Isn’t there anything beyond all the salli and eedu? Chef Danish Merchant of JW Marriott, Sahar, Mumbai and Perzen Patel, of the Bawi Bride, rustle through recipe books and present six Parsi dishes that the city’s eateries do not offer. 

In Coversation With Perzen Patel

The dishes I have selected are slow-cooked dishes and are treasure troves of memories. Slow-cooked dishes always allow for conversations and are the heroes of celebrations. The Chicken Bafat has a similar flavour profile to the vindaloo, but is more sour than spicy. The Malido is a signature Parsi dish that all Parsis love to eat but few know how to cook, just like the Dar ni Poris and Khajur ni Gharis that are soon going to be lost for the younger generation. Due to the hard work involved in making it (it takes anywhere from 1.5 – 3 hours), it’s an activity that was usually relegated to the elders of the house. The Prawn Patio brings back fond memories of my Mamaiji, who loved her fish and her piquant gravies filled with jaggery and vinegar.


TATRELO PRAWN PATIO


Ingredients

  • 300 gms (about 30) prawns
  • 1 finely chopped onion
  • 1 tbsp crushed garlic
  • 2 chillies
  • 2 tsp dhana jeera masala
  • 1 tsp turmeric powder
  • 2.5 tsp red chilli powder
  • 4- 5 chopped tomatoes
  • 2 tbsp oil
  • 2-inch knob of jaggery
  • 4 tbsp brown vinegar
  • Handful of coriander
  • Salt to taste

Method

Marinate the prawns in turmeric, red chilli powder and salt. Heat the oil, add the crushed garlic and fry the onions until golden brown. Chop chillies and add them into the pan along with the jeera powder. Once the spices start giving out their aroma, tip in the chopped tomatoes and mix everything together. Cover and let this cook for 5 – 6 minutes until the tomatoes are done. Add the jaggery, vinegar and prawns and mix well. Cook on medium heat until the prawns are done and the gravy has become semi-dry. Garnish with coriander and serve hot with steamed rice.


CHICKEN BAFAT


Ingredients

  • 1 kg boneless chicken thighs
  • 2 onions finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp ginger-garlic paste
  • 6 medium potatoes
  • 4 tomatoes chopped
  • 2-inch knob of jaggery
  • 4 tbsp ghee
  • 15 dry red Kashmiri chillies
  • 2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 11/2” piece cinnamon
  • 6 cloves
  • 6 green cardamoms
  • 2 tsp black peppercorn
  • 75 – 100ml vinegar

Method

Marinate the chicken thighs in salt and ginger-garlic paste and set aside. Grind all the spices with the vinegar. Heat half the fat and fry onions till light brown. Add the meat and the potatoes and cook till they are three-quarters done. Next, fry the spice paste. Add tomatoes, jaggery and salt and cook on low heat for 1 – 2 minutes. Add the meat along with most of the stock, mix well and simmer for 10 minutes, allowing the moisture to reduce to form a thick gravy.


MALIDO


Ingredients

  • 1 cup semolina
  • ½ cup wheat flour
  • 1.5 cups sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 20 gms almonds boiled, sliced and fried
  • 20 gms charoli (chironji seeds) fried
  • 20 gms raisins fried
  • 1.5-tablespoon cardamom – nutmeg powder
  • 1-tablespoon ghee for frying the rotis
  • 250 gms pure ghee
  • ½ tsp vanilla essence

Method

Mix the rawa and flour with ghee and water. knead into a firm dough. Make 2 – 3 rotis and fry them. Dry grind rotis to breadcrumb consistency. Boil sugar and water to make a thick syrup and add the ground rotis. Reduce the heat and keep stirring non-stop, adding all the remaining ghee little by little. Once it forms a smooth, soft dough-like consistency, remove from the stove. When the mixture has cooled a little, whisk the eggs and start adding them into the mixture. Add the cardamom and nutmeg powder as well as the vanilla essence. Separately, fry all the dry fruits and top up the malido with the dried fruits. Serve at room temperature by itself or with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.


