Over the centuries since the first Zoroastrians arrived in India, the Parsis have integrated themselves into Indian society while simultaneously maintaining or developing their own ethnic customs and traditions. Parsi Cuisine has its own distinctive tastes and flavors and is not widespread except in places like Mumbai and parts of Western India. In Kolkata there is not much of it available except at the Parsi Dharamshala or at a Parsi Friends home. However this year suddenly its popularity has grown and I have come across three pop-ups / festivals in recent months and it feels great being a Parsi and having people sample and appreciate the food I love and have grown up eating.
Naturally I was delighted when Zomato invited me as a guest of Jamva Chalo Ji , The Parsi Pop Up Restaurant being held at The Stadel just before Navroz , the Parsi New Year. I was even more excited because it was curated by a Parsi lady , the gracious Mrs.Nilufer Babaycon. The evening was hosted by the elegant Mrs.Rita Bhimani who went out of her way to spend time with all the guests and took great care to see that everyone was well looked after. The dinner was also attended by a number of members of the Parsi Community and many others. Jamva Chalo Ji literally translates to “Come lets go and eat” so it was a perfect name for the Pop-up.
The menu was packed with lots of favorites Mutton cooked with Apricots and Figs , Chicken with Potato Juliennes , Egg and Green Chutney Chops , Rotlis (Flatbread) , Chicken Dhansak , Mutton Kebab’s , Patra ni Macchi ( Fish Steamed in Banana Leaves) accompanied by the Kachumbar Salad and a delicious Mango Chutney. The very traditional Ravo was the sweet note the meal was to end on.
We were served a welcome beverage of iced-tea which was very refreshing and then settled down to chat while we waited for the buffet to start service which it did shortly. Our meal began with Egg Chutney Chop which we all enjoyed ( Hey I am Parsi and I love my eggs ) and the Pea and Potato Chop ( ditto for potatoes ) . We also had some of the delicious Mutton with Figs and Apricot called Jardalu ma Ghosht with the Rotlis. The Chops were very nice and I loved the Mutton which was well cooked and was full of flavor. What won my heart are the rotlis which was a lovely touch and authenticated our culinary experience further.
Next up I had some Sali Marghi or Chicken with Potato Juliennes , I would have liked more Sali but otherwise enjoyed the dish with my Rotli and another Egg Chop. By now I was rather full but no Parsi is going to miss out on their Dhansak so I headed back to the buffet and served myself some Brown Rice and Chicken Dhansak with the Mutton Kebab’s and Kachumbar Salad. I absolutely loved the Mutton Kebabs these are similar to Minced Mutton Kofta’s which are deep fried. They are the favored accompaniment to Dhansak and I really enjoyed it. We ended our meal with some very nice Ravo which was well made and not too sweet.
Service was warm and The Stadel Management took a lot of care of their guests. A special thanks to Milee Banerjee for her hospitality and a big shout out to Team Zomato for inviting me, you made this Parsi a very happy bawi by stuffing me up with some lovely food. Here’s hoping to see more such pop-ups in our City of Joy so the cry of Jamva Chalo Ji can be heard more often.
Picture Credits : Suneha Saha
Disclaimer : The author was invited by Zomato and The Stadel