When it comes to Parsi food, many are quick to think of Dhansak – the classic lentil and meat medley often billed as the community’s culinary ambassador.
However, the depth and breadth of Parsi food extend far beyond this single dish, with each recipe spun from a narrative as rich and diverse as the Parsi diaspora itself.
Steeped in history, Parsi food is the delightful offspring of ancient Persian and Gujarati culinary practices. The community, whose ancestors fled Persia around the 8th century AD to avoid religious persecution, found sanctuary on India’s west coast, in Gujarat. This intermingling of cultures paved the way for a unique cuisine – one that delicately blends the aromatic richness of Persian food with the robust flavours of Gujarati fare.
Take, for instance, Patra Ni Machhi, an iconic Parsi dish. This involves marinating a fillet of fish in a vibrant blend of coconut, coriander, and green chillies before wrapping it in a banana leaf and steaming it to perfection. A less famous but equally tantalizing treat is Sali Boti, a spicy-tangy mutton preparation sprinkled with crispy potato straws, tracing its origins back to the communal feasts of ancient Persia.
Also remarkable are the lesser-known gems like the Lagan Nu Custard, a beautiful fusion dessert of Persian origin, prepared primarily during weddings – ‘Lagan’ meaning ‘wedding’ in Gujarati. The balance of flavours in this custard, just like in the Parsi community’s history, is a perfect blend of sweetness, enriched with the warmth of nutmeg and the aromatic charm of cardamom.
Every spoonful of Parsi cuisine is a testament to the resilience and adaptability of a community that absorbed local influences while preserving its cultural heritage. So, as we explore this cuisine, we journey through time, traversing the Silk Road from ancient Persia to the coastal towns of India, making exciting and delightful gastronomic discoveries along the way.
Parsi food is a fusion of hot and sweet, pleasant and spicy flavours. Combinations of rice with meat, such as lamb, chicken, or fish, are the basic dishes of a Persian dinner. Along with nuts, vegetables such as onions and fresh herbs such as parsley are used. Spices like saffron and cinnamon are used in small amounts to flavour some particular authentic Parsi recipes.
Check out these amazing Parsi dishes that are a must-try for everyone.
Salli Boti, a Parsi mutton curry, is a festive fusion meal in which Salli refers to potato sticks and Boti to meat chunks. This supper recipe is commonly served at weddings and is made with boneless chicken and a medley of Indian spices. This delectable meal is particularly suitable for festivities such as Nauroze. With hot chapatis, serve this wonderful delicacy.
How to make Salli Boti dish
The preparation of Sali Boti, a mouth-watering Parsi dish, begins by marinating chunks of mutton in a blend of ginger-garlic paste, red chilli powder, turmeric, and salt for at least a couple of hours. In a heavy-bottomed pan, heat some oil, and sauté finely chopped onions until they turn golden brown. Add the marinated mutton to the pan, and cook it until it turns brown.
Then add a puree of tomatoes, followed by spices such as garam masala and jaggery, to infuse sweetness and a characteristic depth of flavour. Next, pour in sufficient water, cover the pan, and let it simmer until the meat becomes tender. While the mutton is simmering, prepare the sali (potato straws) by cutting potatoes into thin matchsticks and deep-frying them until they’re golden and crisp.
Once the meat is tender, and the gravy has thickened to your preference, garnish the dish with the crispy sali just before serving. This tangy, spicy, and sweet mutton preparation served with a crunchy potato topping makes Sali Boti an irresistible Parsi delight.
Parsi chicken Farcha is a popular Parsi beginning or appetizer eaten at a variety of events, including weddings, birthday parties, family meals, and more. Because it is so easy to make, it is frequently referred to as the Indian version of American Southern fried chicken. Serve hot with a green salad or roast vegetables once all of the chicken farchas have been cooked.
How to make Chicken Farcha dish
Parsi Chicken Farcha, a beloved Parsi take on fried chicken, is a dish that embodies both flavour and crunch. Start with marinating chicken pieces in a flavorful mix of ginger-garlic paste, red chilli powder, turmeric, cumin, garam masala, and a squeeze of lemon juice for a tangy note. Allow the chicken to rest in the marinade for at least a few hours, preferably overnight, to soak up the spices. Then, in a separate bowl, whip up a thick batter by combining flour and beaten eggs, seasoned with salt and pepper.
