I’ve grown up lusting over Dhansak. The Jehangir Kothari Memorial Hall and the Fire temple was very close to where I lived and the sprightly Parsees always had some fair or event where one on them would be doling out Dhansak! I also had a Parsi friend in school whose lunchbox came crammed with delicious treats. So it’s pretty fair to say I know and love Bawa cuisine. The ITC is playing host to Chef Parvez Patel’s (of Ideal restaurant fame from Mumbai), to showcase the best of Bawa cuisine.
Parsi food is primarily Persian in origin but is heavily influenced by Gujarati cuisine as well. A Parsi wedding is judged by how good the meal spread was and it’s not uncommon to find conversations just revolving around food. There is another unique thing about most Parsees I know – their inherent dislike of vegetables and the need to dress it up with some meat or egg at least! So vegetarians, it’s understandable if you feel sidelined here – but ITC has definitely tried to include the tamer veggie versions of the Parsee classics for you.
The Parsi delicacies are part of their regular dinner buffet and on till the 21stof September for dinner only. For starters you can take your pick from the Prawn Kebabs or the Tarkari Nu Kebabs (mixed vegetable kebabs). They also have the famous Bharuchi Akuri or scrambled egg with ghee, whole cream, broken cashews, raisins and mashed potato – go figure! This is traditionally eaten with bread and is a close cousin of our Egg Burji. The Paneer Akuri tries to give the vegetarian the mouth feel of the egg akuri and actually succeeds pretty well.
The Patra ni Macchi has always been on my hit list and this rendition was no exception. The ‘Macchi’ for me always needs to be Pomfret – otherwise it’s just chutney fish! So I was happy to find that the ITC had beautiful pomfret slices, marinated in a mint and coriander chutney and wrapped in a copious amount of banana leaves and steamed to perfection. Be careful while eating this though, as the fish is not deboned.
The Salli Ma Murgh (chicken in a tangy spice gravy served with deep fried potato straws) is a popular dish found in all Parsi restaurants. It’s also a standard entrant at a Parsi wedding feast. The fun part about this chicken dish is always the potato straws for me – apart from adding some crunch they also ensure a humble chicken curry looks quite dashing. Eat it with some steamed rice for maximum effect. The veggie counterpart to this course is the Kharo Papeto (potato curry seasoned with cumin and green chilli paste) and Athelu Paneer (paneer cooked in cumin gravy). Yes it was nice, but I couldn’t have been bothered with trying more than a spoon of it. I was preparing myself for a plate overload with Dhansak.
What we generally call as Dhansak is actually just the Dhansak Dal and the addition of some other elements (rice, dumplings and kachumber) makes it the complete meal. I was happy to see the elements were laid out just the way I was used to eating it, at friend’s places. All the elements are kept separate and you are given free rein to assemble your own plate. I generally start with the brown rice (which gets its gorgeous color because of caramelized onions), then pile on some Mutton Dhansak Dal, then layer with the mutton dumplings and finally toss some kachumber (onion, tomato salad) on top. P.S. I couldn’t wrap my head around the kachumber with carrots! I also wasn’t a fan of the diced veggies, much prefer sliced onions. Just to generate some arguments from the Bawas, I also add some Salli to the mix. This essentially creates a super platter that (if you don’t care about other people’s stares) – you should be able to enjoy over the course of the next half hour. Burp!
Finish of course with the Lagan Nu Custard – a pimped up version of a regular custard that’s baked and finished with dry fruits. Served last at a Parsi wedding, it’s a silky, sweet, scrumptious way to end a meal.
A Photolog of the experience for your viewing pleasure.
1, Residency Road,
Bangalore – 560025.
Ph: +91 80 2211 9898
Parking: Valet available
Cost: Rs.1600/-++ for the dinner buffet.
The Festival is on till the 21st of Sep 2014.