I am a Zoroastrian Irani. Which means that the festival of the spring Equinox or Navroze, which marks the onset of the Persian new year is the primary festival celebrated at home. To a lot of people all over the globe Navroze means a lot of things – a time for prayers, a time to be thankful, a time to remember God, a time for celebration. But for me Navroze is incomplete without three things – tradition, food and family.
Resolutions are meant to be broken, they say. Ohh, but not these. This year The Blog and I sat down over a glass of mulled wine and some leftover Christmas cake, and retrospected over the year gone by.
2015 was fabulous in so many ways – met idols from the food industry, worked on some interesting projects, got recognized for all the hard work at IFBA 2015, and even got to shoot for this season of Masterchef India! We decided that 2016 has got to be equally awesome, if not more. The Blog decided it needs to continue writing consistently and churn out interesting posts regularly for you readers. I decided to make some personal changes that will indirectly reflect on The Blog as well. Here are our resolutions, ones that we intend to keep!
Content Is Key:
I am only going to write on topics that I would enjoy reading myself – doesn’t necessarily have to be about food. This year, I hope to churn out posts that are exciting, different, and hold your interest right till you scroll down. I personally enjoyed writing posts like the Open letter to bloggers and My Favourite Foodies more than anything else this year.
Healthy Food Choices:
If there is a resolution I am most afraid of sticking to, it is this! In the past six months I have put on a substantial amount of weight and am now resembling a baby elephant. (It’s a good thing Bee finds baby elephants cute.) I am not going to stop eating out, because then what will I write about, and what will you’ll read? I’ll only try and make healthier choices from the menu, and exercise strict portion control. And talking about exercise….
Cook Regularly. Cook Consistently:
I am such a moody cook. Erratic timings and hectic work schedules do not permit me to enter into the kitchen as much as I used to. This year I vow to cook one new dish a week. Also I need to stop sticking to desserts and try cooking newer cuisines. I am currently on a cook book collecting spree, and if you have any recommendations that I must read kindly comment below. After all if you want to write about food, you need to know how to cook it!
Stick to Writing:
Call me old fashioned, but I think writing on a blog is the true form of blogging. I simply cannot fathom how posting pictures on Snapchat/ Instagram is called ‘blogging’. Micro blogging, maybe. I did get distracted last year on a few occasions thinking whether I should balance writing with other things. This year I shall continue to stick to what I am good at – writing/ venting/ pondering on this blog.
Give Mumbai’s Iconic / Heritage Restaurants Their Due:
When the news of Parsi Dairy Farm shutting down made the headlines, the world and Isobbed over the sad news. (Thankfully, those were just rumours.) But that made me realize one thing – I need to eat at these iconic restaurants to preserve them and ensure they remain open for posterity. Or atleast till my children are old enough to enjoy their first Mawa ni boi. Let us all also pledge to opt for dining at regional Indian restaurants as much as the fancy Italian/ Chinese ones. Trust me the food is yummier, and it may turn out to be cheaper as well!
Have you made any resolutions as well? Ones that you intend to keep, or break. Let me know in the comments below.
Do you have that one ingredient that you enjoy cooking with? That one ingredient that you try incorporating in most of your dishes? I decided to ask some of my favourite food bloggers and home chefs what their favourite ingredients to cook with are. These are bloggers that I follow, home chefs whose food I swear by, and food writers who I enjoy reading – an esteemed bunch who I am thankful to for contributing to this post. Read on!
1. Kalyan Karmakar of The Finely Chopped
One of the first food blogs I started following, each post Kalyan pens down is a fable, where the central characters are food! I’ve yet to find a blog that oscillates between gourmet food from the cobbled streets of Rome, to street side dosas from Mumbai suburbs with such ease.Kalyan tells me he enjoys cooking with fish – an answer I was hoping for owing to his Bengali lineage. ‘My current focus has been on oven based yet flavourful fish grills and bakes. The trick is to ensure that the fish is cooked right. Not over cooked. Not raw. Which is always a challenge in the oven and part of the fun.’, shares Kalyan.
