of cardamom and pistachio — something delightfully, if unintentionally, reminiscent of that summertime classic, the King Cone. There’s only one flavor available right now, but eventually Singh plans to offer a clove-and-ginger-charged chai and, longer down the line, local fruit flavors.
Grated deep fried potatoes topped with eggs, sunny side up. An easy to make Parsi breakfast dish.
- 3 eggs2 tsp olive oil4 Tbsp Sali (Sali is available in the market or you can make these at home by deep frying partially boiled grated potatoes.)
Salt and pepper, to taste
Now deep fry them twice and add salt and pepper.
Heat oil in a pan and spread the sali.
Break the eggs on top and cook it in a salamander grill for 3 minutes.
Serve with baked beans and toast.