Parsee food is like Aranyadeb- yes, I am talking about the Indrajal comics character here. Everybody has heard about it and praised it. But few have actually tasted it. And even fewer know where to get it in the city of joy. So, this blogpost was long due (god knows why) and it’s about the Parsee Dharamshala, the epitome of authentic Parsee food in Kolkata.
As per the history and Quissa-E-Sajan goes (and as usual, I’m extremely bad with both), the parsi community came down to India during around 8th century and settled on the western coast. The cuisine is, for some reason unknown, very closely guarded and kept a secret only to the community.
Parsee Dharamshala lies at the T-junction near the Bow Barracks. Now, it’s a strange cosmopolitan area, with a touch of history. Bow barracks used to be a mess built for the army during second world war- long red-colored typical styled barracks. But when the Americans left, it was handed over to Anglo-Indians, who took them on rent. There is a Buddhist temple just beside the lane and of course the Parsee Dharamshala.
Manackjee Rustomjee Dharamsala was found ion 1909 and the new building came up in 1936. The idea was to provide Parsee travelers a comfortable and affordable stay, as well as Parsee food at a pocket-friendly price. Boarders are allowed to stay continuously for three months and somebody wanting to stay longer, can apply and get it renewed every fortnight. Mr. Dara Hansotia is the appointed manager since 2014. Well, honestly I got this information from a print-out that was given to me (to shoot), probably to avoid my never-ending questions. You can also check it here.
About Parsee food now …
Enough of history and I am sure, all of you are looking for food now. As I could find out from my Mumbai stay experience, the food is prepared using the “Khatto-Meetho” philosophy– which means a little sweet and little sour in taste. And in reality, the dishes are neither too spicy, nor too sweet (barring off course, the desserts). Fish and meat are heavily used along with the staple dose of rice and Pao. Mrs. Meher Hansotia considered a legend as far as Parsee food is considered in Kolkata, gets the food prepared and outsiders can very well go and enjoy that. Of course, you need to pre-order the food. A meal for two would sot around 500/- here. But let me warn you, the portion size is extremely heavy and you should order accordingly.
Parsee food from Parsee Dharamsala can be pre-ordered to Mrs. Meher Hansotia at (033) 22116311 / 9831403863.
The first item was chicken farcha. Its basically a Parsi version of KFC styled batter-fried chicken. It’s more on the softer side than the crunchier version. Wholesome, very very less spicy and was really a good start. Kachumber is a sharp, small diced Parsi salad with cucumber, onion, tomato and green chilly and was promptly served along with. The next item was Egg akuri with tawa roti. This egg akuri is the Parsi version of a scrambled egg. Only its more full-bodied with onion, tomato, coriander leaves, and some Indian spices. We had it with tawa roti, but I personally felt it would go better with some pav/buns. This item can be tried during the lunchtime and will be a good choice.
Next, we got the main course of the day- Mutton dhansak. This is a unique meat dish from the Parsi kitchen. This is dal or rather diced meat with 4 varieties of dal (arhar dal, chana dal, red masoor dal, and brown masoor dal). It’s typically flavored with dhansak masala, comprising of about 15 masalas (kept secret) with ginger/ garlic/ coriander/ mint leaves and green chilly. This is a heavy thick gravy-dish. It’s very mild tasted yet keeps its distinct flavor intact.
The second main course that we got was Sali Murg. It’s normally a chicken dry curry cooked with apricot and covered with Sali (deep-fried potato straws). Along with it, we got brown rice. It was rice tossed with caramel water, beresta (sliced, deep brown fried onion), and garam masala (particularly cinnamon) and thus got its typical color. This brown rice is the standard accompaniment with the normal Parsi dishes, as we were told.
God knows why I forgot clicking the Mutton Dhansak on that day. It was good and relying on the khatto-meetho philosophy, tasting slightly sweet-sour … definitely good and unlike anything you probably have tasted
The sweet ending of a Parsee meal
I am not really a sweet-lover, but from my experience, I’ll never leave a Lagan Nu Custard alone. It’s a typical Parsee egg-based dry-fruit-topped pudding and is heavenly. Please forgive my bad low-light photography here, but it’s extremely difficult to stop at one piece.
Well, honestly Parsee meal is an experience and break from the regular meals that we experience regularly. The basic taste is light and subtle and the entire spread relies heavily on the use of egg. And just to add, you can order for bulk Parsee food delivery from this place.
So, have you tasted Parsee food? Do let me know in the comments section. And till then …..
Bon Appetit !!!
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