- Kamal Kant Gautam
The parsi community originated from Persia now known as Iran. The Parsi when settled in India carried along with them some of their Persian tradition. They also adopted part of the local cuisine but maintained their distinctive culture. Parsi food is a mix of vegetarian Gujarati cuisine and non-vegetarian Iranian cuisine. Since Parsi first settled in Sajjan , in Gujarat which is the coastal area. Their cuisine is influence by fish. Coconut is the ingredient most of the Parsi food. In their cuisine herbs are frequently used along with fruits such as plums, apricot and raisins. The main Persian cuisines are rice with meat, lamb or fish. and some onion, vegetables, nuts and herbs. To achieve balanced taste, characteristic Persian flavoring such as saffron. Cinnamon, parsley and dried lime are mixed delicately and used in special dishes. Since they settled in India they started using Garlic, Ginger, Red chilles and tamarind in their cuisine.
The Parsis believe in Humata, Hukha, Huvarshta which mean good thought, good words, and good deeds. The impact of these can be very clearly seen on their food, where good living is incomplete without good food. Parsi food is a mix of vegetarian Gujarati cuisine and non-vegetarian Iranian cuisine
- The Parsi curry is composed of coconut and spices. Coconut, fish, and rice are considered to be the way of life and any Parsi feast is incomplete without the inclusion of these three. Parsis are connoisseurs of non-vegetarian food, and drink
- Because of the Iranian roots, the stewing of vegetables, lentils and meat together in Parsi cuisine similar to the practice in Iranian cuisine. The meat is combined with vegetables such as okra, green peas and nuts.
- The use of the flavour of rose water is again an Iranian influence on the Parsi cuisine.
- The halwas and the murabbas made under this cuisine is also the Iran effect on the cuisine.
- The parsi preference for egg (eeda) has led to the making of certain egg specialities such as kera per eeda (eggs cooked on banana) and akuri (masala scrambled eggs)
- The fat medium preferred in the cuisine is ghee. Mustard oil and peanut oil also finds common use.
- The use of ginger and garlic is also very prominent in the Parsi cuisine.
- Garnishing of the dishes with fine straw potatoes (Sali) is common.
- Vinegar and sugar- Many Parsi dishes use this unique balance of acid and sweetness called ‘khattu mithu.’ A popular Parsi tomato-based curry is the ‘Patio’; made using this method. The turkey mince (Kheemo) in this recipe is another example of how these two elements work together in a dish.
- The large selection of pickles and chutneys are adapted from the western coasts of India such as Konkan and Maharashtra.
- Snacks such as bhakra (deep fried sweet dough), batasa (flour and butter tea biscuits) etc are an influence of the Gujrati cuisine on that of the Parsi cuisine. Other snacks include dar ni pori (sweetened lentils stuffed in a light pastry) and khaman na lavda (dumplings stuffed with sweetened coconut).
- Balance of dried fruits, fresh fruits and nuts- Dried fruit like apricots and raisins, nuts like pistachio and almond appears commonly in Parsi dishes. And it is not uncommon to find fresh fruits like pomegranate and bananas in the food. A boneless lamb preparation using apricots (Jardaloo Sali Boti) is a hot favourite.
- Sweet dishes also are an area of importance in this cuisine. Few famous desserts of the parsi cuisine resembles apuff pastry and this has been probably influenced by certain desserts made in Turkey and the Middle East that use an ingredient called phyllo to make desserts such as baklava.
- Ghau nu doodh is wheat soaked in water for about two days, changing the water everyday. The soaked wheat is then ground to a paste and hung in a cloth. The dripping are collected and when dried, they are broken or ground and then stored until further use. It is used to prepare many puddings such as soova pak (reduced milk pudding flavoured with dill and deep fried ghau nu doodh and nuts).
- In Parsi cooking, people do not prefer to roast too many spices as they believe in the preserving the nutrition and the rich flavour of the condiments. Some special ingredients used in the cuisine apart from the normal ones include: Apricots (jardaloo), Ice fruit of date palm (Galeli), clm (teesri) etc.
