I’ve lived in Mumbai for more than 10 years now. One of the most quintessential parts of the maximum city is the Parsi community – a peace-loving, close knit community that has its roots in both Iran and India. Their primary language is Gujarati, but their food is anything but like that in Gujarat.
The Patra ni Machi (Fish steamed with a sweet green chutney in a leaf), Dhansaak (the parsi dal normally with mutton), Akuri (scrambled eggs), etc., are some well-known dishes that you will come across if you stay in the Southern part of Mumbai. Sadly, a lot of Parsi/Irani cafes (almost 300) that used to be the haunts of Mumbaikars over the years for their mawa cakes, chai, bun maska, etc., have been closing down.
But, if there is one person that is trying (and succeeding) to revive the community’s cuisine, it is Perzen Patel Darukhanawala aka Bawi Bride. A full-time marketing head, Perzen is the Parsi cuisine goddess and whips up THE most amazing Lagan nu Custard (similar to creme caramel); dhansaak; salli gosht, etc. And, when she invited me to her home for a Navroze meal to celebrate the Spring Equinox, I was more than delighted to accept.
The evening was one of the best I’ve ever spent. It was a small and warm group of foodies that gathered around Perzen’s Navroze table and had cheerful conversations about food, Perzen, food-walks, TV shows, food, Parsi cuisine and food. It was fun finally meeting some people I have been following on Twitter and rarely met – the lovely Manisha from SassyFork, the complete foodie Vipul aka Sporty Baba, the effervescent and rather lovely Anisha from City Ninjas, Zenia aka Branded Bawi, Kalyan from Finely Chopped and his pretty wife and of course Bawi Bride.
We started off with the Navroze table, the significance of which Perzen patiently explained to us. We then each looked into the small mirror and smiled to reflect positive energies, while Perzen sprinkled some water on us. Here’s a pic of both Anisha and Manisha sending out positive energies:
Then, after a round of some drinks and snacks, we helped Perzen get the table ready and the food was looking delicious. On the menu was: Kheema Kebabs (that Perzen’s grandfather would make), Prawn Red Curry (her grandmother’s recipe) with steamed rice, Salli Gosht (a mutton curry with sticks of fried potato), crusty homemade bread, and a volley of desserts to choose from (of course, we ate all!).
We started off with the kebabs, which were beautifully crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. I love the hint of garam masala that doesn’t really overpower the taste but makes a sure shot impact!
We then quickly moved on to the main course. The crusty bread beautifully complemented the sweet, sour, spicy Salli Gosht. So the mutton curry’s other version, Salli Boti is very popular. The only difference is that the former has bones and the latter doesn’t. This curry had the right consistency of gravy, not too watery not too dry. The spices had beautifully penetrated the meat, which was falling off the bone.
The Prawn Red Curry with chunky potatoes is definitely on my list of my favourite curries. The hit of coconut with the ground spices and the taste of the prawns are quite a heady combination. Its fieryness is quickly doused by the steamed rice – a marriage made in heaven.
The meal was also accompanied by some simple kachumber or salad.
Finally, we went on to the desserts. We had kopra pak (a pink mixture of freshly grated coconut, rose water, sugar), Lagan nu Custard, Lagan nu custard icecream and Falooda.
I’m not ashamed to say that I gorged on the custard and the icecream. I’m a huge fan of Perzen’s custard and her icecream had me salivating ever since I heard about it! So, I was in heaven while eating both the custard and the icecream. The latter is quite a brilliant dish that Perzen concocted when she had lots of left over custard. I would be the happiest with bowlfuls of these!
Finally, with our bellies full and our hearts happy with the food and company, we rather reluctantly left for home. But, this is a meal I will remember forever! Thank you Perzen!