Regional cuisines have suddenly started to blossom in the last couple of years. The emphasis has shifted from Chinese or Italian food to more locally available treats. Parsi Cuisine is one such regional cuisine that has its fair share of enthusiasts that enjoy the food. Sadly, it never goes beyond a few popular dishes. Chances are, you've never ever eaten or even heard about Parsi food like dhansak, sali boti, patra ni macchi and lagan nu custard. Apart from several other dishes, it's the Parsi desserts that people are yet to discover and embrace. The Lagan Nu Custard (Custard served traditionally at weddings) is by far the most popular. It’s a creamy custard full of nuts and a delight to eat. One of the tastiest custards can be found at Belgaum Ghee Depot in Nana Chowk or at any Parsi wedding on the dinner menu.
Sagan no Sev is fried vermicelli generously cooked in ghee and a mix of dry fruits and nuts and is served at any auspicious occasion. While traditionally it is eaten on its own, most Parsi folks enjoy it with a scoop of chilled sweetened dahi. Every birthday, anniversary, wedding day or celebration, this sev is made with much excitement. The Sagan no Sev is available at RTI outlets in the city and incase it isn't there on a particular day you can place an order.
Chapat is what is best described as a Parsi-styled crepe. It is a mix of eggs, flour, nutmeg, cardamom, sugar and milk whisked into a thin batter and spread out over a heated pan and cooked much like a French crepe or a very thin dosa even. Chapats are sweeter and thinner than a regular pancake and served at tea time or for dessert. While eaten plain they are a treat but a lot will further garnish these with jams, jellys honey or whip cream - much like a regular crepe or pancake. Chapats can be found at RTI and their outlets across the city but the very best are found at P.A.C. in Nana Chowk that serve plenty of traditional Parsi meals and snacks.
Ravo is a semolina dessert that once again is usually made on a special occasion and usually referred to as Sagan no Ravo. It is similar to sheera but the Parsis add a bit of vanilla to flavour it further. Ravo is slightly difficult to get from a regular shop but well known caterers Rhea and Kurush Dalal of Katy's Kitchen take orders for Ravo.
Malido is another sweet dish that not too many people are aware of. You'll find it in most Parsi houses and is often placed along with fruit during prayer time, almost like an equivalent of prashad during a puja. Malido is usually made by the priest’s wife and is best when made at home. It's a heavy dish and can't all be eaten at one go. It has semolina, flour, sugar, ghee, eggs, khoya, saffron, rosewater, vanilla essence and chopped nuts. It is absolutely delicious and if you can’t get hold of a Parsi friend to get some for you then ask any of the Parsi food caterers and order some.
Note - P.A.C and RTI are two such outlets that have a detailed monthly menu of different types of Parsi food and almost everything is available there. In case it isn't you can always place and order and they will make it for you.
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Better known as the Tiny Taster, Roxanne is an internationally respected blogger and expert on the Mumbai food scene. She has hosted many events, including the Upper Crust Food & Wine Show and travels the world, sharing her knowledge and gaining more experience.