- In Parsi tradition, the dinner is considered the main meal of the day.
PARSI COOKING EQUIPMENT:
- Karasio and kuth: These are jugs without any handle which are traditionally made out of German silver. The smaller version is called the kuth. These are usually used to take out water from the container or even to bring it.
- Boiyu: it is alarge colander which is used to drain rice after boiling. It could be used for draining many other things such, but used primarily for rice.
- Tapeli: these are pans of various shapes and sizes used for cooking food. The shape of a tapeli almost resembles handi or patila used in other parts of India.
- Patio: It is a flat pan with a broad base and wide mouth, usually used for making a dish called patio, and hence the name.
- Lohri: it is frying pan which is something between an kadhai and a tawa. It resembles the sauteuse pan used in western cooking and is used for making stir – fried dried vegetables.
- Popatji nu panu: It is a type of wok that has got 4 – 8 depressions to make a dish called Popatji nu panu that is eaten as tea time snacks. The utensil is made of cast iron and has depressions in which the batter is poured. The dish is placed directly on the heat source and when heated, it is oiled and batter is poured into the depression and cooked on both sides.
- Sadhna nu vasan: This is a kind of steamer used for preparing a special dish called sadhna made from rice flour. This vessel is quite similar to an idli vessel. It is filled with water upto the marked level and is kept directly on the heat source. The batter is poured on the perforated tray and is placed inside the container with the lid tightly closed. The steam thus generated cooks the sadhna.
PARSI MEAL STYLE:
- Their breakfast consists of eggs, bread and tea.
- The basic feature of a Parsi lunch is rice, eaten with lentils, meat, fish or vegetable curry. Curry is normally coconut based.
- Dinner is considered the main meal of the day and is a combination of eggs, fish, meat and poultry eaten with rice and finished with fruits and nuts. Potatoes or other vegetable curries along with Kachumber (onion salad) accompanies most meals.
MAIN FESTIVALS OF THE PARSI COMMUNITY
- Jamshedi Navroz (Parsi new year.)
- Zarthost No Deeso (death anniversary of the prophet Zarathushtra)
- Khordad Sal (Khordad Sal is the birth anniversary of Zoroaster)
- Pateti (day of repentance and penitence)
- Navjote (ceremony through which an individual is inducted into the Zoroastrian religion)
The food prepared at these festivals are:-
- Malido (Parsi sweet dish with flour, semolina, cashewnuts and almond etc)
- Ravo (Semolina Sweet Pudding)
- Sev (Vermicelli sweet)
- Mitthu Dahi (Sweet Yogurt)
- Dhan Dar Patio (white rice, plain yellow dal, and this richly flavored seafood ragout preparation)
- Patra ni machi (Fish in Banana-Leaf Parcels)
- Parsi Pilau ( vegetable Pulao)
- Chicken Farcha (fried chicken)
- Papeta per Eeda (egg preparation with potatoes)
- Sali Jardalu Murghi (spicy chicken with apricots garnished with fine potato crisps)
- Sas nu chicken (chicken in sweet-sour sauce)
- Falooda(popular beverage made by mixing rose syrup with vermicelli and tapioca seeds along with either milk or water)
- Laganu custard (Parsi sweet custard)
- Daar ni Por i(sweet pastry)
- Mava Painda (almond fudge)
DISHES IN PARSI CUISINE:
- MALAI NA KHAJA: This parsi speciality is specially prepared during the weddings. It is a kind of layered puff pastry that is made by combining rice flour and flour. The thick cream flavoured with rose is stuffed between two layered sheets of dough, which are then deep fried. The fried pastries are then dipped into sugar syrup and served warm.
- SALLI OR WAFERS: These are essential to the Parsi cuisine. Potatoes are thinly sliced or shredded and then washed several times in water to get rid of the starch. They are then dipped in cold salted water for at least 30 mins and are then drained, dried between towels and deep fat fried until crisp.
