Parsi cuisine is a reflection of cultural assimilation across centuries. Indulge in some of the delectable dishes to understand the history behind the food.
The Parsi community, as is common knowledge, has a rather interesting history. Fleeing religious persecution in Iran, they landed up in India and eventually grew to become an integral part of India’s cultural landscape.
Alongside the adoption and assimilation of local customs and culture, Parsi food too, evolved over the years. While it started out with heavy Middle Eastern influences, owing to its origins, with the arrival in India and eventual interaction with not just local communities but also visitors from different parts of the world, it grew to adapt both new ingredients and techniques.
Meat, pulses and dried fruits were part of the Iranian heritage whereas India, where the community settled mostly along the western coast, is where vegetables and fish were integrated. Dishes such as patra ni machchi, which uses pomfret fish wrapped in banana leaves, is a prime example of the Indian influence on Parsi food.
With the arrival of the Portuguese and British, a few more things were added to the mix. The Portuguese brought in vinegar, potatoes and chillies, and the Parsi fascination with salli (fried potato sticks) is well known. From the British, the Parsis adopted new formats of making desserts, with wonderful results such as lagan nu custard and chapat.
The flavour range of any Parsi dish is wide, including spicy, sour and sweet notes, with the help of various ingredients. It represents a wholesome rounding up of different cultural influences, and reflects the community’s essence too.
With Navroz just around the corner, it’s a great time to indulge in Parsi delicacies to celebrate the community. Of course, there are plenty of celebrations at various properties across Mumbai, the financial capital and also, one of the few places in India with a considerable concentration of Parsis.
JW Marriott Mumbai Sahar has a Navroz Brunch on Sunday, March 21st. On the spread will be traditional Parsi delicacies such as salli boti, prawn patia, patra ni machchi, salli par edu and falooda, among others (call 9167615611 for reservations).
Gallops, one of Mumbai’s landmark restaurants, has taken the celebrations a step further, with a special menu on offer until March 31st. Alongside giving the dishes on the menu some rather interesting names such as Aflatoon Akuri and Dhan Dar Prawn Patio, the restaurant has also brought down some trademark ingredients and dishes from the ancient Parsi capital of Udvada in Gujarat (call 8928947188 for reservations).
So, dig into Parsi cuisine this Navroz and indulge in a bit of history.