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Parsi Cuisine

Posted Mar 12 2010 5:55am


Parsis are a fun loving community and celebrate every possible festival with equal fervour. They eat sweets for Diwali, dance for New Year and dress up for Christmas. Their marriages, fashions and other celebrations are accompanied by legendary feasts of meat, sweets and fish specialities. Almost all Parsi families hold a Jashan or festive celebration on birthdays, anniversaries or to mark success in business or education. Recitations from scriptures, intoned musically by priests are a highlight. The holy fire is venerated and fruit, nuts, sweets are offered in thanksgiving. Naturally a feast of typically Parsi delicacies is also served on this occasion.

Source - The Hindu, Chef Devraj Haldar, Chef O P Khantwal & Bholanath Jha

Parsi cuisine is completely Indian, with the flavours of its history adding an ineffable touch
here must be something really special about Parsis. Their population in India is as small as a drop in the ocean, figuratively 0.007 per cent of the total population, still Parsis consider India as their home and the rest of India has good things to speak about them. Speak of their culture, etiquette, food, everything stands out and speaks volumes. Parsi industrialists were once upon a time a sought after elite in the then Bombay city.

When these Zoroastrians landed on the western shore of India, 13 centuries ago they brought with them not only the sacred fire from Persia but also the belief in the age-old religious philosophy of their prophet, Zarathustra and their special customs and their culinary skills as well.

Over the centuries, as the Parsis merged into and absorbed the rich heritage of the country, their culinary art underwent a subtle transformation. While keeping many recipes and methods of cooking intact, they also learnt and experimented with new methods and flavours, exotic and different. In this process they blended the original flavours from the shores of the Caspian Sea with the diverse ones of India. What is special about Parsi cooking is the ‘Caspian experience’. The results are a delightful blend of the two. Because of this, Parsi cooking has universal appeal.

Delicious array

The repertoire of the Parsi cuisine includes a delicious variety of fish, poultry, meat and egg dishes along with ample vegetarian, rice and desserts so as to keep the interests of vegetarians bright. Fish is a Parsi favourite and the Indian coasts feed their recipes with delight. Pomfret, sole fish, halibut and plaice find a special place on the Parsi dining table along with prawns and Bombay duck (boomla). Khari Machli, a versatile dish can be served on its own or with khichdee or sweet turmeric rice. Fish and chutney bake and bhujeli kolmi (prawns) are popular bakes. Kolmino sahs, bhinda-ma kolmi and bhaji kolmino patio are contrasting prawn dishes. Tarapori patio is a traditional Bombay duck pickle.

Chicken and mutton form an indispensable part of Parsi cooking and have varied, innumerable recipes and find application in mince, cutlets, kababs and curries. The basic and very popular preparations find meat cooked with fried onion and ginger-garlic paste, which give a delicious flavour to the brown gravy. They are also generally cooked with a variety of vegetables. Tamota-ma murghi, bhinda-ma murghi, papeta-ma murghi, dahi-ma murghi are some finger-licking chicken preparations with tomato, okra, potato and yoghurt respectively. Chicken dhansak is found in menus all over the world, aleti paleti is chicken liver and farcha, the amazing chicken chops.

Ambakalya-ma gosh, beans-ma gosh, dodhi-ma gosh, masur-ma gosh are mutton preparations with, mango, French beans, pumpkin and lentils. Also there are kababs, mince, pies and chops cooked with mutton to perfection. Other interesting dishes include bhaji-ma bheja (brains with spinach), fried brains and kharia (trotters).

Like Maharashtrians, the rice selection is excellent, bhujela chaval (aromatic rice), rus chaval (meat and rice ), prawn pulao are flavourful.

Parsis do not limit eggs till breakfast. They have some of the most delightful recipes with egg as main course. Attractive to look at and exciting in taste, whole or beaten and frothy, cooked over a variety of vegetables, they make unusual and delicious combinations. bharuchi akuri(scrambled egg), baked akuri, creamed eggs on mince, luggan-na-eeda (festive eggs), sali malai pur eeda (eggs with straw potatoes) are memorable.

Parsi cooking includes vegetarian dishes which are imaginative and interesting and have taste and appeal for all, brinjal salnoo and bharta, moong dal with dill, khatti mithi dal, stews cutlets and curries are plentiful.

Desserts are versatile in taste and preparation and include semolina fritters, coconut pancakes, malpura, badam pak, malido and lots more. They round up the delicious Parsi cuisine with a special flavour on your palette which make you come back for more.

The cuisine of the Parsis comes in a variety of flavours. Try their vegetable curry, chicken or pudding recipes .

