It’s a special day for Zoroastrians in the city as they celebrate their New Year. For the rest of us Mumbaikars, it means delicious festive fare, easily available at Parsi restaurants in town. But we’re not talking about the usual suspects. While there are many Iranian restaurants, delivery joints and caterers to choose from, only a few get the nod from the Parsi community.
So we’ve got our bawi friend, Diana Nasirabadwala, to recommend the best spots (other than her home) for a real Parsi feast.
“Navroze food is special for many reasons,” Diana explains, “the recipes are great but also, they’re made on wood and charcoal fire to give them a signature flavour. The only other time this cooking method is used is for lagan nu bhonu (wedding food). On a regular day, you won’t get this flavour at any Parsi restaurant.”
We also learn that dhansak, the popular Parsi mutton-lentil curry, is never prepared during a festival. “That is because we serve dhansak four days after somebody’s death. It is not associated with our festivals.”
Navroze food usually includes mutton pulav with dal, prawns or fish patio or any other fish preparation like pattra ni macchi, sweet sev or ravo (kheer), and lagan nu custard.
Here’s where you can savour these dishes and more:
Ideal Corner, Fort
“If you want authentic bawa food, this is your best bet,” Diana assures. What was once a motorcycle showroom is now a daily lunch spot in the business district of the city. Ideal Corner has a set menu that changes every day, with crowd pleasers like mutton salli boti, chicken farcha, bheja fry, lagan nu custard, patra ni macchi and pulav-dal, many of which will feature on its New Year menu too. Ideal Corner is frequented by hungry office-goers and regular Parsi clientele, a big number of covers for a small restaurant. If you want to get a table, get there by noon. All the good stuff is gone by late afternoon.
Jimmy Boy, Fort
Their dessert counter is not the only thing we love about Jimmy Boy. The Iranian restaurant has an extensive menu with top sellers like jardaloo salli chicken (chicken curry with apricots) and berry pulav. The New Year menu this year includes patra ni macchi or saas ni macchi, dhundal prawns patio, salli marghi or salli gosht and chicken or mutton pulav with lots of rotlis, achar and custard.
PAC, Nana Chowk
PAC (Parsi Amelioration Committee) is one of those places only Parsis know of — a hidden gem for amazing, reasonably priced food. This takeaway joint is more than 70 years old, known for hiring senior members of the Parsi community. If you visit around 12 noon, you might get your hands on their chicken patties, lamb cutlets, and lamb and chicken samosas, but by 3 pm you’ll see mostly empty trays. They also sell Parsi mains that change everyday, and traditional pickles and masalas.
Mocambo Cafe, Fort
For Navroze, Mocambo will serve a full bhonu (set meal) for both, lunch and dinner. The menu will cover traditional dishes like sev dahi, chicken or mutton berry pulav with masala dal, mutton salli boti or salli chicken, chicken farcha and custard. Book your table in advance.
Cafe Military, Fountain
Yet another Parsi favourite, Cafe Military stands for old world charm with food and furniture that is characteristic of Irani cafes in Mumbai. Their New Year menu usually features berry pulav, a fish preparation, along with some veg dishes like athelu fried potatoes and of course, the famous lagan nu custard. On other days, you can dig in to their classic cutlets, salli boti and kheema pav with a chilled beer or raspberry soda.
Diana also recommends Parsi caterers like Kaizad Patel, who puts up a mean feast for Navroze. Although the bhonu must be ordered way in advance, you could try their food for events or house parties.
With so many Parsi dining options around, there’s only one thing left to say — jamva chalo ji!
Image Credit: AwesomeSauceIndia