Parsi cuisine is much more than just Dhansak and Sali Boti. Their love for food goes beyond flavours and the masala they use. Apart from the ingredients used in the preparation of the dishes, there goes a spoonful of pride and love for the culture, along with the learnings passed down from their ancestors. Everything, when blended, gives you what we call an authentic, rich mindful dish. One bite of which will leave every Parsi to reminisce about the story or a fond memory attached to it and every non-Parsi a step closer to their culture.
Food holds a sentimental value and serves more than just the basic purpose associated with it. Of course, not to forget, their eternal and unconditional love for "eggs." You cannot and dare not separate a Parsi from his eggs. They love to add eggs to almost everything they eat. They strongly believe, ‘When in doubt, break an egg on it!' There are dishes such as Bheeda Par Edu, Tomato Par Edu, Sali Par Edu, and only they know what more.
The evolution of Parsi cuisine dates back to the 7-9th century CE when the Persian Zoroastrian immigrants landed and settled on the west coast of India, Gujarat. They are members of a group of followers in India of the Iranian prophet Zoroaster (or Zarathustra). The Parsis, whose name means “Persians,” have descended from Persian Zoroastrians who migrated to India. Parsi cuisine is molded from the ancient culture of Persia. The nuts, dry fruits and shirini (sweet) originate from there, while the Indian touch is added by ginger, garlic, chilies, and spice.
According to tradition, they initially set sail for India and arrived in the 8th century. They settled first at Diu in Kāthiāwār but soon moved to Gujarāt.
After they migrated to Gujarat, the Parsis ate mainly stews, meats, dry fruits, and nuts. This is because their cuisine was mainly dominated by Persian heritage. Foods like saffron, jaggery, and vinegar, as well as ginger, cinnamon, and turmeric — all staples in Parsi cooking — are celebrated in modern times for their health benefits.
They started experimenting with fish and added it to their dynamic list of dishes after settling on the coast. Later, with the British influence in colonial India, they took to European-style snacks and desserts. They made sure to retain their local-cultural touch in everything they adapted.
A significant influence from European and British culture is also found in Parsi cuisine. European influences gave us dishes such as Saas-ni-Macchi, which is a take on the Western “Bechamel” or the white sauce.
When it comes to desserts, the variety is endless. A term that is often used is ‘monu samarva’ (to repair the mouth). Parsi desserts are closely related to British cuisines. Most of it is inspired by colonial India. The Lagan Nu Custard, which takes inspiration from the British caramel custard, is a pudding that will transport you to heaven. The Chapat, which is mostly served with tea, is like a pancake.
Parsi cuisine is as powerful as the culture. It consists of a wide variety of dishes- from Boti Sotis to Saas Ni Machi they make it all. The preparation style has a resemblance to everywhere they've traveled through. Their cuisine has evolved into a unique regional cuisine resulting from an amalgamation of Persian, Indian, and British influences over the period.
The sweet and sour ingredients that they love to add have given us some remarkable dishes such as Kolmi-No-Patio (a sweet and sour prawn curry), or a Jardaloo-Ma-Gosht (Mutton cooked with apricots). Pickles and achars are the sidekick of Parsi meals and include Gharab nu Ahcar (roe cooked in spices), Gajar Mewa nu Achar (carrot, dried fruit, and whole mangoes stewed and cooked in spices), and Buffena (whole ripe mangoes stewed and cooked in spices).
It would be unfair not to give a special shout-out to the most loved dish cooked by Parsis - their famous and legendary “Dhansak''. This delicious and popular Parsi dish can be made with chicken or lamb. You can omit the meat altogether and go vegetarian and trust, it will taste just as good. Dhansak is traditionally served with brown rice, topped with crispy fried onions and Kachumber salad. It is a perfect example of a beautiful combination of Persian and local Gujarati cooking styles.
We hope you have not drooled over your screens while reading this blog. Enjoy all this and more at Bawa Gone Goan. To make your experience unforgettable, we make it twice the fun by adding another equally delicious Goan cuisine. Sit tight as the blog is in the making and will be published soon.