Find here and here Patrani Maachi & more Parsi Recipes

Tarkari ni kari (vegetable curry)

Ingredients

Potatoes (cut into cubes) - 150 gm

Green peas (boiled) - 100 gm

Carrots (cut into small pieces) - 100 gm 

French beans (cut into small pieces) - 75 gm

Tomatoes - 200 gm 

Drumsticks (cleaned and cut into 3" pieces) - 6 


For the coconut paste:

Coconut grated - Half 

Ressampatti red chillies / red chillies - 12

Turmeric - 1" piece

Large garlic cloves - 10

Whole coriander seeds - 50 gm

Poppy seeds - 25 gm 

Sesame seeds - 25 gm

Skinned grams (dalia) - 50 gm
Salted cashew nuts - 50 gm

Black peppercorns - 10

Onions (chopped) - 2

Lime juice - 30 ml 
(grind together above 12 ingredients in half cup water)

Curry leaves - 1 spring

Oil - 100 ml 

Salt to taste


Method

Cut all the vegetables and soak them in water. Chop tomatoes finely and set aside.

Grind the coconut masala till soft.

Boil the drumsticks in salted water till soft. Drain the water.

In a pan add a cup of oil and drop the curry leaves in it. When the oil gets hot add the ground masala and lower the flame and fry till red.

Add the vegetables, chopped tomatoes and salt and cook for five minutes more.

Then add four teacups of water and bring to a fast boil, lower the flame and allow to simmer till vegetables become soft.

Add the boiled drumsticks and the limejuice. Serve hot with rice or rotis.

Dilkhush Murghi (Chicken delight)

Ingredients

Boneless chicken (cut into small pieces) - 800 gm

Thick yoghurt - 300 gm
Boiled green peas - 500 gm

Saffron - 1 gm

Large onions (finely chopped) - 3

Large tomatoes (skinned and pulped) - 3

Large bay leaves - 4

For the paste:


Green cardamoms (crushed) - 4

Ginger-garlic paste - 1 tbsp 

Cinnamon - 1" stick

Cloves - 6 

Black peppercorns - 20 

Mace - 5 gm

Nutmeg powder - 5

Star anise - 2 

Fennel seeds (roasted) - 1 tablespoon

Coriander seeds (roasted) - 1 tablespoon

Fresh coriander (finely chopped) - half cup
(The above 11 ingredients should be ground finely)

Turmeric powder - one and a half teaspoon

Red chilli powder - 2 teaspoon
Salt - to taste

Ghee - 100 gm 


Method

Wash the chicken pieces, discard bony portions and marinate in salt and ginger-garlic paste and set aside.

Warm the saffron and allow it to soak in a cup of hot water. Chop the onions fine and allow to brown in three tablespoons of ghee in a large vessel. When brown, add the bay leaves and cardamom and the chicken, lower the flame and cook on low flame for ten minutes. Remove from the fire.

In a vessel place one tablespoon of ghee, the ground masala, tomato pulp, turmeric and chilli powders. Roast over a low flame for ten minutes till the masala is cooked. Add the saffron water and the whipped yoghurt.

Then pour the gravy over the half-cooked chicken and allow to simmer over a low fire for 25 minutes till chicken pieces are almost cooked.

Let the gravy thicken. Serve in a flat dish and sprinkle the peas over the chicken.

Lagan-nu-custard (Wedding custard)

Ingredients

Eggs - 10
cream milk - 3 litres

Condensed milk - 100 ml

Sugar - 600 gm

Almonds - 15

Pistachios (blanched and sliced) - 50 gm

Nutmeg and cardamom (powdered) - half teaspoon
Vanilla essence: one and a half teaspoon 

Butter (for greasing the dish) - 20 gm

Method

Bring the milk to a boil in a large heavy bottomed pan. Remove from fire and stir in the condensed milk, sugar and cook over slow fire. Keep stirring the milk till it is coats the back of the wooden spoon. Remove from the fire and cool.

Grease custard moulds with butter.

Beat the eggs till frothy and stir into the cooled milk. Beat in the vanilla and nutmeg-cardamom powder. Pour into the moulds and bake in the oven at 350 degree F till golden brown.

Remove from the oven, top with the sliced nuts and pop it back into the oven and switch off. Chill and serve, preferably the next day.

Tarela bheeda (Fried lady's finger)

Ingredients

Tender lady's finger - 1 kg

Salt to taste

Oil - for shallow frying

Method

Wash and dry the lady's finger and remove the head and tail. Cut into small slices and mix with salt. Heat oil in a pan and add the lady's finger in small quantities till they are crisp and green in colour.

