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A variety of delicious Parsi cuisine

Monday, March 18, 2013
By Dr. Shernaz Baji Avari

Our love for food and feasting is everlasting. No wonder we are often referred to as ‘Khata Pita Loko’ who love all the good things of life, food being the main priority. Our menu delights the palate and is as heart warming, endearing and vibrant as our community. And oh yes, a Parsi veg. (unless he is a pucca veg.) normally eats fish and eggs on a daily basis but avoids chicken, mutton and organ meats.

Each recipe can be modified according to your personal taste and the ingredients available. This is the way I normally make it. I admit I am not an authentic or a very skilled cook nevertheless, I assure you you will enjoy making these dishes and relishing them too. If you are making any dish for the first time, taste it before laying the table. If you are inviting guests, first have the feel of it, with your family members. They are your real judges. Chalo tare, Parsi bhonu khava. In the next supplement some more Parsi dishes will follow...

Gravy Cutlets

  • 500 gms. Minced meat or soya granules. Soya granules have to be soaked in salted water and then squeezed out.
  • 3 to 4 potatoes boiled and mashed in salt, butter and pepper powder.
  • ½ cup coriander leaves, finely chopped
  • ½ cup mint leaves finely chopped
  • 1 tsp. turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp. chilli powder
  • 1 tsp. garam masala
  • 1 or 2 tsp. meat masala
  • 2 green chillies de-seeded and chopped
  • 1 tsp. amchur powder or juice of half a lime
  • 1 tsp. ginger-garlic paste
  • 2 eggs
  • Breadcrumbs

Marinate the minced meat or soya granules with all the above masalas including coriander and mint leaves, adding salt to taste. Mix in the boiled and mashed potatoes. Flatten out into oval shaped cutlets. Press into bread crumbs on both sides. Beat the eggs till fluffy. Dip each cutlet into a pan of hot oil and fry till golden brown on both sides. Keep them immediately on a tissue paper to soak out the excess oil.

For the Tomato Gravy: Take 5 big ripe red tomatoes. Put them in your mixer grinder adding 4 garlic cloves, 1 tsp. or less of cardamom powder, a pinch of cinnamom powder, 1 tsb. of white cornflour, salt and jaggery to taste.

Heat the mixture in a vessel till the gravy turns sweet and thick. The gravy and the cutlets have to be relished together, with each morsel to enjoy the combined flavours. Ideal for vegetarians too.

Sali Murghi (Chicken with potato sticks)

  • 1 kg. boneless and skinless chicken pieces
  • Make a thick paste with
  • 1 tbsp. ginger-garlic paste
  • 1 tsp. cumminseeds
  • 1 twig curry leaves
  • 1 tsp. turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp. chilli powder
  • 1 tsp. cardamom powder
  • 1 tsp. cinnamom powder
  • 1 tsp. garam masala powder
  • 1 tsp. chicken masala powder
  • 3 to 4 whole black peppercorns
  • 2 to 3 big onions chopped
  • One big packet of fine potato sticks
  • Salt to taste

Coat the chicken pieces with all the above masalas. In a large pan heat oil. Splutter the cumminseeds and curry leaves and add the chicken mix along with the chopped onions. Cook in two cups water and bring it to a boil. Reduce heat, cover the chicken and cook for 20 minutes or till chicken is cooked and the gravy becomes slightly thick. Place the chicken in a serving dish and sprinkle Sali or fried potato sticks. Keep some potato sticks aside for more seasoning.

Papeta Per Eedu (Egg)/Wafer Per Eedu/Sali Per Eedu
The parsis love eggs in any form – omlettes, akoori, hard-boiled, half-boiled, scrambled, in curries, on vegetables like tomatoes, ladies finger or while making kebabs, cutlets or farchas, a Parsi Frig will always be stored with eggs. Most Parsis have atleast one or two eggs a day and never mind the cholesterol. There are always apples, pomegranates, flaxseeds and sunflower seeds to counteract the same!

  • 6 potatoes cut into small and thin wafer sized bits
  • 2 green chillies chopped
  • 1 tsp. ginger-garlic paste
  • 2 big onions
  • ½ tsp. haldi powder
  • ½ tsp. chilli powder
  • 1 or 2 tsp. of chopped coriander leaves\
  • Oil
  • 2 or 3 beaten eggs

In a large pan heat oil and fry onions till they become soft and pink. Add green chillies and the ginger garlic paste and the cut potato slices. Stir fry for a few minutes. Add salt and some water. Cover the lid and cook till the potatoes are done. Sprinkle with chopped coriander and mix in the hot potatoes. Spread 2 to 3 beaten eggs with a pinch of salt over the potatoes. Close the lid and cook till the eggs are well set. In the alternative, you can make a depression in the potato mixture according to the number of people and slide an whole egg.

Wafer-Per-Eedu and Sali-Per-Eedu is a more easy way and can be cooked in a couple of minutes, whenever you don’t have the time to cook an elaborate meal.

Heat sufficient water in a pan. As the water starts coming to a boil add the packet of wafers or Sali. Let the water soak up the wafers or Sali. Don’t use any oil as the wafers and Sali already have oil. Spread whole or beaten eggs on it. Sprinkle coriander leaves and black pepper powder if you like. Cover and cook till eggs are done.

Chicken or Mutton Pulao

  • ½ kilo chicken or mutton pieces
  • 1 tsp. ginger-garlic paste
  • 5 to 6 onions finely chopped, fried and drained
  • Grind together a few cardamoms, cinnamoms, cloves, dhania seeds, jeera seeds, red chillies and black peppercorns (all according to your taste)
  • 1 cup curd
  • ½ tsp. saffron mixed in 3 tsp. of warm water or milk
  • ½ kilo big basmati rice
  • Chicken or meat masala according to taste

Fried big chunks of potato pieces, hard-boiled eggs and some fried onions for garnishing.