Dip each marinated chicken piece into the batter, ensuring they are completely coated. As a final layer of crunch, roll these pieces in bread crumbs. Heat oil in a deep pan and when it’s sufficiently hot, carefully lower the chicken pieces into the oil. Fry them until they are golden brown and crispy. Drain the Farchas on a paper towel to get rid of excess oil. Serve hot with a side of tangy mint-cilantro chutney, and enjoy the crisp, tender, and spiced deliciousness that is Parsi Chicken Farcha.
Patra Ni Machi
Patra Ni Machi is a famous Parsi meal that involves smearing fish with a considerable amount of green chutney, wrapping it in banana leaf, and steam cooking it. It’s light, soothing, and filling. It’s also beneficial for folks who are trying to lose weight. Patra Ni Machi can be served on its own or with Steamed Rice and Vegetable Dhansak for a complete Parsi dinner.
How to make Patra Ni Machi dish
Patra Ni Machi, a signature Parsi delicacy, translates to “Fish wrapped in leaf”, and true to its name, involves delicately steamed fish wrapped in a banana leaf. Start by preparing the marinade. In a grinder, combine freshly grated coconut, green chillies, coriander leaves, cumin seeds, garlic, and a dash of lemon juice until it forms a smooth paste.
Season the paste with salt and a pinch of sugar. Clean and descale your preferred fish fillet – Pomfret is traditionally used, but any firm white fish will work. Apply the green marinade generously on both sides of the fish and let it rest for an hour to absorb the flavours. Now, place each marinated fillet on a banana leaf, fold the leaf to fully encase the fish, and secure the parcel with a string or toothpick.
Place these parcels in a steamer and steam for about 15-20 minutes until the fish is cooked through. Serve hot and let your guests enjoy the pleasure of unwrapping their flavourful surprise. This vibrant and aromatic dish, Patra Ni Machi, encapsulates the exquisite meld of flavours iconic to Parsi cuisine.
The name Salli Murgh comes from a hot chicken curry that is traditionally served with potato straws as a garnish. Curry is must-have food in the Parsi community, and it must be served on all major occasions. Serve this Parsi Salli Murgh with Iranian Berry Pulao and a traditional Parsi Lagan Nu Custard Recipe to round up the meal.
How to make Salli Murgh dish
Salli Murgh, a delightful chicken dish in Parsi cuisine, marries tender chicken with a vibrant, spiced tomato-based gravy, all topped off with crunchy potato sticks (sali). Begin by heating oil in a pan, and sautéing finely chopped onions until they turn a rich golden brown. Add ginger-garlic paste and sauté until the raw smell dissipates. Next, introduce the chicken pieces to the pan, browning them slightly.
Stir in your dry spices – turmeric, red chilli powder, and garam masala, followed by pureed tomatoes. Let this simmer until the chicken is nearly cooked and the gravy has thickened and developed in flavour. While the chicken cooks, prepare the sali by thinly slicing potatoes into matchsticks and deep frying until golden and crisp. Once the chicken is tender and the gravy is flavorful, adjust the seasoning to your taste.
Just before serving, garnish your Salli Murgh with the prepared sali, offering a satisfying contrast of textures – the softness of the chicken perfectly offset by the crunch of the potato straws. This homely and hearty dish is typically served with roti or rice and is a testament to the unique flavours of Parsi cuisine.
The Parsi community in India makes a spicy scrambled egg dish called Akuri. Akuri is often served with bread and salad, with the eggs remaining loose and somewhat runny and combined with mild seasonings. Akuri is seasoned with onions, tomatoes, chillies, and fresh cream to add creaminess and heat. Make this and serve it with some warm bread for a relaxing Sunday brunch.
How to make Akuri dish
Akuri, a beloved Parsi dish, is essentially a spicy scramble of eggs with onions, tomatoes, and aromatic spices. Start by heating oil or ghee in a pan. Add finely chopped onions and green chillies, sautéing them until the onions turn translucent. Then add minced garlic and grated ginger, cooking them until their raw smell disappears.
