London-based Chowhounds came together for a Chowdown this evening. Howler managed to convince the kitchens of the Bombay Brasserie to produce a special, off-menu all-Parsi meal. The Parsi-Zoroastrian community numbers only 100,000 worldwide, but its vast influence belies its size. Parsi cuisine is rare, but treasured by Indian food connoisseurs for its subtlety and unique combination of Persian/Iranian and Indian styles of cooking.
Our dinner this evening:
- Patra ni Machchi – fillets of halibut (in place of Arabian Sea pomfret usually used in Mumbai restaurants for this dish) covered with a greenish-paste of ground mint, coriander leaves, grated coconut, chilies, garlic, sugar, onion, cumin seeds. The fish was wrapped in banana leaves and baked. The carefully-prepared version here, with very pronounced flavors from the fresh ingredients used, was better than the more rustic preparations I’d tried in Mumbai & Bangalore’s Parsi eateries previously.
- Akuri toast – Parsi-style scrambled eggs, seasoned with garlic, ginger, coriander, cumin, tomatoes & turmeric, served atop tiny canapé toasts. My complaint: much too small portions, rendering the classic eggs-on-toast combination a bit too dry to the taste. I need more ‘body’ to my scrambled eggs, i.e. larger portions.
- Parsi lamb cutlets – the most delicate lamb cutlets I’d ever encountered – the meat was similar in texture to veal schnitzel, and was covered thinly with spiced, mashed potatoes & a coating of beaten eggs & crumbs before being pan-fried until a golden-crisp crust was obtained. A thick spiced Parsi-style tomato gravy was served as an accompaniment to the lamb cutlets. To-die for.
- The classic Parsi dish, Goat Dhansak –subtly spiced and very tasty – one of the best Indian dishes one would ever had.
- Lagun nu stew – a Parsi dish of spiced gourd, perfect accompaniment to the Goat Dhansak.
- Tilapia Fish Patio, a tomato-ey, almost sweet-sour preparation with a killer gravy.
- Mori Dal is a deceptively simple yellow dhal preparation with an addictive taste – the liquidy gravy went well with the Dhansak rice
- Dhansak rice – the classic Parsi basmati scented brown rice dish, traditionally prepared in Parsi homes to accompany the dhansak goat stews and kachumber salad.
- Kachumber salad – another must-have component of any Parsi spread: a refreshing salad of sliced cucumber, onions & tomatoes, with lime & vinegar dressing. It serves to undercut the richness of the rich dhansak and patio dishes. I chose to juxtapose its crisp texture and sharp flavors against the milky-richness of the mori dhal gravy.
- Naan – the restaurant seemed to have pull all stops here to produce some of the crispiest, tastiest naans & parathas to complete the spread.
- Lagun nu Custard, a milky-rich Parsi classic dessert studded with finely chopped almonds. This is usually served in Parsi weddings or special occasions, and a rare treat indeed for us here this evening.
- Parsi Sev – another sweet which the Parsi serve on auspicious & celebratory occasions. The version here was served in pastry cups and tweaked slightly so as to make itnot too sweet. Very nice.
Overall, the quality of the dishes we had showed that the Indian chefs here in London, if required, can indeed rise to the occasion & churn out a marvelous 100% authentic Parsi meal. It was also a pleasure to catch up with fellow Chowhounds zuriga1, deansa, JFores, Limster and his friends, and a special thanks once again to Howler for making this possible. This is a rare treat indeed, and I'm going to ask fellow Chowhounds from the China/Southeast Asia board to attempt something just as ambitious when we hold our annual HK Chowmeet next March :-)
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