2013: I was in Bombay, visiting my sister who was settled there at that time. It was a longish visit and I ended up exploring some parts of the city via interesting walks, friends and relatives.
I went flamingo watching at Sewri one early morning.
Attended the Kala Ghoda festival – my first!
Visited the Sula vineyard in Nasik
A photo walk through Mumbai Chor Bazar.
I had heard a lot about Parsi food but never tested the waters. When I mentioned the same to my cousin, he promptly planned to take me to Britannia Cafe in Fort area – this is one of the oldest Parsi/Iranian cafes in Bombay.
I was surprised to see the “antiquated” look of the cafe. Plastic table covers, green & white check pattern printed on plastic mats , peeling plaster and a beauty of an old table fan.
We both selected a table and waited for the server to arrive. Menu perusing and ordering was done in consultation with him, and realising it’s our first time , he recommended the best dishes in the house alongwith the famous Parsi drink – it was fuscia pink in colour and had a berry like flavour. (It was too sweet for me)
We started with the famous Chicken Berry Pulao – I was quite taken by the look of the dish which had a generous sprinkling of dried red berries, cashews and fried onions.
Upon enquiring from our knowledgeable server, we came to know that these are the traditional Iranian Barberry or Zeereshk which are to date imported from Persia.
Impressed , we dug in with gusto. I realised that I had been anticipating a biryani or a mughlai like flavour (pls excuse my very north Indian palate)and was quite unprepared for the sweetness (from the berries) and next to nothing spices in it. As a result, my taste buds rejected it outright!!!
Moving on, we sampled the Mutton Sali Boti which we were informed is mutton served on a bed of sali or potato sticks. Interesting accompaniment, we mused to each other. And that gravy looks exciting too!!!!!
This is cooked in a thick gravy of onions and tomato with addition of vinegar / lemon juice to make it sour. There is also some sugar to lend it some sweetness, which is what marred it for me.
Somehow this sweet and no-spice food didn’t gel with my gourmet expectations and I decided not to proceed further with Dhansak or anything else.
Sadly this was the end of the Parsi food affair for me and I haven’t quite caught onto the wave of parsi eating joints which have mushroomed across the length and breadth of India’s many metros.
“Your body is not a temple , it is an amusement park. Enjoy the ride.” – Anthony Bourdain
How about you? Does Parsi cuisine send your taste buds to gourmet heaven?
- Iranian or parsi food joints are quite popular in Bombay for their serving if Irani chai and Bun Maska or bun n butter.
- Several food blogs, hone caterers and restaurant chains have come up with concept of promoting parsi cuisine.
Coming up tomorrow is a queer tale, me thinks!!!
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