Next, toss in chopped tomatoes, and cook until they turn soft and mushy. It’s time for the spices now – a sprinkle of turmeric, red chilli powder, and garam masala. Sauté until the spices blend well with the mixture. Meanwhile, whisk eggs in a bowl, seasoning them with salt. Pour these beaten eggs over the spiced onion-tomato mixture in the pan, and stir gently on low heat until the eggs are softly scrambled.
Be careful not to overcook them, as Akuri is enjoyed slightly runny. Finish with a generous sprinkling of fresh coriander leaves. Serve the Akuri hot with buttered toast or soft pav, and savour this classic Parsi breakfast dish that combines humble ingredients with a burst of flavours.
Saas Ni Machhi
Only two spices are used in the Parsi white curry ‘Saas’: fresh green chile peppers and entire cumin seeds. Saas ni Macchi is a popular home-cooked supper in Parsi cuisine and is usually eaten with Basmati rice Khichri (recipe below), which is Parsi cuisine’s version of the well-known Indian rice-and-lentil Khichdi. The Saas curry, on the other hand, is equally delicious when served with plain steamed Basmati rice or crusty bread.
How to make Saas Ni Machhi dish
Saas Ni Machhi is a delightful Parsi dish that combines fish with a tangy, subtly sweet white sauce. To prepare this dish, start by marinating your fish fillets (typically Pomfret or any firm white fish) in a mixture of ginger-garlic paste, salt, and a squeeze of lemon juice. Allow this to rest for around 30 minutes. Meanwhile, prepare the sauce. In a pan, heat a little oil and sauté finely chopped onions until translucent.
Then, add in flour, stirring continuously until it blends well with the onions. Gradually pour in a mixture of water and white vinegar, continuing to stir to avoid lumps. Allow the sauce to simmer until it thickens. Add a little sugar, adjust to your taste, and season with salt.
Now, place the marinated fish in the sauce, cover the pan, and let it simmer gently until the fish is cooked through. Just before serving, garnish with freshly chopped coriander and a sprinkle of freshly ground black pepper. Saas Ni Machhi, with its unique blend of tangy and sweet flavours, perfectly exemplifies the culinary ingenuity of Parsi cuisine.
Parsi Mutton Cutlets
The Parsi mutton cutlet is a luscious cutlet that will make a great party starter or after-school snack for your kids. A scrumptious cutlet is made from minced mutton marinated in fantastic flavor-packed spices. Serve Parsi Mutton Cutlets with Pickled Onions and Dhaniya Pudina Chutney, Date Tamarind Chutney, or any other chutney of your choosing.
How to make Parsi Mutton Cutlets
Parsi Mutton Cutlets, a classic from the Parsi kitchen, are flavoursome patties made from tender mutton and aromatic spices. Begin by boiling mutton mince with ginger-garlic paste, turmeric, and a bit of salt until the mutton is well cooked. Drain and keep aside, ensuring to save the stock. In a pan, heat oil and sauté chopped onions until golden brown. Add the cooked mutton and a generous amount of garam masala, stirring well.
Next, mix in mashed potatoes and chopped coriander, then season with salt. The mixture should be firm and hold together. If it’s too dry, add a bit of the saved stock. Once cool, shape the mixture into cutlets. Dip these in beaten eggs, then coat with breadcrumbs, ensuring all sides are evenly covered. Heat oil in a pan and shallow fry the cutlets until they turn a beautiful golden brown on both sides.
These Parsi Mutton Cutlets, crisp on the outside, tender and spicy on the inside, are usually served hot with mint chutney or ketchup, making them an irresistible snack or appetizer.
Sali Par Edu
Sali Par Eedu is a Parsi morning dish consisting of eggs on fried potato straws. A popular Parsi dish is now accessible at street vendors and restaurants that specialize in Parsi cuisine. Sali Par Eedu is typically offered for breakfast, but you can also serve it to your kids as an after-school snack with a smoothie of your choosing.
