21 July, 2014
There’s a lot more to Parsi cuisine than ‘Dhansak’
Out of the few foods that do not find a place in Hyderabad’s rich culinary landscape, Parsi cuisine is the most missed. Despite being home to a small Parsi community, the city is yet to have a place to drop in to for a sumptuous meal of Dhansak and caremelised brown rice with a dollop of butter. Those who are craving the hot and sweet flavours that the cuisine is known for and even those who have not yet gotten the chance to try this unique cuisine that has its origins in Persia can head to Firdaus at Taj Krishna where Chef Nitin along with specialty Chef Manoj Vyas from Taj Mahal Palace Mumbai have put together a fitting spread. Chef Manoj Vyas, though a Gujarati himself, has years of experience catering for Parsi functions and working in the kitchens of the Taj Mahal Palace Mumbai.
Much like Hyderabadi food, Parsi cuisine includes a lot of rice, lentils, meat and a generous use of spice. Dhansak, a curry made from lamb cooked with lentils and vegetables is arguably the most popular of Parsi dishes. Ironically, Dhansak is also associated with the fourth day of mourning and not usually made on any auspicious days. But the Parsi kitchen has much more to boast of, so the festival will also include dishes like Chicken Farcha, a crisp, deep fried chicken served with a sweet and spicy sauce, and Patra Ni Machhi, marinated Pomfret fish wrapped in a banana leaf and steamed with mint and coriander chutney.
Another factor that sets Parsi food apart is the use of dry fruits to sweeten otherwise spicy dishes. This can be seen in the Sali murghi where chicken is cooked in roast onion and apricot gravy or the Zardaloo gosht, a sweet and spicy mutton curry with apricot. Although the cuisine leans towards meat, chicken and seafood, it also includes a fair amount of vegetarian dishes.
Dhansak can in fact be made sans the mutton and the menu will also include a spicy paneer kebab. But not all the dishes are rich and indulgent – the Pepita pe edu which translates to eggs over potatoes is straight out of a Parsi home kitchen.
However, any resistance to indulging will fail once the desserts are placed on the table.
Finish the meal of with Lagan nu custard an egg custard, much like the popular caramel custard. Those of you who have spent some time in Mumbai or Pune can revisit the charm of old Parsi eateries and those of you who are yet to experience the flavours of the Parsi kitchen should make your reservations for this weekend.