Marinate the chicken/mutton pieces into all the above spices along with the curd. Mix with some fried onions.

Heat oil and add the marinated chicken/ mutton pieces. Simmer for sometime till the flesh is tender and red.

Parboil basmati rice in water with ghee, salt and saffrom mix. Add a little cardamom and nutmeg powder, if you like.

Put the chicken/mutton at the bottom of your cooker box. Top it with par boiled rice and steam it for 15 minutes, more time for mutton. Mix both together and serve on a big oval rice plate garnished with fried onions, big chunks of fried potatoes and hard-boiled eggs halved. You can cook the same on a gas stove in a big ‘dekchi’ covering it with a lid or foil and sealing it further with wheat flour paste or in the oven.

Patra-Ni-Machhi
A Parsi delicacy steamed in banana leaves. This receipe made me win the first prize in ‘Midday’ many years back. Fish is always considered auspicious in our community and is often served as the first course in Lagans & Navjotes.

  • 3 to 4 good quality big pomfrets cut into 2 to 3 big slices.
  • The green sweet-sour coconut chutney has to be thickly smeared on the raw and salted fish slices.

The Green Chutney: Add small pieces of dried coconut 1 to 1 and ½ cups. 3 green chillies deseeded, 6 to 8 garlic cloves, a small piece of ginger, 1 tsp. or more of cumminseeds and a little salt. When the chutney becomes a paste in your mixer grinder, add a pinch of haldi powder, one cup coriander leaves, 1 and half tsp. of vinegar, one tsp. of oil and 2 tsp. of sugar. Run the mixer till the chutney is smooth and sweet-sour in taste

Smear salt on the fish pieces and drain. Coat the fish pieces on both the sides with the chutney. Keep aside for 2 hours.

Cut the banana leaves lengthwise, removing the thick stalk in the middle. Wipe the banana leaves with a clean cloth. Spread oil on the banana leaves and place the marinated fish on the leaves. Fold it like a parcel and tie it securely, with white sewing thread.

Steam the fish parcels in a mixture of hot water, vinegar and oil on both sides till the fish is perfectly cooked. Go on adding hot water, oil and vinegar till it is soaked up. Cover the lid while cooking. Serve with hot rotis.

Akoori on Toast
(My children and my grand-children say that I make the best Akoori in town. Well, you can try it my way)

  • 3 to 4 eggs
  • 3 chopped onions
  • 2 green chillies chopped
  • 1 tsp. chopped garlic
  • 1 tsp. ginger-garlic paste
  • ½ tsp. haldi powder
  • ½ tsp. red chilli powder
  • 2 tbsp. chopped coriander leaves
  • Slices of toasted bread (toasted on the roti tawa)

Fry the onions. Don’t let them become crisp or dark brown. Add ginger-garlic paste, green chillies and chopped garlic, and fry for a minute. Add haldi powder and red chilli powder. Add salt. Cool for a couple of minutes. Add the chopped coriander leaves and the eggs. Keep on slow flame and go on mixing the paste till the eggs remain creamy. Keep the hot toasted bread ready and apply the bread mixture on each bread piece. Serve hot.You can put the Akkori into canapés or simply serve with hot bread.

Marghi-Na-Farcha

  • 4 to 6 chicken pieces
  • 2 to 3 eggs
  • 1 lime
  • Bread crumbs
  • Grind to paste

2 red chillies, 2 green chillies, 1 tsp. garam masala, ½ tsp. haldi powder, ½ tsp. chilli powder, 2 big tomatoes, 1 tsp. dhania seeds, 1 tsp. jaggery or sugar, 2 tsp. ginger-garlic paste (grind the paste with vinegar or the juice of 1 lime)

Wash the chicken pieces and apply salt and the ground masala. Fry the paste in oil and simmer for a few minutes. Add the chicken pieces in it and cook till the chicken is tender. Let the well-marinated chicken pieces with the masala cool. Then coat them with breadcrumbs. Dip the chicken pieces in the beaten eggs and deep fry in hot oil till golden brown. Serve with slices of boiled eggs, green salad and potato chips.

Now for some sweet endings:
Caramal Custard

  • 1 litre milk soaked with 2 to 3 bread slices
  • 3 eggs
  • Sugar to taste
  • ½ tsp. cardamom powder
  • ½ tsp. nutmeg pwder
  • 8 to 10 almonds flaked
  • In an aluminium or steel box, spread sugar evenly at the baseof the vessel. After a few seconds on the gas stove, the sugar will start turning brown. See that it is evenly spread and not burnt. Allow the box to cool. Then whisk 3 eggs, sugar, cardamom and nutmeg powder in the milk and blend well with the almond flakes. Pour it over the cooled caramalised sugar. Close the box and pressure cook for 8 to 10 minutes or bake in the oven till golden brown.

Eat, drink and be merry this Navroz.

Falooda
A must specially on Navroze Day at most Irani households. It is very simple to make and most refreshing during the oncoming summer months.

  • 4 tsp. tukmuria seeds
  • Cold milk
  • Rose syrup
  • Boiled vermicelli – 2tbs. in each glass

Soak the tukmuria seeds (available at grocer’s shop) and soak them in sufficient water. After 5 minutes, they will swell. Strain them in a tea-strainer. In a tall glass place one tsp. of tukmaria seeds, add one inch of rose syrup and boiled and sweetened vermicelli. Then pour chilled cold milk. Add a large scoop of vanilla or strawberry icecream. Serve with a long spoon.

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