Extracted from the FEZANA Journal –Fall 2013 by Aban Daboo
On March 30th the Arbab Rustam Guiv Darbe Mehr head start, Nergish and ZAC President, Dinaz Weber start. (home of the awesome Zoroastrian Association of Chicago preparing the pastry the day before the Bake-a-thon. ZAC) was buzzing from morning till night with the community.
By 10 a.m. on Saturday, a gang of ZAC ladies and a crew for the Annual Freny Mehta Dar-ni-Pori Bake-a-thon. few brave men trickle into the Darbe-Mehr. From then on The description of this creation as a large round flat cake everyone to their assigned tasks be it making the dough, filled with lentils would not do justice to this delicious whipping up the “maan”, (lard) rolling out the large “rotlis”, aromatic snack.
It all started 28 years ago when (Late) Freny Mehta filling the “dar” or getting the large trays ready for the ovens. Once the assembly line is set up, “Poris” come rolling suggested – “Why don’t we get together and make Dar- out!!.
They are then cooled, packed and delivered to the ni-Pori?” to raise funds for ZAC. A simple question that anxious members. The lunch time break is a traditional round made most of us gasp…”MAKE Dar-ni-Pori???” For people of “masoor’, “papeta-nu-saak”, french bread, etc. which who grew up in Mumbai, you never “made” Dar Ni Pori you keeps the workers happy till “chai” (tea) break when any always bought it from RTI (Ratan Tata Industrial Institute) damaged “Poris” that have failed the quality control panel are whenever you had an urge to eat it, perhaps on “Ava Mahina- consumed with gusto. Fortunately or unfortunately, this year nu Parab”, (special day devoted to Avan, water) or during there were not many damaged “Poris” as we have become wedding festivities .
However, Freny aunty in her soft-spoken experts! Then back to the grind till all the “Poris” are baked voice somehow convinced us that it was do-able and very and packed away. By then it is past dinner time and the possible. To train us in the fine art of making “haute cuisine“ strong and dedicated souls who linger to the end finish we had the guidance of a band of seniors Jaloo Captain, off with “akuri” (spiced scambled eggs) or “”pora” (spiced (late) Tehmina Billimoria, (late) Putlamai Press, (late) Thrity omlette) , or leftover “masoor” (lentils). Dordi, (late) Amymai Elavia, and many more. It is hard to describe the feeling of community and Much to the chagrin of “our super chefs” we were slow camaraderie that happens each year at the bake-a-thon.
You learners for the first two to three years with heaps of broken have to BE THERE to experience this special day. All age and not-so-good Poris that did not pass Freny aunty’s quality groups, from three to sixty plus, have fun sharing, caring, control inspection!!! But over the years we have mastered and just enjoying each other’s company. The most heartening the art of making perfect “Poris” and this year we made a total of 325 “poris” and raised $1,800.
The event of this magnitude needs planning, coordination and dedication. The event starts with Nergish Mehta (Freny Aunty’s daughter-in-law) making phone calls to all who volunteer to confirm their roles in the Bake-a-thon as “dar” makers, grocery shoppers, bakers, packers etc.
To get a experience is to see the kids and young moms getting involved. Amongst the sweet and endearing youngsters were Zarina and Kaizad Sribnick, Aliza Dubash, Sanaya Dukandar, Jennifer Kavina, Rustom Ichaporia,Yazmin Rustomji, Sheroy Gonda and Kazvin Marfatia lending their shoulders to the wheel. Special thanks to Zenobia Mehta Sribnick and her family for making a special trip from New York each year to help out with the Bake-a-thon. \
We have three generations of ZAC families participating. hopefully the tradition will be kept. It was sheer joy to see little Jennifer filling “Dar” with her dainty little hands and making a perfectly rounded “Pori”!. Move over RTI !!
Aban (Dubash) Daboo (parsichef@yahoo. com) lives in the Chicagoland area and is an active member of ZAC. She has her own catering business and owns a restaurant with her husband Aspy in Aurora, Illinois. “
Founder and Owner: Rita Jamshed Kapadia
Parsi Cuisine Cookbooks by Rita Kapadia are available on Amazon.