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The syncretic flavours of growing up as a Parsi in Gujarat

Hotelier Jimmy Mistry of Della Resorts spent his childhood in Ahmedabad relishing Parsi dishes at home, making snacks for Diwali and eating out in Goan restaurants

Jimmy Mistry, Founder, Della Group

It’s often believed that iconic Parsi restaurants are limited to Mumbai and Pune in Maharashtra. But, there is a family dining spot, tucked away in the hills of Lonavala that serves extraordinary Parsi fare. Even their chai with bun maska (pillowy soft buns slathered with butter) call for second helpings.

It’s located in Della Resorts and is named Parsi Dhaba. The entire property is owned by hotelier Jimmy Mistry. The entrepreneur who belongs to the Parsi community grew up in Ahmedabad. He speaks to Lounge about childhood food memories that reflect a syncretic upbringing—relishing patra ni machi during Parsi New Year, making snacks for Diwali and eating out in Goan restaurants with his father.

1. Where did you spend your childhood, and what are your early food memories?

I was raised in Ahmedabad. I have this vivid memory of sitting with my parents around the dining table and relishing pomfret fry with a slice of lemon to my heart’s content.

2. What are the dishes or food rituals unique to your family?

For years, preparing Diwali snacks and sweets like chakli, chivda, laddoos and other goodies at home has been customary. A sit-down dinner on Navroze and Parsi New Year is one ritual that has carried forward across generations. We love our dhansak, patra ni machi, sali boti, berry pulao and more.

Also read | A sweet dish that symbolises how Parsis made India their home

3. Did you eat out?

Absolutely. In those days (sixties and seventies), eating out was an event in itself, and I remember going to a few Goan restaurants with my father in Ahmedabad. There was this one place that was run by an old Catholic lady which had the best prawn curry ever. Another fond memory I have is of the food on train journeys. My father and I would often travel between Ahmedabad and Vadodara and thinking about it still warms my heart.

The Natraj softie parlour in Ahmedabad was a childhood favourite. I must have last had their icecreams some 40 years ago. Even now, when I come across an ice cream parlour, I’m reminded of that shop. I still remember the taste of their mango and strawberry icecreams distinctly.

4. Are there any family food rituals that seemed mundane, but now they feel priceless?

Sunday lunch. It was that one meal we would have together, but it was taken for granted until recently. Since everyone’s busy through the week, sitting with the family and enjoying a meal is a blessing. The menu comprises a choice of meat cooked on coal for a nice smoky flavour, layered biryani topped with saffron and foil chicken.

Mistry's family recipe of chicken in foil

Ingredients for chutney:

250 grams coriander leaves
100 grams green chilli
A clove of garlic
2-3 teaspoons cumin
Salt to taste
Half a lime
Half tsp sugar
Make a smooth paste (chutney) with these ingredients and keep aside

Ingredients for the chicken

6 chicken legs, washed and cleaned (250 gms drumsticks
1 hard-boiled egg
1 boiled potato
Garlic ginger paste, as per taste for marination
Turmeric for marination
1 tsp red chilli powder
Salt as per taste
Oil for frying

Method:

The foiled chicken recipe is chicken drumstick which is packed in a foil with a piece of hard boiled egg and few pieces of potato wedges along with mint green chutney.

Marinate the chicken pieces with garlic ginger paste, salt, red chilli powder and turmeric as required

Cook the chicken legs in a frying pan. Once cooked, transfer each leg in a foil and coat it with the green chutney. Now, place the boiled potato and half boiled egg in the foil.

Wrap the around the chicken legs, potato and egg and secure well. Place it in a steamer and cook until the chicken is soft and all the flavours bloom.

Serve it hot and relish with roti or rice.

Inheritance of flavours is a series with chefs, restaurateurs, hospitality experts and professionals about food memories and tastes of home.

Also read | How puri chole and pickle shape food memory

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