Parsi food – one of my top three reasons for being a proud Parsi. I cannot get enough of good ol’ Parsi bhonu, inspite of having a fair amount of it at home. Give me my salli par eedu, kababs, and saas ni macchi anyday, over a Michelin star meal! With Parsi New Year just around the corner, the festivities have already begun. My favorite Bawi Bride – home chef extraordinaire, Parsi food pop up organizer, daily lunch Bhonu supplier, and a dear dear friend – has partnered up with the JW Marriott, Sahar to bring us a week long celebration of Bawa Bhonu. Jamva Chalo Ji!
At the JW Cafe – the all day dining space at the swanky JW Sahar – from the 8th to the 18th of August, you’ll have the opportunity to dine on Parsi delicacies in addition to their regular extensive buffet. The Bawi Bride Kitchen brings to the table old classics, secret family recipes, and newer modern interpretations of Parsi cooking that Perzen Patel so painstakingly has compiled and cooked for us. And just like me, if you haven’t received an invite for a Parsi wedding in a long time, checking out the Parsi food festival at JW Sahar may be a good bet. With a rotating menu every night, Perzen promises to mix it up with some old classics, and some unknown dishes that you’d only get to try in a Parsi home. I found some popular Parsi classic dishes on the menu, some of them a personal favorite. Here goes!
Round One: Start off your meal with the syrupy, sweet Raspberry – a drink that will take most Bawas back to celebration time either at weddings or navjotes, where the clink of these bottles mark the onset of a delicious meal. The love of Raspberry is an acquired taste and so many first time drinkers quote that it tastes like ‘cough syrup’, but for me it tastes like childhood. If you’re experimental, up the ante with the pungent Ginger drink – not for the faint hearted.
Round Two: Kababs. Cutlets. Inc. An integral part to a Parsi meal, and my personal favorites – cutlets and kababs are eaten as a side to the main dish, or as a snack. These deep fried balls of meat, potato, bread is every Bawa’s version of food porn. That night I gobbled up some delicious kheema kababs, and potato cheese balls, feeling proud to belong to a community that contributed these calorie laden delicacies to the world.
Round Three: Dhan Dar and Paatio. I hated Dhan Dar or Mora Daal growing up, because I found it bland and tasted like food someone unwell would eat. But then I discovered the magical pairing of the daal with paatio, and my whole world changed. This dal rice combination tastes best with a tangy, spicy tomato and fish based side dish, akin to a dal-chawal-achaar combination. As I gobbled down my Dhan Dar- Paatio with kachubar by the side, I remembered my granmother’s cooking (Read her recipe here). A taste that was familiar, comforting, and so so right!
Round Four: Paatra Ni Macchi. A dish that may be synonymous with popular Parsi cooking around the world, along with Dhansak. You peel off the outer banana leaves, to reveal a plump pomfret sitting in a beautiful green chutney covering. The fragrance of the steamed fish, the sweet spicy chutney taste, the moist fish that falls right off the bone – eating a Paatra Ni Macchi is an experience. One that is loved by every Parsi and non-Parsi alike.
Round Five: Custard. And some Mitthu Monu. The swan song. The perfect end to a perfect meal. The Lagan Nu Custard is not only a staple at Parsi weddings, but also synonymous with Parsi desserts. But in reality there are so many more sweet dishes that the cuisine has to offer – the custard overshadows them all. There is so much joy biting into that caramelized top, soft wobbly center, and tasting the sugar, vanilla and nutmeg. Bawi Bride also whipped up some yummy Kopra Pak – a coconut fudge of sorts – which is an absolute winner.
Here are some more pictures from my meal that night:
I heard stories of Perzen’s grandfather’s kheema kebabs, an heirloom recipe that she would cook with him every Sunday. Her mother-in-law’s kaju chicken recipe which was passed on to her after she got married is on the menu too. And of course, Shirinbai’s cheese eeda na cutlets, named after my paternal grandmother who cooked the dish for me when I was growing up, and ensured that I’d always remain her chubby baby. Each recipe comes with a story to tell. Each dish has a history that precedes. Which is why I enjoy dining with Perzen at the Bawi Bride Kitchen – makes me feel like I’m home! The JW Sahar Parsi Fest was just as comforting, delicious, and certified Bawa! This Bawi highly recommends you go enjoy Parsi food in all it’s glory. Dhansak Khavanu, Dukes Peevanu… Majja Ni Life!
The JW Sahar Parsi Fest is on till the 18th of August at the JW Cafe. More details here. Price – Rs. 1555/- + taxes
Also look out for their Chef’s Table on Parsi New Year, 18th August where an entire wedding feast awaits you. More details here. Price – Rs. 1499/-