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Parsi corner shops are perfect for a quick fix of dhansak, kebabs & lagan nu custard

MUMBAI: If you have a sudden craving for Parsi cuisine, don’t wait for your pal Khushru to wed Perin at Colaba agiary. Just order some dhansak and kebabs to your Fort office or step off Nana Chowk’s circuitous skywalk and dig in to some lagan nu custard at Belgaum Ghee Depot. The city is dotted with Parsi food stands that sell and deliver a host of community snacks and packed meals. TOI rounds up these hole-in-the-wall eateries.

Pervez Hall | DADAR PARSI COLONY
Established by the Tarapore family in 1947 and named after Pervez, a young relative who died of typhoid, this charitable institute hosted typing and drama classes before morphing into a community eatery, employing poor Parsis, in the 1960s. Today, it is famous for its chicken na farcha with pulpy fries, patrel (Parsi alu vadi) and vasanu, a winter specialty that resembles a spicy, gritty fudge.
A portrait of Pervez as a solemn eight-year-old in a floral frock, hangs near the ceiling. She’s watched generations of colony residents wolf down frilly meat cutlets and badam pak made from pure ghee. On auspicious occasions, the staff cooks all night to meet the demand for their crusty, deep-fried daar ni poris. This item is so popular that one trustee proposed naming the institute’s soon-to-be-launched website “www.daarnipori.com”.

Belgaum Ghee Depot | NANA CHOWK
In 1943, Farrokh Workingboxwalla’s grandfather set up a depot to sell pure ghee from Belgaum. By 1987, it was converted into a utilitarian eatery selling snacks and confectionaries to the neighbourhood’s Parsis. But the name stuck. Today, traditional Parsi fare like titori, a legume dish, and maledo, an almond-cashew wheat pudding, rub shoulders with chicken tikka and puri bhaji. Among Parsis, it’s customary to throw an egg atop any vegetable and at the depot, patrons can choose from egg on potato, tomato or methi.

Roshni Food Point | FORT
Around lunch-time, high court lawyers and judges make a beeline for this hole-in-the-wall eatery off D N Road, famous for its chicken mayo sandwiches and mutton dhansak. It was used to store sandalwood around 235 years ago until in 1947, Viraf Katgara’s father converted it into an electrical store. Its current red-and-white avatar dates back 20 years to when Katgara decided to put family recipes for lagan nu custard and kid gosh, which is mutton in a white gravy, to good use.

Parsi Amelioration Committee | NANA CHOWK
This nearly 75-year-old institution serves all the usual fare, including mutton kebabs, bhakras and sweet Parsi pancakes or chapats. Established to help poor Parsi women, today all the cooks are non-Parsis. Some of its specialty items include ghari khamun, a coconut pie, and kumas, a Parsi cake. Lassie, a stray dog, has adopted the eatery and judging from her girth, she seems to relish their food.

Cafe 792 | DADAR PARSI COLONY
Started by three friends in 2014, this eatery, located in a revamped outhouse, is frequented by youngsters who lounge on the porch snacking on mutton botis and kheema pav. Public demand forced the owners to also serve Parsi lunches like chicken ras chawal and prawn saas (prawns cooked in a tangy sauce) with khichri. Last year, during wedding season, caterer Tanaz Godiwalla came on board and the cafe stocked select items like her celebrated pulav daar and saas ni machhi. Proprietress Jehan Nargolwala says, “No community gives as much importance to food as the Parsis.”

Posted on Times of India

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