Hit the Parsi Trail

1Although most Mumbaikars are aware of Parsi cafes like Kayani and Sassaniyan, not a lot is known about the cuisine itself. Many mistake Irani food for Parsi dishes, while others limit their experiments into the cuisine to dishes like dhansak and bun maska. However, the community has a diverse variety of dishes, whether you are looking for a full-course meal or a snack to go with a piping hot cup of milky tea. This world of Parsi snacks is what Vinod Sharma and Rahul Patil, are set to explore on their Parsi Snack Trail. The duo founded the Wandering Foodie, a tour group that seeks to get into the nitty gritties of local cultures through cuisines in and around Mumbai. This particular walk will take place in Grant Road and will be guided by the Parsi food blogger, Perzen Patel.

“I grew up in the area and the walk takes you through a lot of places where I have childhood memories,” says Perzen, who is better known by her food blog persona of Bawi Bride. “There is a watermelon juice vendor that my father, grandfather and I would visit when I was a child. Then there is the Parsi Amelioration Committee (PAC), which is a shop where elderly members of the Parsi community make some delicious snacks. My whole family has been going there for their special Parsi style chicken patties for years now,” she remembers.

Another interesting stop along the tour is a traditional spice depot where one can find a number of special readymade Parsi masalas. “A specialty here, is the Parsi vinegar, which is quite different from the normal vinegar and comes all the way from Navsari in Gujarat,” says Vinod. “Parsi dishes have a lot of British influences, so you will find dishes like pies and cutlets on their menus; but they use a number of spices that give them a unique flavour. This British influence is also where the cuisine differs from the Irani cuisine, which is solely indigenous,” he adds.

It is to educate people in the cuisine that Perzen started her blog and also began collaborating with Wandering Foodie in April this year for food walks in Grant Road. “People’s perception of the Parsi cuisine is much narrower than what the cuisine really is. They only know about four or five of the signature dishes,” says Perzen. “For instance, we have a dish were you cook bhindi (ladies finger) with eggs. You wouldn’t find this dish in most restaurants but it’s a very common item in Parsi households. The walk will hopefully make people more aware of these nuances,” she adds. Vinod also adds that while the walks concentrate on the food, tidbits on the culture will also be shared with participants. “We will discuss the history of the area and their quirks as a community as well. For instance, the walk starts at a Parsi Agyari (fire temple) and Perzen will talk about how the strange Parsi last names came into being,” he says.

The Parsi Snack Trail will be held on August 27, from 11 am onwards. Meeting point: Opposite Bhatia Hospital, Chikalwadi, Tukaram Javaji Marg, Grant Road (W), Tardeo

Published on AsianAge