Vengna nu bhartu (Brinjal bharta)

Ingredients

Brinjal - 500 gm 

Curd (optional) - 200 ml

Cumin seeds - 15 gm 

Salt - to taste

Groundnut oil - 20 ml

Onions - 100 gm 

Tomatoes - 75 gm

Green chillies - 10 gm

Method

Rub the brinjals with a little oil, roast them, remove their skins and mash the pulp.

Chop the onions, tomatoes, green chillies and add to the pulp. Add all the spices except, cumin seeds and curd to the above mixture.

Heat oil, saute the cumin seeds, add the pulp and the curd (optional) and mix. Check the seasoning and cook. Serve with warm khichdi or cold as a salad.

Khatu meethu stew (Sweet and sour stew)

Ingredients

Green peas - 250 gm

French beans - 50 gm

Pickled onions - 300 gm

Carrots - 200 gm

Cauliflower - 300 gm

Baby potato - 300 gm

Yam - 300 gm 

Sweet potato - 100 gm

Onions - 200 gm

Vinegar - 45 ml

Sugar - 20 gm 

Salt - to taste

Oil - for frying

Tomatoes - 75 gm

Green chillies - 10 gm 

Coriander leaves - 50 gm

Mint leaves - 30 gm 

Ginger garlic paste - 100 gm

Method

Cut all the vegetables into same size. Shallow fry all, except onions, mint and coriander.

In a separate pan, saute the onions and the ginger garlic paste.

Add the chopped tomatoes and cook for sometime. To this mixture, add the fried vegetables and then add sugar, salt, vinegar and mix. Simmer for 10 minutes. Check seasoning. Serve hot.

(Note: This should have a predominant sweet and sour flavour, so one can always adjust the sugar and vinegar quantities accordingly).

Tittori (Sprouted bitter beans)

Ingredients

Dried vaal (soaked for 3 days to sprout): 300 gm
Coconut: 1 

Dried kopra: half tablespoon

Parsi dhansakh masala: 1 1/2tablespoon 

Garam masala: 1 tablespoon 

Chilli powder: 1 tablespoon

Turmeric powder: 1 teaspoon

Large onions: 4

Large tomatoes: 4

Ginger-garlic paste: 1 tablespoon 

Sugar: 1 tablespoon

Oil: 30 ml
Salt: to taste

Method

Wash the vaal dal twice and set aside.

Grind the dry coconut finely with the help of half a cup of water. Add two cups of hot water to grated coconut and extract milk. Strain and set aside. ( or 200 ml instant coconut milk )

Chop the onions and tomatoes finely.

Place the onions, ginger-garlic paste in a pan. Cook till soft and then add the finely ground dried kopra, spices, sugar, salt and the tomatoes.

When the masala is cooked, add the sprouted dal, coconut milk and two cups of water and allow to cooking till soft.

The dal should remain intact and not disintegrate so do not stir, but shake the vessel from side to side. Add more water if needed and allow to simmer till soft. Adjust seasoning and serve hot.

Mug ni dar (Husked green beans)

Ingredients

Moong dal - 300 gm 

Turmeric - 10 gm 

Salt - to taste 

Tomatoes - 10 gm

Green chillies - 20 gm 

Coriander leaves - 30 gm

Cumin powder - 20 gm

Garlic pods - 10 gm 

Ghee - 30 ml

Method

Boil the dal with green chillies and turmeric in water. The water should be at least one inch over the dal.

After the dal is done, mash it and add tomatoes and coriander leaves.

Heat ghee in a pan, saute garlic and cumin. Pour this over the dal. Serve hot with chapatis or boiled rice.

Chicken Farcha

Ingredients

Six large legs of chicken
1 tablespoon of chilli powder
1 tablespoon of turmeric powder
1 tablespoon of garam masala powder
1 cup full of breadcrumbs
1 tablespoon ginger-garlic paste
Six eggs, beaten
Oil for frying
Salt to taste

Method

Mix chicken with all ingredients except breadcrumbs, eggs and oil. Set it aside for an hour.

Steam cook till meat is just cooked but not soft.

Roll each piece in breadcrumbs.

Then dip in beaten eggs and deep fry in hot oil till crisp and done.

Sali Boti

You need

1 kg mutton, cubed
5 onions, ground to a paste
1 tablespoon ginger-garlic paste
1 cup tomato puree
½ cup curd
1 ½ teaspoon chilli powder
1 teaspoon turmeric powder
1 teaspoon garam masala powder
2 teaspoon sugar
200 gms potatoe straws (sali),
Oil as needed
Salt to taste

Method

Marinate meat in all ingredients except oil and sali. Leave for an hour. Heat one cup oil in a pressure cooker and add meat. Stir fry till brown. Add two cups water and pressure cook till done. Turn out and serve covered with potato straws.

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