Third generation Parsi chef Kaizad Patel is in town to help Delhiites nurture a taste for Parsi food
“At a Parsi wedding no one remembers who the bride or groom was, but everyone remembers who the caterer was,” smiles Kaizad Patel, a third-generation Parsi chef, who is hosting a Parsi food festival at Made in India, Radisson MBD Noida.
“If there are about 50,000 Parsis in India, then we are talking of 50,000 hardcore food critics,” says the 32-year-old, who upon completing his diploma in culinary arts from the Cordon Bleu in Arizona, US, returned to India in 2005 to be a part of the family business that was started by his grandparents, Khorshedbanoo and Navroji Patel over five decades ago, in Mumbai.
While Delhi still awaits a good Parsi restaurant that serves up an Aleti Paleti (chicken liver and nuggets cooked with tomato and onion gravy and garnished with boiled eggs and potatoes) or Masala Sali Per Eeda (eggs cooked with spicy potato straws) for gourmands, at the festival Patel promises a true-to-culture culinary experience.
While Dhansak and caramel custard are a given, it is the wedding food — with the melt-in-your-mouth Kolmi Na Kebab (fried minced prawn cutlets), the decadent Bheja na Cutless (lamb brain cutlets) and the bright red heap of Sali Jardaloo Murghi (chicken cooked in apricot gravy) which is tangy and sweet and glistens through a shower of thinly sliced deep fried potato (sali) —that gives the food a decided edge.
“At the wedding meal, each dish represents something. Fish is treated as a sign of good health, so we start off with the Patra Ni Machi (steamed pomfret with mint sauce and coconut). Then there’s the lagan nu achar, the wedding pickle made with dried fruits, that is served at the beginning of the meal. All of these are integral to the Parsi culture,” says Patel. He hopes that like Mumbaikars who have a taste for Parsi cooking, thanks to a sizeable population in Mumbai, Delhi will also get its share of Parsi food connoisseurs soon. “Parsi cuisine has been variously influenced. There are spices from Gujarat and Persia. We use sugarcane vinegar and some of our dishes use Worcestershire sauce. It is a big mix of different flavours. Cooking the food is quite labour-intensive, since it is cooked slowly over a medium fire. The Parsi love for food is something that needs to be shared,” says Patel, promising more trips to the city to build on the fledgling interest.
Meal for two : Rs 2500 (excluding taxes)
The festival at Radisson MBD, Noida is on till September 19