- DHANSAK: This is a very famous dish of the Parsis made by cooking lentils with meat, vegetables along with spring onion, mint , fenugreek and coriander.
(This particular dish is not preferred in any auspicious occasions because it is connected with death. The Parsi custom says that they are forbidden to eat meat for at least three days after the death of the loved one. It is believed that due to flow of emotions and mourning, the digestive systems do not work normally, and hence there could be a possibility of food not getting digested. The fourth day of this abstinence is broken by eating Dhansak.)
- AKOORI: the love for eggs of the Parsis has led to the making of many dishes with egg as the main ingredient. This is basically masala scrambled egg that is flavoured with garlic, onion and tomatoes. It is spiced with turmeric and can be eaten bread or even with roti. There are many variations of this in the Parsi cuisine.
- PORA: Parsi omelette.
- TARELI MACHI: This is the most common fish preparation in the parsi cuisine. The fish slices are marinated with turmeric, salt, red chilli powder, and cumin powder and shallow – fried in seesame seed oil until crisp.
- PATRANI MACHCHI: This is by far the most popular fish preparation in this cuisine. Pomfret slices are marinated with a chutney of coconut, mint leaves, green chillies, coriander leaves, ginger and garlic along with turmeric, cumin powder, and lime juice. The fish is then packed in banana leaves and steamed.
- SAAS NI MACHCHI: Pomfret cooked in a sweet and spicy gravy.
- MURGH JARDALOO: This dish consists of chicken stewed with dried or soaked apricots. The sweet taste of the apricots combine well with the sharp taste of the chillies and Worcestershire sauce.
- BATERO: This again is a unique dish of meat stewed in toddy vinegar. The meat is marinated with ground spices such as turmeric, chilli, cumin, ginger, garlic, peppercorns and toddy vinegar. The meat is shallow fried in ghee and the rest of the marinade is added to the meat, which is cooked until tender.
- DHAN DAAL PATIO: Rice, lentils and fish cooked in a sweet and tangy coconut-based gravy with drumsticks.
- KOLMI NO PATIO: Curried shrimp in a thickish tangy curry sauce. Usually served with a plain lentil side dish, and rice.
- SUKHA BOOMLA ACHAR: Sweet and sour dried seafood pickle.
- RAVO: It is a simple semolina pudding and the most famous dessert eaten on any occasions. The semolina is sautéed in ghee for a minute and then cooked in water and milk until it thickens, it is then garnished with slivered nuts and served chilled.
- SOOTERFENI: This is dessert made from sugar and looks like thin threads rolled into large circular size. It is flavoured with rose, cardamom and nutmeg. It is garnished by sprinkling rose petals, chopped pistachios and charoli seeds on top.
- FALOODA: This rose – sweetened milk often combined with ice – cream and corn flour vermicelli. It can also be garnished with soaked basil seeds that swell up like a drop of jelly with a black dot inside.
· LAGANU CUSTARD: A Parsi community wedding speciality. To prepare this the milk is boiled along with sugar until it is reduced to half. Powdered nutmeg is added for flavour and when the mixture is cool enough, eggs are beaten into it along with dry fruits. This is then baked in a moderate oven, until the top surface is golden brown and the custard is firm.
A Traditional Parsi menu with recipes
The Wedding Dinner (Lagan nu Bhonu)
- Patrani Macchi (fish in banana-leaf parcels)
- taamota Par Eenda (egg preparation with tomato sauce)
- Khari Murghi Ma Sali (chicken in gravy with potatoes)
- Mutton Bafat (mutton stew)
- Laganshala (Parsi Vegetable stew)
- Gosh no pulao (Mutton pulao)
- Masala dal
- Lagan Nu Custard (Parsi Custard)
- Sweets and Nuts
- Plus Curds Chappaties and Sweet fruit pickle
- And potato chips, traditionally served on a Banana Leaf.
