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They would be going to Cama Baug where Parsi catering diva Tanaz Godiwala would have set shop to hand out Navroze food orders to those who had booked them.
Navroze is the spring festival which originated in Iran and is celebrated by Zoroastrians in India too. Navroze is not the Parsi New Year contrary to popular belief. The Parsi New Year falls in the second half of the year. Some of their fellow Zoroastrians, the Iranis, celebrate Navroze as their new year sticking to Persian traditions. Unlike the Parsis, the Iranis have come to Mumbai more recently from Iran and possibly hold the customs of their native land closer to their hearts.
While wearing new clothes and going to the local fire temple is a big part of Navroze celebrations, food too features high on the list of priorities on this day.
As my wife, a Parsi, wryly observed, Parsis will call in for a Parsi lunch from a Parsi caterer for lunch, Godiwala being the most sought after, then watch a Gujarati play in the evening and head to a Chinese restaurant for dinner!
Don’t even think of scoring a table at South Mumbai’s Chinese favourites such as Ling’s Pavilion or China Garden on Navroze.
The one Navroze evening when Nelson Wang of China Garden suddenly announced that dinners for all Parsis there (pretty much all the guests that evening) would be on the house that night has become a part of Parsi folklore.
So what are the dishes that Parsis love on Navroze?
The eeda chutney pattice (egg and chutney croquettes) make for good starters. Any Parsi celebration must have patrani macchi (banana leaf wrapped steamed pomfret) though saas ni macchi (pomfret in a white sauce) has its fans too. Dhan dar kolmi nu patio (rice with a bland dal and pungent prawn pickle) is a special favourite. Don’t even think of dhansak on Navroze. Dhansak is a dish traditionally served on the 4th day after a funeral and is hence kept away on happy occasions. A mutton pulao dal (the dal is similar to dhansak sans the meat) steps in instead. For dessert it has to be lagan nu custard.
In a Chinese restaurant, the clichéd Parsi approved order would be crab sweet corn soup, sweet and sour prawns and chicken fried rice.
So how can you celebrate Navroze if you are non-Parsi and don’t have access to Godiwala’s, or Navroze dinners at clubs such as Parsi Gymkhana and Elphinstone Club and can’t get a table at Ling’s either?
Well here are some of the options you can try:
Legendary Parsi archaeologist, cook book author and caterer Katy Dalal is no more and her son and daughter in law run the enterprise. They do a special Navroze menu and deliver all over Mumbai. Kurush Dalal’s No is 9820136511 and they are on twitter as @katys_kitchen Calling is a better idea.
Perzen is a young food blogger who blogs at Bawi Bride and has recently moved full time into catering. She is based at Dadar and offers a takeaway Navroze menu (21st, 22nd March). She is also doing a Navroze Nostalgia Nosh pop up meal at her place through Trekurious on 22nd March. Perzen can be reached on 9819285720 and at firstname.lastname@example.org
Zenobia is based at Dadar’s parsi colony and is popular for her Parsi styled pickles and does a special Navroze menu. You have to pick up the food from her place. Her no is 4135650.
Ideal Corner, Gunbow Street
Pervez Irani does a special take away Navroze menu which you have to pick up at the restaurant. Or you can join in the queue and eat at the restaurant itself. The seating is cramped and there is no aircon but even usually picky Parsis swear by the food here. Their number is 22615264.
Jimmy Boy, Horniman Circle
They usually do a Navroze menu and unlike most other Irani cafes are open for dinner.
Kalyan Karmakar authors the popular award winning blog, Finely Chopped and is an authority on the food of Mumbai. His extensive knowledge of the city's food scene has been featured in publications such as Femina, Mumbai Mirror and BCC Good Food. He was one of the founding critics of EazyDiner's Mumbai team.
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