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Parsis: The Zoroastrians of India Pakistan and The World

Kermin Kakalia: Recipes to the rescue

A Parsi snack kiosk in Bandra is as much about a community’s culinary treats as the resilience of a woman fighting a turn of fate

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An assortment of cutlets, kebabs and snacks. Pics/Anurag Ahire

It was a hopeful Christmas for Malad resident Kermin Sarosh Kakalia, 34. Having lost her husband to cancer in November, she was forced to think of ways to start earning money and provide for her kids — Eric, 11, and Riya, 7. And it was on Christmas Day that she decided to turn her passion for cooking into an avenue for business. She put up a kiosk across her mother’s house in Bandra West, selling traditi­onal Parsi snacks and taking up orders for main course dishes.

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Her husband, Sarosh, a Merchant Navy officer, was diagnosed with fourth-stage cancer in October 2018. After a year-long battle, he succumbed to it at the age of 42. “All our savings were spent on treatment. I can’t take up a full-time job but I had to start earning,” Kakalia tells us, when we meet her. “We put up the stall everyday during the holidays, but now are there only on the weekends,” she adds.

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Mutton dhansak

Kakalia and her mother, Goolestan, prepare the goodies at her Bandra home every day. For the lack of manpower, they don’t deliver yet but you can pick up your order. These are family recipes from Kakalia’s grandmother. “She used to treat us to this fare, and I picked up the recipes for dhansak, salli murghi, khajoor ghari and dalpori. The savouries — lacy cutlets, in which the chicken is dipped in egg and deep-fried, and farcha are dishes I often make at home,” she says. “I was quite young when I started helping out in the kitchen. I liked cooking and wanted to open a restaurant,” she tells us.

We try the mutton cutlet (’50) and its chicken counterpart (’45) — the former is low on salt, but the chicken one is juicy and non-greasy, making it an ideal snack-on-the-go. The cheese and chicken roll (’45) is best consumed hot, when the gooey cheese balances out the spice of the mince coating. The chicken kebab (’35) has the spice balanced out by potato bits. The size of the chicken farcha (’60) is generous, and could make for a meal by itself, paired with one of the sandwiches; the creamy egg mayo (’50) is our pick. For the mains we try the mutton dhansak (‘300), salli murgi (‘350) and prawn patio (‘300). The dhansak is the clear winner. The meat melts off the bone and the light curry hits the right spots. The prawn patio is tomato-heavy, and tastes sweet with a punch of spice that lingers. The salli murghi is tangy and has a crunch, just the way we like it. We end the meal with bhakra (‘120 for 12), but it’s a tad too tough and chunky for us.

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Salli murgi

On Fridays to Sundays, 6 pm to 8 pm

At Outside Studio Sinera, Chimbai Road, Bandra West.

Call 9892435228, 9820831118

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Kermin (centre) with her mother, Goolestan, and daughter, Riya