*Famous dishes of the community
Akuri ( A parsi style scrambled egg savory with spices)
Parsi Pora (Savory Omlette preparation parsi style)
Papeta Per Eenda ( egg preparation with onions and potatoes)
Bhaji Per Eenda ( egg preparation with Spinach)
Bhinda Per Eenda (egg preparation with okhras)
Turia Jinga Per Eenda (egg preparation with prawns and ridged gourd)
Khima Per Eenda (egg preparation with minced meat)
Jinga no Poro (savory omlette preparation with prawns)
Patrani Macchi (Fish in Banana-Leaf Parcels)
Tareli Macchi (parsi fried fish)
Macchi Nu Vindaloo ( fish in vindalo sauce)
Jinga Bhinda No Patio( Prawns and okras in spicy sweet and sour sauce)
Macchi Ni Curry(fish curry in parsi style)
Macchi Ni Molee (A green fish curry in parsi style)
Bhaji Danama Jinga (Vegetable preparation with spice spinach, peas and prawns)
Gharab Bhinda No Patio (Fish roe and okhra patia preparation)
Gharab Koru No Patio( Red pimpkin and salted roe patia preparation)
Gharab No Achar( Fish Roe pickle)
Macchi Na Cutlet(Fish or prawns cutlet)
Macchi No Sas(Fish sas preparation)
Masoor Ma Gos (Lentils with meat preparation)
Papeta Ma Gos(meat and potato preparation)
Papri Ma Gos (field beans and meat preparation)
Tambota Ma Gos (Meat with tomato preparation)
Khimo(Parsi minced meat preparation)
Mutton Molee ( Green curry of mutton)
Seekh Botee Curry ( mutton stick curry)
Seekh Boti (Skewered Meat)
Dhansak (lamb, mutton, goat or chicken and/or vegetables in lentil and/or toor daal gravy)
Mutton Bafat(Mutton Stew)
Bheja Na Cutlet(Brain Cutlet)
Masala Khari Ne Chora(a parsi soul food prepared from trotters and beans)
Parsi Roast(Roast Lamb)
Kari Murgi(salty chicken)
Chicken farcha (fried chicken)
Mavanu Chicken (rich cream chicken)
Sasnu Chicken(Chicken in sweet and sour egg sauce)
Dhan Dar Ne Patio ( plain rice with dal and prawns patia)
Sali murghi (spicy chicken with fine potato crisps)
Jardaloo sali boti (boneless mutton in an onion and tomato gravy with apricots and potato strips)
Tamota ni russ chaval (mutton cutlets with white rice and tomato gravy)
Kachumber( onion salad)
Kitcheree Ne sas(Yellow rice and sauce preparation)
Balasari Biryani(Parsi biryani cooked with lamb meat and spices)
Biryani(set of rice-based foods made with spices, rice and meat, fish, eggs or vegetables)
Papri Ne Jinga Na Kebabs(Fresh field beans and prawn kebabs)
Lagan nu Custer(Parsi custard)
Batasa (flour and butter tea biscuits)
Kulfi (condensed milk ice cream)
Ravo (Semolina Sweet Pudding)
Dudh Pak(Rice pudding)
Dahitran(yogurt rounds in syrup)
Date Ghari(date stuffed cakes)
Kumas( parsi cake)
Dar ni pori (sweetened lentils stuffed in a light pastry)
Falooda(popular beverage made by mixing rose syrup with vermicelli and tapioca seeds along with either milk or water)
Khaman na lavda (dumplings stuffed with sweetened coconut).
A Traditional menu with recipes
The Wedding Dinner
Lagan nu Bhonu
Patrani Macchi (fish in banana-leaf parcels)
taamota Par Eenda (egg preparation with tomato sauce)
Khari Murghi Ma Sali (chicken in gravy with potatoes)
Mutton Bafat (mutton stew)
Laganshala (Parsi Vegetable stew)
Gosh no pulao (Mutton pulao)
Lagan Nu Custard (Parsi Custard)
Sweets and Nuts
Plus Curds Chappaties and Sweet fruit pickle
And potato chips, traditionally served on a Banana Leaf.