About Parsi Cuisine

Parsi cuisine is one that refers to the cuisine of the Parsis, belonging to India and Pakistan. As per history, Parsis came to India from present-day Iran on the question of religious freedom. They were given permission to settle in India by a Hindu prince on the three conditions;

  • They had to follow local marriage customs.
  • They were required to speak the language of the locals.
  • They were not allowed to carry any weapons.

Once they arrived in India, they settled down in the city of Mumbai and a few surrounding villages and towns. They also established their habitat in Pune, Hyderabad, Bangalore and Karachi.

Nouroz is the name of the Persian New Year and a Parsi festival that officially marks the beginning of spring.  To celebrate the astronomical vernal equinox on the 21st of March, millions of Persians around the world pay their respect to the natural cycles and sources of life and indulge in a feast adorned with colourful and aromatic dishes.

Also Read: All You Need to Know About the Parsi Worship Places in India

6 Parsi Dishes for a New Year

Iranian cuisine or Parsi cuisine is heavily influenced by the Middle-East especially Kurdish, Turkish and Azerbaijani cuisines due to the location. Green herbs along with fruits such as quince, prunes, raisins, pomegranates and apricots frequently make a presence.

A typical Parsi meal includes meat such as chicken, lamb or fish along with rice. The flavour of a dish is also enhanced very delicately by adding aromatic spices such as cinnamon and saffron.

During the Nouroz festival, if you plan to visit any Parsi household, the likely Parsi dishes that uphold their culture will be as follows:

1.      Kuku Sabzi

If you like the Italian slowly cooked omelette frittata, you are surely going to love a Parsi meal comprising Kuku Sabzi. It is healthy, filling and each slice of Kuku Sabzi is packed in greens such as fenugreek leaves and aromatic herbs.

The traditional Parsi recipe for this Baked herb omelette, which is symbolic of fertility is as follows:

  • You will need an oven and an 8 or 9-inch square pan.
  • Cut the pan with olive oil to prevent the Kuku Sabzi from sticking.
  • In a food processor combine cilantro, dill, parsley, scallion, olive oil and set aside.
  • In a bowl, whisk salt, baking powder, cardamom, cumin, cinnamon, pepper and eggs.
  • Fold the blended mixture into the egg mixture along with chopped walnuts and cranberries.
  • Bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes and serve hot with yoghurt.

Also Read: Dishes to Relish on Parsi New Year in August

Kuku Sabzi Persian Fish Stuffed with Tamarind

2.      Persian Fish Stuffed with Tamarind

Fish is very important for Parsis and plays a very important part in the Parsi New Year. The Fish stuffed with Tamarind is a Parsi dish that comprises a whole salmon baked to perfection with herbs and stuffed with tangy and sweet tamarind.

To make this Parsi dish, you will be required to do the following:

  • You will have to preheat the oven to 375 degrees and keep two baking sheets at the ready.
  • Let soak barberries in warm water for 30 minutes.
  • In a skillet, add olive oil and fry onions until caramelised.
  • Add almonds, tamarind, barberries and garlic and cook for about 10-15 minutes
  • Remove and add in parsley, tarragon and cilantro
  • Season your fish with salt and pepper, and stuff the fish with the stuffing just prepared on the skillet.
  • Bake for 15 minutes and then change the setting to broil and cook for additional 5 minutes until the skin of the fish is golden and crispy.

3.      Ghormeh Sabzi

This is a one-pot Parsi meal made with greens, beans and herbs.

To make the dish you need to follow the below-mentioned steps:

  • Heat oil over medium-high heat
  • Add onions and cook for 10-15 minutes
  • Add turmeric and chuck roast cubes and turmeric for about 10 minutes
  • Now add spinach, parsley, cilantro, green onions, chives and fenugreek leaves and cook for 10 minutes.
  • Pour water and make a slurry consistency. Add in salt, pepper and lemon juice.
  • Pierce dried limes with the help of a fork and add to the stew
  • Continue stirring the chuck until the meat is tender and then add in red kidney beans.
  • Serve hot with lavash bread

Ghormeh Sabzi Zereshk Polo

4.      Zereshk Polo

Rice is an indispensable part of both Indian culture and Parsi meals. To make this tasty dish you will need to:

  • Add chicken, onions, salt, pepper, ground turmeric and water
  • Reduce heat to medium-low and cook for 30 minutes
  • After 30 minutes, change the sides of the chicken pieces and cook for another 30 minutes.
  • Discard the onions and sprinkle grounded saffron powder on top of the chicken pieces.
  • Stir in a mixture of fried onions, and tomato paste to the chicken broth and a tablespoon of barberries.
  • Squeeze in lemon juice
  • Bring the chicken sauce to a boil and then reduce it for 15-20 minutes.
  • Cook the chicken till it can be pulled apart
  • Now make the fried onion and Zereshk (saffron) mixture for the rice.
  • To do this, fry the onion in butter and add in barberries with a pinch of saffron.
  • On a large serving plate, add steamed rice, the onion/barberry mix and continue to layer.
  • Now, add the chicken with the sauce and sprinkle with sliced almonds.

Also Read: Festivals and Events in India in August 2021

5. Prawn Patio

A quintessential parsi meal made with freshly cooked prawns, the prawn patio is a thing of beauty that is best enjoyed with roti or rice.

To make this simple yet drool-worthy dish, here is what you need to do:

  • Mix cumin seed powder, red chilli powder and ground garlic in sugarcane vinegar to create a paste-like consistency.
  • Chop onions and fry them in oil till it attains a golden hue.
  • Add a spoon of the masala paste freshly created, dhania jeera powder, turmeric and chilli powder.
  • Now add prawns and fry for a few minutes.
  • Add the very end to balance the taste of the prawn patio, add some sugar, salt or vinegar. The final product should taste sour, sweet and spicy, all at the same time.

Prawn Patio Mawa Cake

6. Mawa Cake

The mawa cake is another typical Parsi dish that you will find being baked across Parsi households during any Parsi festival. The cake is simple to make and simply delightful to taste.

To savour a bite of this cake at home, here is what you will need to do:

  • Take butter and powdered sugar and beat till it becomes fluffy and smooth.
  • In a separate bowl, take one and a half cup of flour, baking soda and baking powder
  • Mix this powder mixture into the butter and sugar mix.
  • Now add a cup of yoghurt and a cup of milk and mix this entire cake batter well employing the fold and cut method.
  • Now add crumbled mawa into the batter.
  • Bake it for 60 minutes at 180 degrees Celsius.
  • You can garnish the cake with chopped dry fruits or enjoy it as it is.

Traditional Parsi recipes are delightful, nutritious and absolutely delicious and must not be missed out, especially on the occasion of Nouroz.

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