Proudly Parsi

Parsi chefs in the city weigh in on the debate over keeping it authentic or experimenting with traditional Parsi cuisine

author_img Shreya Veronica Published :  05th March 2022 03:30 PM   |   Published :   |  05th March 2022 03:30 PM
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Foods like Farcha, Dhansak and Patra Ni Macchi have a fan base of their own. But in the day and age of fusion, traditional Parsi food, many fear, is losing its essence. In the name of experiments and twists, is Parsi food losing its original taste? We speak to restaurants, chefs and members of the community to find out more. 

For those looking for authentic Parsi food, SodaBottleOpenerWala in the city has been a great saviour. Irfan Pabaney, country head at the restaurant, talks about the need to keep things true to the culture. He shares, “People often love to make popular dishes their own way. Who wouldn’t enjoy some experimenting when preparing a dish — Dhansaks don’t taste the same everywhere.”

authentic food did get influenced by the people there, so it is bound to happen.” However, he says it’s important to know how much of it is okay. “While we serve authentic Parsi food at SodaBottleOpenerWala, we have a separate Hyderabadi menu because it is also very important to ensure our guests get to eat what their tastebuds like.” 

He adds that though the city houses many from the Parsi community, it isn’t big enough to have any much of an influence on Hyderabadi food or vice versa. “The minute you go overboard with experimenting, you end up disturbing a rich heritage — of not just Parsian but any food, that’s a great disservice to Indian food, as a whole,” he says. 

Ariana Z Chothia, a pastry chef, believes how fusion doesn’t particularly go well with the traditional Parsi dishes. “While fusion does give an interesting twist to the already great flavours that permeate from our hearty recipes, it sometimes tends to alter the authenticity of the traditional Parsi way of cooking. It is important that the traditional tastes of the recipes be kept alive.”

Dr Sonnu Irani, an active member of the community in the city, does her bit to keep the authenticity of Parsian food alive. She frequently hosts traditional Parsi brunches on Sundays. She tells CE, “The specialty of these dishes is in the Irani masala used in them. It takes hours to make this masala — it includes soaking the ingredients overnight to get that real, raw taste of the dish. Using earthen cookware makes these Parsi dishes even more authentic.

The problem with today’s Parsi dishes is that those trying to make these do it after watching some videos and tutorials on YouTube. The amateur cooking of these dishes makes the recipes lose their essence. In places like Gujarat, you tend to get even better Parsi food, because of the many Parsis having access to authentic recipes. I personally am not a fan of fusion Parsian food.” 

Traditional Parsi dishes

Mutton Dhansak:  Mutton kebabs, lentils prepared with vegetables and mutton

Dhan Dar Ana Patio: Lentils served with steamed rice and a prawn patio 

Khichdi Saas: Yellow rice served with spicy tangy sauce and fish

Salli Boti: Small chunks of mutton prepared in a sweet and tangy gravy and served with potato straws

Lagan Nu Stew:  Mixed vegetables prepared in a sweet gravy

Lagan Nu Custard: A dessert prepared with milk and eggs

Patra Ni Macchi: pomfret stuffed with green chutney and wrapped in a banana leaf

True to the taste
Here are some authentic Parsi recipes that you could try making this weekend. Impress your friends and folks with these bold flavours 

Chicken Farcha

Ingredients

  • For first marination
  • 1,000 gm chicken legs with bone
  • 15 gm ginger garlic paste
  • 7 gm Deggi Mirch powder
  • 30 gm salt
  • 25 ml lemon juice
  • Second marination:
  • 120 gm rice flour
  • 90 gm corn flour
  • 300 gm maida
  • 6 eggs

Method
● Wash the chicken legs and drain the water. Pat dry the legs and make slits 
● In a bowl, add ginger-garlic paste, salt, Deggi Mirch and lemon juice. Mix in the chicken and let it rest for 6-8 hours or overnight for better results
● Couple of hours before frying, mix all the other ingredients in the bowl and coat the chicken legs. Refrigerate it so that the coating sets
● Beat 4 eggs in a bowl with a little seasoning and keep aside
● Heat oil in a pan to deep fry
● Fry the legs until the coating turns hard. This should take 4-5 mins. Do not cook the chicken completely. Undercook it by 5 per cent
● Dip the fried chicken in the beaten eggs and deep fry again on high flame
● Fry until the egg coating turn golden brown 
● Serve with mint chutney and lemon wedges 

— (Irfan Pabaney, chef & country head of SodaBottelOpenerWala)

Fish Sas

Ingredients

  • 1 small onion
  • 3 tbsp maida
  • Paste of 6-8 green chillies
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 4-5 garlic slivers
  • A few cherry tomatoes
  • Chopped coriander for garnish

Method
●Chop and sauté the onions till they turn pink 
●Add the green chilly paste and maida. Cook on slow flame
●Keep adding water to form a thin slurry. Add salt, sugar and vinegar to taste
●Add fish of your choice, cherry tomatoes and chopped coriander
●Serve with rotis or yellow rice

(Ariana Z Chothia)

Dhansak 

Ingredients 

  • For the dal base
  • 100 gm Tur dal
  • 80 gm Red masoor dal  
  • 80 gm Channa dal
  • 50 gm yellow pumpkin
  • 100 gm brinjal (big)
  • 90 gm potato
  • 15 gm green chillies
  • 10 gm mint
  • 10 gm coriander
  • 12 gm garlic, peeled
  • 50 gm tomato 2 gm curry leaves
  • 10 gm ginger
  • For dal
  • 800 gm Dhansak dal mixture
  • 10 gm salt
  • 10 gm Parsi Sambar Masala
  • 10 g Parsi Dhansak Masala
  • 25 gm ginger garlic paste  
  • 10 gm Deggi chilli powder
  • 100 ml ghee

Method 
●  Wash all the dals thoroughly and soak for 45 mins. Pressure cook all the ingredients along with the vegetables for 4-5 whistles until everything disintegrates. Roughly blend and keep aside
●  In a pan, heat ghee. Add mustard seeds, curry leaves and ginger garlic paste
●  Add the Dhansak dal blend and cook on low flame for 30 mins. The dal needs to be semi-thick, soup-like consistency
●  Add the Deggi Mirch powder, Sambar Masala and the Dhansak Masala. Cook for 10 more mins
●  Top it up with more ghee for flavour and serve hot 

(Irfan Pabaney)

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