>Today is Navroze. The festival marks the beginning of Spring. Originated in Central Asia. In India it is celebrated by the Parsis and Iranis who follow the Zoroastrian faith.
I am a Bengali fortunate enough to be married to a Parsi. I wholeheartedly join in in celebrating Navroze with my ‘family of procreation’ as we used to call it in Sociology. And why not? Food forms the biggest part of the celebrations of this good natured, fun loving race which loves to eat, is obsessed by automobiles and has built some of the biggest business empires in India.
But enough of generalisations. Here’s how the celebrations look so far. My in laws organised ‘dabbas’ or packed lunches from Farohar Caterers in Godrej Baug.
What you see below is a sample of the spread. These are portions I took out for the pictures. The actual food is a lot more and will serve us for lunch and dinner tomorrow.
For starters, we have the intriguingly named, ‘Russian Pattice’. Mashed potato shell stuffed with cheese, garlic bits and chicken, dressed in semolina and deep fried. K has already finished hers. A mark of a good pattice is when the person who really knows her stuff wallops it off in a bite. And looks suggestively at the remaining one. For the records, I did share the rest of my pattice with her.
Then there is ‘white mutton’. The name’s possibly inspired by the left brained Thai who thought up of names ‘red’, ‘green’ and ‘yellow’ curry. The dish captures the identity and history of Parsis so well. The mutton symbolises their love for red meat. The grated coconut, the influence of the West Coast of India where they settled. And the crushed nuts, the arid lands of Iran which they fled from due to religious persecution centuries back. We have saved this for tomorrow’s dinner.
No Parsi celebration is complete without Patrani Machhi. Pomfret (chamna as they call it it), marinated in a coriander, green chilly and grated coconut chutney, wrapped in a banana leaf and steamed. The subject of discussion for many an evening after the feast is over. The fish in question was very fresh and had a nice bite to it. The masala was well balanced too. One of the best Patranis that I have had.
And here’s what gets the Bengali son in law drooling. Pulao daal. Lovely, fine grains of Basmati, a strong, but not overpowering masala paste and meat. Had with daal (lentils). A rather quaint combination. But then who’s complaining? The pulao rice here was an Emperor’s treat which Old Darius would have approved of. The mutton succulent. The potato divine. The daal was the clincher. I am not the sort of person who scrapes off the daal from the bottom of the dish. That’s normally reserved for cheese in pastas. Today, I fingered out and had the remaining daal from the dish we heated it in. That’s how good it was.
As I keep stressing, dhansak, the most famous Parsi dish is not served on happy occasions. This Sunday meal is actually served during funerals. It is the same daal as what you see in the picture. With the meat cooked with the daal in Dhansak and not served separately in the rice as it is in pulao daal. And you have a simple ‘brown’ rice caramelised with fried onions unlike the fancy biriyani like pulao in the picture below.
The food was ordered from Farohar Caterers. And here as my Mom in Law promised them, is their phone numbers: 022 65226118 and 9920862862. I would love to clear the air here. This is not a paid review. We have not got a discount. But no good has come to any man, in any culture, in any religion, in any nation, by saying no to his mother in law. Plus she did treat us to this feast. My understanding is that all the food cost about Rs 400 (8 USD) and, as I said, lasted the two of us over two meals.
Check this article on Parsi Khabar to know more about the festival of Navroze.