It might have come from the shores of Persia, but its now cooked in India and served here too. Noida has its chance to experience Parsi cuisine till October 23, 2016.
Words: Ambica Gulati
Coming straight from the recipe book of Master Chef Kaizad Patel, the festival is a mix of vegetarian and non-vegetarian dishes. Introducing Parsi cuisine to food enthusiasts, a master class was held during the special preview at the restaurant . The roots of this cuisine can be traced to Persian and Gujarati cuisines and there is a heavy emphasis on meat. On ingredients, Chef Patel said, “A mélange of hot and sweet, sour and spice, the soul lies in the ingredients.”
What we had a taste of: Murghi Na Farcha, Tarapori Prawn Patio, Salli Jardaloo Murghi Wafer Per Eedu, Patra Nu Paneer, Bhindi Sambhariya, Vengna Ravaiya.
And ended on a sweet note with Chapat With Parsi Peg Ice Cream and Lagan Nu Custard.
And Master Chef Kaizad Patel reveals more about this cuisine and festival.
What is different about Parsi food in terms of cooking method, ingredients?
Every cuisine has a different masala blend, likewise for Parsi food predominantly the vinegar that we use is sugarcane vinegar which makes it different than the rest and we need to maintain slight sweetness which is done by using apricots, jaggery or raisins. Our food has balanced taste of sweet, salty and spicy flavours and majorly inclines towards towards sweet and sour. In terms of method of cooking there is no indigenous method of cooking that we follow, we just follow broad spectrum, it could steam which we use to cook patra ni macchi, then the way we cook pulao which most people think is biryani style we do dum style, and others are mainly curry items. If you ask about the difference it’s the ingredients that make it different. Another specialty item is sambhar masala which is almost similar to what is used in Gujarat its called methiano masalo.
Which is the one must eat dish in the current festival?
The dish you must try is patra ni machhi because first of all it’s popularly known and secondly it’s a very healthy option. It is something which has most of the indigenous ingredients that are used and resembles a lot about Parsi food. The other thing is the mutton pulao dal that I would strongly recommend; everybody knows it as dhansak, it’s just brown rice and dal but its more flavorsome and appeals a lot to majority of people in India
How do you find the response to Parsi cuisine in other parts of the country vis a vis the Western parts?
The western part of India has different sects of people and also people from north, south so they are more open minded and want to try something different. In western parts of India there is easy access to Parsi food in places like Mumbai and Pune. Now there are a lot of restaurants popping up which serve Parsi food but because there is no easy access to the other parts, those who know about it and have a banquet query call us for just like one of the items in the buffet otherwise people know about it but it will never be showcased like butter chicken is available from a fine dining to a dhabha but dhansak is something which you will get at very few places and other people do make it but its just the interpretation of the food therefore people who haven’t tried the authentic Parsi food don’t find it great because ingredients is what makes the key difference to a dish and we make those specific ingredients in specific proportions that’s what makes lot of difference.
What needs to be preserved in this cuisine?
The authenticity of the cuisine needs to be preserved, the identity of the dish is lost when you substitute for example sugarcane vinegar with apple cider you will get a difference in the taste. Since ingredients are not easily available they start substituting and then people start questioning as what is so special about the cuisine because they actually didn’t have the authentic food. Once people try the authentic food and the word spreads around then the awareness and the whole idea of doing food festival is to create awareness about the cuisine.
Which are the more popular places to eat Parsi cuisine in India and which is your favourite?
This is difficult to answer because I have my own catering business, so what I cook is what I eat if I have to eat Parsi but there is a place called Café Ideal in Mumbai which serves close to authentic dhansak and fish and the others are just interpretations. In order to cut costs restaurants do not have the viability to serve just Parsi food because people would that once a month and they need footfall so there is lot of mix and match in the menu by adding Mumbai street food to it .