The Parsi cuisine is rich, in terms of taste as well as legacy. And Goans can take a bite of this cuisine at the Parsi Food Festival that is on till August 26
Janice Savina Rodrigues |NT BUZZ
The Parsi New Year or the Jamshedi Navroj according to the Shahenshai calendar was celebrated yesterday and the Parsis celebrate the day with a lavish spread. If you don’t have Parsi friends but love the rich and delicious food cooked in Parsi homes, head to the Cidade de Goa for the Parsi Food festival.
Those who have lived in Maximum City, Mumbai, will find themselves trotting down memory lane just having a read at the menu. The festival has some dishes that will bring forth the flavours found in the Iranian cafes of Lamington Road or Dhobi Talao, but more so of those found in traditional Parsi houses.
The chefs have done a great deal of research, even consulting some Parsi families for their expertise on how their food should taste. “In fact, we were instructed not to use boneless chicken for our Salli Marghi, as that is the way they would ideally make it at home. The Parsis like their meat on the bone!” says chef Gangadhar. So don’t be disheartened if you find a bone in your bite, because that’s the way to eat any authentic cuisine.
Coming to the food; it is delicious, and it is rich! Be warned, the food is laden with rich ingredients and a little heavy on the tummy. Our starters – Kheema na Pattice and Chutney na Pattice – were delicately flavoured to bring out the flavours of the main ingredients, the lamb ‘kheema’ and the potato with spices, respectively. If you’ve visited a Parsi restaurant, you will know that they love their chutneys, and these are kept on the table all through the festival.
The Parsis were probably the first to experiment with batter fried chicken, before the Americans took over. This ‘fast food’ that the bawas make can definitely make anyone give the commercially sold fried chicken a rain check. The Marghina Farcha – a perfectly spiced crumb and egg coated piece of fried chicken – is something kids will enjoy too. Perfectly cooked to make the meat juicy as well as fall off the bone easily, this farcha was my favourite.
The mains were a delight too, with the spicy curry ‘Salli Marghi’, topped with crispy potato straws. As mentioned earlier, do keep in mind that this is not made to please the regular five star palate, but to keep to the authentic cooking and thus don’t be disheartened if you find a bone; the dish is really wholesome and tastes really good.
The Patrani Machchi, the Parsi counterpart of the Malayali Meen Pollichathu – fish cooked wrapped in banana leaf – is what those craving for a bite of fish should try. Unlike the Kerala version, the Parsi version is made with a green masala with a hint of mint for the added zing. The fish is steamed so all those who believe in healthy eating, can indulge in this marine goodness. The other traditionally Parsi delicacies like the Laganshala stew and Masala daar and the Gosht nu Pulao are a delight. You can also opt for the Brun Pao Maska if you like the crispy pao as an accompaniment.
However full you may be, do not skip the dessert, and with limited option it does make it a little bit easier to choose. There’s the semolina halwa called ‘ravo’ – a rich treat for those who love the homemade sweet dish, loaded with milk and mixed nuts. Ubiquitous to a Parsi wedding the Lagan nu Custard also makes it way to your table, in its distinct nutmeg flavour that overpowers your taste buds. The Persian falooda too is here as a dessert, though I’d rather have it as a separate snack.
This meal is truly a journey; and a tribute to a dwindling community! I do hope that their legacy survives the test of time, with the distinct flavours and delicious offerings.
(The Parsi Food Festival will be held at Cidade de Goa till August 26 for dinner only.)