On the occasion of Parsi New Year, we chat with new-age Iranian food chef Perzen Patel. The founder of Bawi Bride Kitchen, Patel talks about her favourite items, the craziest dish she has prepared, and the fusion offerings on her menu.
How do you celebrate Navroze?
“Most Parsis celebrate by going to the fire temple, followed by a big family feast. However, I am one-quarter Iranian, so I follow the tradition of hosting a Haft Seen table at home. It has a variety of fruits, sweets, dry fruits and other items symbolising prosperity, good luck and fertility. But since Navroze is a busy day for caterers, I spend most of my day at work before going out for a family dinner.”
What dishes or flavours are you experimenting with these days?
“I always like to experiment with traditional food by giving it a modern take. This means not playing too much with the flavour of the original dish, but rather the format. One classic example is the Parsi Salli Boti Pie which we invented a few years ago, and is now added to our regular menu due to popular demand.”
Where does the Bawi Bride get her fill of Parsi food in Mumbai?
“The best Parsi food is still found in a Parsi household – or from us, of course! While I wouldn’t go out to eat it, I do enjoy going to PAC in Grant Road to pick up their Chicken Puff and Pervez Hall in Dadar for their Dar Ni Pori. If it’s some succulent kheema kebabs or creamy Akoori I’m craving, then dad makes the best version.”
What is the most common challenge that people face when trying to learn Parsi dishes?
“Parsi food is remarkably easy to make because most of our food uses the same cooking technique and the same four or five masalas in varying amounts. The hardest thing to learn is balancing the sweet-sour flavour profile of a dish, as we use jaggery and sugarcane vinegar while cooking.”
Besides creating delectable dishes, how has your Parsi heritage helped you in setting up the Bawi Bride Kitchen?
“Parsis have an inbuilt quality checker, where we believe that only the best ingredients from particular places should be used when cooking. I follow this Parsi instinct of cooking and serve my clients just like I would my family, with a lot of care and love.”
What is the craziest dish you have created?
“We recently invented the Kid Gosht Pulao, which is one of my favourites on the menu, along with the salli boti pie. We cooked the mutton in a classic cashew and khada masala gravy and then layered it into a pulao.”
What has been your most memorable moment in the evolution of the Bawi Bride Kitchen?
“When I did my very first food festival for JW Cafe in JW Marriot, they told me their restaurant was sold out for my festival on Parsi New Year. I had to cook eight dishes with the help of just two people. It was the largest amount of food we had made then and it was an amazing feeling to have wrapped and cooked almost 400 pomfrets by myself!”
What is an interesting Parsi dish your kids love and why?
“My kids love the Parsi staple of Dhandaar, which is a plain toor dal made with a tadka of ghee, jeera and garlic. Most Parsis prefer Dhandaar to Dhansak because it feels like home. My kids love to have this with some fried fish on the side.”
Is there an Indian Chef you admire?
“Not a chef, but an entrepreneur I really admire is Pooja Dhingra. What she has done with the Le15 brand is truly remarkable. I love how she consistently puts herself out there for challenge after challenge to evolve the brand.”