The Parsi Food Walk 2014
Was back in Fort,this time for a Parsi Food Walk by Finely Chopped.Parsis and Iranis both follow the Zoroastrian faith and migrated to India from Iran.Parsis came earlier.They landed up in Sanjan in Gujarat.Legend is that the ruling king told them that the place was already populated by many people.The Parsi representative asked for a full glass of milk and then added sugar to it without causing any milk to spill.This was to show the king that they would blend in just the same and add sweetness to the land that they had arrived in.
We gathered at The Bombay Store and introduced ourselves,where we were from and why we were at the walk.Then we set off to our first halt :Ideal Corner
Parsis love cars and bikes.A Parsi owned vehicle had greater value as they maintain them so well.Ideal Corner used to be a bike showroom earlier.
We tried the Akuri here....scrambled eggs with masala,slow cooked on a hot pan to render it creamy.It was outstanding.
We also tried the Bharuchi Akuri which is creamier,less spicy and has potato and almond slivers.Bharuch is a town in Gujarat where many Parsis live.I don't know what the connection of egg in Parsi cuisine is but it is there in a whole lot of their dishes including over vegetables.
Then we walked.This walk involves a lot of walking which is a good thing as one doesn't feel stuffed.Kalyan had also taken care that we try just one dish in each place.
We headed to the Yazdani Bakery where we had Irani chai and bun maska.This place used to be a Japanese bank earlier and therefore the Pagoda shape.
We were allowed into the baking section and we saw that they had two ovens....the wood fire one
and the metal one as shown below...
Next we walked by another fire temple.We weren't allowed inside.We had one Parsi participant Benaifer who told us about the feeling of peace you sense inside with the fire burning and the scent of sandalwood all around
Kalyan pointed out to the architecture of surrounding buildings which had images of Parsis.Have passed this so many times but never noticed.
Pherozeshah Mehta road in Fort is named after the famous Parsi lawyer.There is a statue of another legendary Parsi,Dadabhai Naoroji, which my relative has sculpted in 1925.Tatas,Godrejs and Wadias are synonymous with industry today.Parsis are known as much for their joie de vivre as their philanthropy
We saw the remnants of Fort (see above).We looked up various buildings to see the statues on top.
The statue below was also made by my relative....it represents the martyrs of the agitation against the division of Bombay Presidency into Gujarat and Maharashtra.The chowk is now called Hutatma Chowk for the same.
Then we went to Military Cafe with its pretty checked tablecloth.It is an Irani cafe at the corner of a building.These corners were considered inauspicious by Hindus but Iranis bought them and set up restaurants.Iranis set up restaurants and Parsis are more into catering.Wonder why.
Here we tried a tasting portion of the Kheema Ghotala which is minced meat with egg scrambled into it.We also had Caramel Custard said to have European origins,some say French and some British.As you know Parsis love the British.Aapri Queen and all.
I loved the way Brian and Jean from America and Patricia and Eric from Canada tried everything and enjoyed it.Jean was stunned at the vast variety and diversity of "Indian Food".We had great inputs on food from Shanky (who cycled to Fort) and Aditya throughout the walk.
Finally we reached Jimmy Boy where a Lagan Nu Bhonu (Parsi wedding feast) was set for us
We started with a carrot pickle and then steamed fish in green chutney which I skipped cos I don't like green chutney in general.
Poorna is from Kerala and she enjoyed the Parsi rotlis with jardaloo (apricot) chicken,a sweet and sour gravy.The Persian influence of adding berries or fruits to food is evident here.Then there was pulao and dal
Benaifer is a typical Parsi,full of life and laughter.She has promised to call us all for her wedding bhonu when that happens (listen all you single Parsi men).The Parsi community is dwindling so their panchayat has various schemes to promote same community marriages. Benaifer has also trained us in the art of preparing the gift envelope for the same :D Apparently one should give a little more than the amount that the caterer charges for the meal.Okay,done!
At the end of the meal came this contraption to wash hands which Poorna's hubbie Binu used so I asked Binaifer if that was typical Parsi.She said yes.I asked her what it was called.She said "washing hands" :| That is Parsi humor for you...hahaha!