We take a look at some popular Parsi winter warmers that’ll help you tide over the winter chill.
How do Parsis stave off the winter blues? There’s a whole range of wholesome foods, prepared during winters that promise to prime your immune system and your taste buds.
When the mists of winter sweep into the city, steaming bowls of Kharia start gracing Parsi tables. Kharia is an unctuous stew prepared from kid’s trotters with chora – black eyed peas, cooked over a fire for several hours until the meat is meltingly soft. You will know the dish is complete when the gravy thickens and a layer of oil struggles to the top. It’s eaten in winter because of its richness and intense spices and is usually paired with gor amli kachumber – tangy chutney made with tamarind and jaggery.
Parsis also make a breakfast relish, Kharia Ni Jelly, using trotter stew, eggs and spices. It is said that you are a good cook if you can make a perfectly clear trotter jelly. (Kharia recipe is in our cookbook)
Available at: Kharia is supplied by caterers Aban Pardiwalla at Peddar Road (30978456) priced at Rs 1,200 for 12 trotters and Zinobia Schroff at Mancherji Joshi Road (9869914472) at Rs 225 per plate. Zinobia also makes Kharia Jelly available for Rs 80 per bowl.
Kanji – a porridge like drink made with full cream milk, crushed almonds, pistachios and watermelon seeds is something Parsis drink for strength, usually in winters. Dried water chestnut or cream of wheat is usually added to Make Singhora Ni Kanji and Gehun Na Doodh Ni Kanji respectively. The kanji is an acquired taste, “drink and get strong! Do not think of the calories,” writes Bhicoo Manekshaw in her seminal book, Parsi Food and Customs.
Available At: The premade powder mix can be bought from Motilal Masalawala at Grant Road (23851144 ) priced at Rs 70 for 100 gms (Singhora Ni Kanji) and Rs 250 for a kg (Gehun Na Doodh Ni Kanji).
Parsis love eggs so much that they even have a fudge like sweetmeat Eeda Pak which tastes almost like sheeraor halwa. The dish is made with eggs (Katy Dalal’s recipe calls for fifty eggs!), nuts, a long list of assorted jari booti (herbs), doused in ghee. This dish is definitely not for the faint-hearted, thanks to the amount of eggs and ghee that goes into making it.
Available At: Belgaum Gheewala at Nana Chowk (23887746 / 23820837) priced at Rs 225/kg.
Vasanu (Click here for our recipe)
Similar to Eeda Pak, Vasanu too is a wintry fortifier. The dish is made with ghee, seeds, dried fruits, nuts, lentils, resins, lotus roots and an obscure herb powder called katlu batrisu. The dish gets its pungency and heat from ginger. This is a dish with ample ingredients, made on a daunting scale; everything is individually prepared and fried, the nuts are boiled and peeled, all is crushed, stirred into thick sugar syrup, then cooled until solid.
Eeda Pak and Vasanu were traditionally made in every house in Gujarat to keep the cold at bay. Buy some, break off a piece and nibble it with your morning tea or a glass of milk.
- Belgaum Gheewala, priced at Rs 200 for 250 gms.
- Click here to order Vasanu from Dilly Umrigar
Doodh Na Puff
On chilly Sunday mornings, Parsis wake up to the delectably – named Doodh Na Puff. Thick, sweet milk is boiled in the evening and left to cool in the garden (or the fridge). The next morning, the dew-laden cream which rises to the top is stirred (in one direction) and whipped until a frothy cloud forms. The froth is then scooped into glasses and eaten.
Available At: Most puffwalas make the rounds of Parsi colonies early in the morning, but call Jagannath Mane (9096769142) and it will be delivered to you at home for Rs 35/puff.
Surti levra weaves together threads from both Parsi and Gujarati culinary cultures. It is a hard, sweet, barrel-shaped snack. The toffee like dish is made of clove-laden sugar that has been boiled, cooled and crusted with white sesame seeds.
Available At: Motilal Masalawala at Rs 45 for 200 gms.
Apart from these, there’s Gor Papri – chikki essentially made of jaggery and soonth (dried ginger powder), sometimes embellished with nuts and Moodi – made with head, brain, tongue, ears of a sheep. But both these dishes are mostly made at Parsi homes so best way to eat them is to get invited for a Parsi meal this season.
About Meher Mirza
Food and travel writer. Obsessed with art, animals, anime and academia. Hates heels and sunshine. Follow Meher on Twitter @MeherM