In Conversation With Chef Danish Merchant

I picked up recipes from my friends’ moms, who used to cook in the kitchen while we kids would play video games in the living room. This was when I was barely 10-12 years old. We used to live in the Dadar Parsi colony, in Mumbai, and I was surrounded by various families, bringing their individual influences. It was quite an exciting place to be, a sort of a melting pot.

I was introduced to various dishes and combinations of spices, which unfortunately are lost and have died out with the family matriarchs. For example, I remember something called the Karachi Khow Suey. My mother is from Karachi and this form of khow suey is something the Memons who travelled to Burma concocted. It is a wonderful marriage of distinctive influences. I used to serve it during our brunches and it was a major hit.

Unfortunately, Indians do not enjoy sharing recipes and unlike European cuisine, proper documentation and standardisation of recipes does not happen in our country. Hence, restaurants do not serve these dishes and food lovers do not get to experience them any more.


JARDALOO CHICKEN


Ingredients

  • 4 full chicken legs
  • 50 gms ginger-garlic paste
  • 30 gms green chilli paste
  • 150 gms yoghurt
  • 450 gms onions
  • 1200 gms tomato puree
  • 2.5 tsp turmeric powder
  • 2.5 tsp chilli powder
  • 2 tsp garam masala
  • 3 tsp salt
  • 5 – 6 bay leaves
  • 8 cloves
  • 5-6 star anise
  • 40 ml vinegar
  • 30 ml oil
  • 100 gms sali
  • 50 gms jaggery
  • 80 gms apricots

Method

Marinate chicken overnight in gingergarlic paste, green chilli paste and yogurt. Soak the apricots in vinegar. In a pan, add oil and fry the onions. Add all the spices and cook for 2 minutes. Then, add the tomato and the chicken and the jaggery and let the chicken cook. Once it is cooked completely, add vinegar. Simmer for two more minutes and add the apricots and cook until apricots are soft. Serve with sali.


GUVARFARI


Ingredients

  • 1500 gms boiled cluster beans (gawaar)
  • 20 ml oil
  • 2 small onions
  • 1.5 tsp mustard seeds
  • 25 gms ginger-garlic paste
  • 25 gms green chilli-garlic paste
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 2 tsp red chilli powder
  • 2.5 tsp dhana jeera powder
  • 2 tsp salt 120 gms jaggery
  • 2 tbsp vinegar

Method

Cut the beans into small 1-inch pieces and refrigerate. In a pressure cooker, add oil and add the mustard seeds until they pop. Add the onions, ginger-garlic and chilli-garlic paste and fry till golden. Add the rest of the spices and mix well. Add jaggery and the beans. Pressure cook for 10 minutes. Add the vinegar and mix well. Cook for 2 minutes to let the flavours combine.


ANJEER MA MARGHI


Ingredients

  • 4 full chicken legs
  • 20 figs
  • 210 gms onions
  • 2 tbsp ghee
  • 2 tsp shah jeera
  • 1 stick cinnamon
  • 70 ml cream
  • 20 gms ginger-garlic paste
  • 20 gms green chilli paste
  • 200 gms yoghurt
  • 60 gms cashews
  • 3 tsp red chilli powder
  • 3 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp garam masala
  • 2 tsp dhana jeera masala
  • 6 whole kashmiri chillies
  • Strands of saffron

Method

Make a spice paste and mix with the marinade. Coat chicken with this combined marinade. Soak figs in hot water for 2 hours. Heat ghee in a pan, add the jeera, cinnamon and when it crackles, add the chopped onions and fry till golden brown. Add the marinated chicken and figs. Mix lightly and cook on high heat for about 3 minutes. Add half cup of water and saffron, stir and cook on high heat for 5-7 minutes or till a thick gravy is formed and the chicken is tender. Stir in cream.