How to make Sali Par Edu
Sali Par Edu, a classic Parsi dish, translates to “eggs over potatoes”. This comforting meal begins with preparing the sali or potato straws. Cut potatoes into thin matchsticks, and deep fry them until they are crisp and golden brown. Set them aside to drain on paper towels. In a flat pan, create a generous layer of these fried potato straws. Now, break eggs directly over the sali, as many as you like, keeping the yolks intact.
Season with salt, pepper, and a little red chilli powder. Cover the pan, and let it cook on low heat until the egg whites are fully set, but the yolks are still runny. The final dish should look like a beautiful mosaic of yellow yolks peeking through a white bed of eggs, nestled on a bed of crispy golden potato straws. A sprinkle of fresh coriander on top before serving adds a fresh note. This simple and delicious dish, Sali Par Edu, is usually enjoyed for breakfast or a light meal, capturing the essence of homely Parsi cooking.
Parsi Sali Keema
Parsi Salli Boti is a typical Parsi mutton dish that is usually served with crispy potato fries. Salli Boti is a spicy, semi-dry mutton curry that is slow-cooked with a variety of spices to achieve a hot flavor. It is typically served with plain steamed rice. For a weekend lunch or dinner, serve Parsi Salli Boti with Whole Wheat Lachha Paratha and Steamed Rice.
Parsi Sali Keema, a savoury minced meat dish topped with crispy potato straws, is a quintessential dish in Parsi cuisine. Start by heating oil in a pan and add finely chopped onions, sautéing them until golden. Add in a ginger-garlic paste, stirring well until the raw aroma subsides. Next, introduce the mince (keema), usually mutton or chicken, and cook until it changes colour. Add your ground spices – turmeric, coriander, cumin, and red chilli powder.
Stir in chopped tomatoes and let the mixture simmer until the tomatoes soften and the spices are well-integrated. Pour a little water, cover the pan, and let it simmer until the mince is fully cooked and the gravy has thickened. Meanwhile, prepare the sali by thinly slicing potatoes into matchsticks and deep frying until golden and crisp.
Once the keema is cooked, season with salt and top the dish with the crispy sali just before serving to maintain the crunch. Garnish with chopped coriander. Parsi Sali Keema, with its tender, spiced mince contrasted by the crunch of potato straws, offers a delightful medley of textures and flavours.
Lagan Nu Custard
The Parsi Lagan Nu Custard is a classic Parsi dessert that is served at Parsi weddings. It’s a thick custard with nutmeg and cardamom flavours that are served as a dessert. After a supper of Amrood Ni Kari Recipe and phulka, serve Parsi Lagan Nu Custard Recipe.
Lagan Nu Custard is a cherished Parsi dessert, traditionally served at weddings and special occasions. Begin by preheating your oven and greasing a baking dish. In a large bowl, beat six eggs until frothy. Stir in a cup of sugar until it dissolves completely.
Gradually add 500 ml of full-fat milk, followed by a cup of thick cream. The key to the distinct flavor of Lagan Nu Custard lies in its unique spice mix: a teaspoon of cardamom powder, and a generous grating of nutmeg. Stir these in, and then add the zest of a lemon for a subtle citrus note.
Pour this mixture into your prepared baking dish. Place this dish in a larger baking tray filled with water to create a water bath, which ensures the custard cooks evenly. Bake until the custard is set and the top turns a beautiful golden brown. Allow it to cool before chilling in the refrigerator. Serve this rich, creamy, and aromatic Lagan Nu Custard chilled, garnished with slices of charoli (a type of nut) or almonds. Each bite of this delectable dessert takes you on a delightful journey through the sweet traditions of Parsi cuisine.
A vibrant tapestry of flavours
Parsi cuisine is a vibrant tapestry of flavours, with an array of mouth-watering dishes. Parsi food offers a unique culinary adventure. The cuisine embodies the spirit of the Parsi community: warm, hearty, and innovative, with a penchant for balancing flavours in the most unexpected ways.
The magic of Parsi cooking lies in its ability to transform simple ingredients into extraordinary dishes. As we’ve unravelled the secrets of a few iconic Parsi recipes, we hope you’re inspired to venture into your kitchen and recreate a piece of this rich culinary heritage.
Let every bite tell a story, let every dish be a celebration!
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