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anil

Parsi cuisine

79 posts in this topic

I surprisingly bumped into a very old friend of mine from my youth - here in the streets of NYC. One thing lead to another, and we got talking about missing dhansakand patra ni machi. Since, his mother-tounge is gujurati; born and raised in Mumbai - and we know that parsis came to India from Iran few centuries ago and settled initially in Gujurat - What is their cuisine ?

My friend says that it is a confluence of Iranian and Gujurati techniques and some local ingredients adapted over generations ?


anil

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i would agree with your friends assessment, although i think the gujarati influence is quite mild. i see gujarati food as being predominantly vegetarian and paris food is not at all, is it?

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i would agree with your friends assessment, although i think the gujarati influence is quite mild. i see gujarati food as being predominantly vegetarian and paris food is not at all, is it?

I think there something more subtle and complex going on. Afterall all parsis list Gujarati as their mother-tounge. Note that Bohris also speak Gujarati while their food is definitely non-vegetarian.

I have to give this some more thought.


anil

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My friend says that it is a confluence of Iranian and Gujurati techniques and some local ingredients adapted over generations ?

Parsi foods like Mughlai foods is an evolved cuisine. It is one of the most subtlest cuisines come across in the sub-continent. Being a largely mild mannered community with no overpowering influence on any part of the society, their foods too assimilated well, with local food habits.

Who would not want to be invited for an authentic "Lagan nu Bhojan", where it is widely believed guests would fast before attending the wedding feast. It could be a cruel joke, but the feast is something for which I would starve.

Meat and rice eating amongst Parsis is definitely a Persian habit. Sauces in their foods certainly have a Gujarati touch in it being sweet and sour, although the Parsis use Vinegar in their foods.

DhanShak - is a prime example of Gujarati influence in Parsi foods.

:smile:

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The Parsis I understand were persians who fled to gujrat when they were invaded by the Turks. The story goes that they sent an emissary to the ruler of Gujrat or that general area but he said that he could not help them as he had no room for them. Upon this the Persians sent the messenger back with a glass of water to represent Gujrat and a pinch of salt ( or sugar, I forget which) to represent the Persians. he added the salt to the water and explained to the ruler that they did not need any room and would assimilale among the gujratis. The ruler was so pleased with this that he accepted them and with time they became known as parsis.

Jordaloo is good example of the blend of the cuisines of these two cultures. With typically persian flavours of cardamon, cinnamon, apricots and vinegar married with the sweetness of gujrati cuisine.


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....... Upon this the Persians sent the messenger back with a glass of water to represent Gujrat and a pinch of salt ( or sugar, I forget which) to represent the Persians. he added the salt to the water and explained to the ruler that they did not need any room and would assimilale among the gujratis. The ruler was so pleased with this that he accepted them and with time they became known as parsis.

.....

Not water, milk; not salt but sugar.


anil

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Excellent story, that.

BBhasin, Anil, do you know how they got to Bombay? They seem more concentrated there then anywhere else in India. Was it just a natural migration to a trade center? It almost seems too concentrated for that.

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Excellent story, that.

BBhasin, Anil, do you know how they got to Bombay? They seem more concentrated there then anywhere else in India. Was it just a natural migration to a trade center? It almost seems too concentrated for that.

There was no Gujarat as a state - You knew that :smile: (Or am I pegging my old-age) State of Bombay was split into two - Gujarat and Maharastra in the 60s. They settled in the port city of surat.


anil

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The Parsis I understand were persians who fled to gujrat when they were invaded by the Turks.

My understanding is that their presence in India is much older than that and dates from the time when the Persian Empire was conquered by the Arabs.

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The Parsis I understand were persians who fled to gujrat when they were invaded by the Turks.

My understanding is that their presence in India is much older than that and dates from the time when the Persian Empire was conquered by the Arabs.

That is my understanding as well.

And they came to Bombay and what is known as Gujarat today for the usage of those ports for trade.

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The Parsis I understand were persians who fled to gujrat when they were invaded by the Turks. The story goes that they sent an emissary to the ruler of Gujrat or that general area but he said that he could not help them as he had no room for them. Upon this the Persians sent the messenger back with a glass of water to represent Gujrat and a pinch of salt ( or sugar, I forget which) to represent the Persians. he added the salt to the water and explained to the ruler that they did not need any room and would assimilale among the gujratis. The ruler was so pleased with this that he accepted them and with time they became known as parsis.

Jordaloo is good example of the blend of the cuisines of these two cultures. With typically persian flavours of cardamon, cinnamon, apricots and vinegar married with the sweetness of gujrati cuisine.

The story I would hear in Bombay was about a glass of milk and sugar.

The Parsis the kind was told would be like the sugar that would sweeten the milk and still remain invisible.

The key words were sweet and invisible.

They certainly are great people and sadly enough, unlike many people that suffered greatly in such genocides and holocausts, they remained invisble and silent. They say it was the best thing to do.. I wonder.

And now, we have sadly, no more than somewhere between a 100 - 200 thousand parsis in the world. It is sad.

I have always loved their culture and food.. and one part of me worries a lot about what the world will do decades from now when little is left of it....

I was in Denver in a grocery store and I got all excited as I saw a Parsi store owner. She was in tears seeing my excitement in having found a Parsi in Denver of all places.

We had a long conversation... traded numbers and emails and are going to be in touch now.

I love Parsi foods... and I love what they have done in India.

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anil maybe you should become a food fashion forecaster? this from this morning's times mag. yum


Drinking when we are not thirsty and making love at all seasons: That is all there is to distinguish us from the other Animals.