The most challenging part of my work day is finding an auto rickshaw on Linking road during peak hours, to ply a short distance. I turn from Zenia to Xena – the warrior princess – fighting my way through the swarming traffic, competing with fellow office goers, all so that I can find someone to safely take me home. Sadly my ordeal does not end there.
I seem to have the innate knack of attracting auto drivers that range from the obstinately rude to the downright cheap. An interesting rickshaw ride yesterday inspired me to list down the types of rickshaw walas I encounter on a regular basis, and here goes –
I was in South Bombay last Sunday, specifically in the Fort area. And I did what I do every time I am in that area. Eat Parsi food at a Parsi restaurant. So I trudged down the narrow bylanes, with the sun shining down my back, with a begrudging Bee in tow and landed up outside the steps of Jimmy Boy.
What I enjoy about the Jimmy Boy menu is their wedding feast or Lagan nu Bhonu priced at Rs. 750/- + tax. (They also do a vegetarian spread, but no comments on that.) I devoured my plump, well coated patra ni macchi with a Raspberry by the side. I gobbled down the piquant, sweet-spicy, salli marghi on a makeshift banana leaf ‘paatra’. I ended my meal with some celebratory mutton pulao with masala dal, with barely enough stomach space to try their lagan nu custard.
And throughout my meal I felt this little childish excitement surging within me. A mixture of satiety and elation – something that only food memories can evoke. A feeling of going back in time, and eating pulao dal in my granny’s Dahanu home verandah. A memory of peeling away the banana leaf off the pomfret at a navjote, hoping the piece is bigger than your cousin’s.
While I went on a frenzy on Snapchat, posting pictures of my meal, and sharing my joy with the world, a lot of people asked me the same question – ‘ Why do you get so excited over Parsi food? Don’t you eat enough of it at home?’ My Gujarati friend exclaimed, ‘I would never go out and eat Gujju food voluntarily.’ Which brings me to the title of this post, ‘Why do I crave Parsi food?’
The answer is simple. We personally do not cook a lot of Parsi food at home on a daily basis. Meals at home usually comprise – roti, sabzi, dal, rice. The occassional sali chicken, or tareli macchi is made, that too with oil used sparingly for health reasons. I do not remember the last time we fried cutlets or kababs at home, mostly due to sheer laziness. Times have changed. My mother is a working woman and had barely enough time to learn traditional recipes that were far more complex and time consuming. And as generations progress, I am sure the situation will worsen.
I took to Twitter yesterday, asking folks if they would go to restaurants that served home style food, or food of their community or religion. I got an extremely mixed response from the group – some people stating that they would go specifically for home style cooking, and some stating that they would go provided that the restaurants offered something different. Everyone opined that the culture, and old world charm is what would bring them back.
Personally, the entire purpose of this exercise was for me to realize it is high time we preserve traditional recipes, and I start cooking Parsi food more often at home. It doesn’t have to be a complicated recipe – something simple will do. It doesn’t have to be everyday cooking – a nice meal on the weekend will do. Because honestly, what’s the point of learning to cook fancy desserts, and exotic dishes if my future children won’t be able to experience the joy of dhansak and kachubar on a Sunday afternoon.
I was in Dahanu a week ago, sitting in the same verandah where my granny must have fed me atleast half a dozen cheese and egg cutlets on a daily basis – my grandma’s signature recipe. A recipe that blogger, Parsi food caterer, and my dear friend – Bawi Bride blogged about here. A recipe that now sits proudly on her menu, and has been preserved for posterity. Next on the list – to extract my granny’s ‘Paatra ma gos’ (mutton steamed in banana leaves) recipe from her brown book of recipes that she seems to have misplaced.
So if you are a Bawa/Bawi and are getting married, kindly invite me to your wedding – the lagan invites have been dwindling recently. And please, ohh please, DO NOT have a buffet at your wedding – there’s no greater joy than eating off a banana leaf, piling up your meat bones in a corner, while a random aunty hovers over your head waiting to take your seat once you are done. Yes, I am a Parsi yet I crave Parsi food!