-Beaumarchais

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anil maybe you should become a food fashion forecaster? this from this morning's times mag. yum

I've barely woken up - Gotta step out and get the paper :biggrin: Will follow up. Maybe these guests hanging around in this board are getting inspired by us :cool:


anil

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anil maybe you should become a food fashion forecaster? this from this morning's times mag. yum

Thanks for this link, lissome.

I just finished reading the piece.

Was in tears. The Parsees are an amazing lot. And their charm is unique in this world that expends so much time in hatred, anger, meaningless comparisons and dwelling in the past.

How happily and fully these Parsees live knowing they are near extinct and have only more "silence" and "invisibility" to embrace.

They celebrate life as we all must learn to do.

I enjoyed the piece thoroughly and also found in it parts of all that we all have mentioned before on this thread.

It gave me great faith in us eGulleteers and what we share here.

Thanks all for being so very generous.

And Anil, you were ahead of the times for sure.

Thanks for this thread.

Now I need to go dream of lagan nu custard. A custard made for special occasions.

I have vivid memories of Parsee feasts. Food is a HUGE deal and a focal point of all gatherings of these lovely people.

PS: The article puts a number of 130 K on the count of Parsees in this world. :sad:

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I am ashamed to say that my experiance parsi food is almost non existant. I have only ever eaten Dhansak.

When I was at boarding school in Ajmer, Rajasthan, we were allowed one outing Sunday a month. Some kids spent their whole term inside the MCP (Mayo College Prison) wall but some like me whose parents lived too far away from Ajmer, had local guardians. My LG and fairy god mother was Gul aunty.

One Sunday a month the blue car would come to collect all fo her wards. (A shifting population of anywhere between 20 - 30).

Wed arrive and her retinue of house boys would be ready with a tray laden with lemon squash ( I still import mine from Ajmer). Wed sip these while wandering around the grounds of Alu villa killing time till lunch by reading, gossiping or talking to the boys. The biggest contraband at Mayo was boys!Even tuck (food) and money from home came second. though (once the accross the wall romances between the boys and girls schools grew out of hand, the outing sundays were seperated and only boys related by blood were allowed. It did eliminate the romances but it did cut them down greatly).

Anyways I digress, the lunch usually consisted of Dhansak a meat and lentil stew served with a brown rice and the softest kebabs (meatballs). To add an astringent quality to the meal was cachumber (tomatoes, cucumbers, onions, corriander all chopped fine seasoned with salt and pepper and dressed in lemon juice - green chillies chopped fine are also added but optional).

Vikram you are welcome to step in and (pretty please) elaborate on this and other Parsi food. I am all eyes! A recipe for dhansak would be lovely, also how does the rice get brown and flavourful? Is there a book on the history and evolution of Parsi food?

Rushina

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Rushina, I guess you should get invited to a Bawa wedding (I gather it is becoming a rarity in Mumbai) or befriend a Parsi.


anil

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I know Anil, I know.

When I was in Bombay I used to go to a Bawa School, J B Petit but have lost contact with most of my friends from there. Had a bawa family friend who used to make amazing Akuri and Lagan nu Custard. He'd go on a cooking binge and we would all benifit. Unfortunately he has also lost touch!

Mom was invited to a parsi wedding recently but it clashed with another appointment I had so I did not go. Thank God though cos the food was awful.

Rushina

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Being a Parsi myself, the cookbook I would recommend (after my Mom's hand written cookbook) would be "Jamva Chaloji" (Literal translation - Please come to eat, Contextual translation - Let the good times begin :rolleyes: . This is an announcement that is typically made at wedding or Navjote ceremonies, where the 500-1500 guests are invited to dinner in typically 3 seatings through the night).

This book is available at Amazon - http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/search-h...0046446-1481410

Enjoy

Percy

P.S: If people are interested in Parsi recipes, I can post a few, including a very quick and easy to make Dhansak.

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P.S: If people are interested in Parsi recipes, I can post a few, including a very quick and easy to make Dhansak.

Oooooooh, please do!

The restaurant I went to in Halifax used to serve absolutely amazing dhansak; I'd love to have a good recipe or two.


Fat=flavor

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Being a Parsi myself, the cookbook I would recommend (after my Mom's hand written cookbook) would be "Jamva Chaloji" (Literal translation - Please come to eat, Contextual translation - Let the good times begin :rolleyes: . This is an announcement that is typically made at wedding or Navjote ceremonies, where the 500-1500 guests are invited to dinner in typically 3 seatings through the night).

This book is available at Amazon - http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/search-h...0046446-1481410

Enjoy

Percy

P.S: If people are interested in Parsi recipes, I can post a few, including a very quick and easy to make Dhansak.

Percy - Welcome to the India forum and what a first post.. an offer that no one can turn down-- welcome and looking forward to learing more about parsi food from you


Monica Bhide

A Life of Spice

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I just finished reading the piece.

Was in tears.  The Parsees are an amazing lot. 

...

...

How happily and fully these Parsees live knowing they are near extinct and have only more "silence" and "invisibility" to embrace.

They celebrate life as we all must learn to do.

...

...

Now I need to go dream of lagan nu custard.  A custard made for special occasions.

Suvir,

As a parsi, let me first thank you for your kind words. Yes, it is sad that our culture is slowly fading away :sad:, however, we pride ourselves in significant contibutions to society (especially in India), despite our community's population :blush:.

The Parsi's in the US are trying hard to preserve their culture by creating local Zoroastrian communities (more at FEZANA).

Have you tried making Lagan nu custard? I have not tried it for a while, so maybe I will give it a shot this weekend and post the results.

Cheers

Percy

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