A rustic Navroze

Updated: Aug 11, 2019, 08:35 IST | Nasrin Modak Siddiqi

The Parsi New Year menu at Gallops celebrates rural cuisine, and our tastebuds are happy about it

A rustic Navroze
Cawas ni kolmi na kebab; aflatoon akuri; suran na kebab and bheja kebab. Pics/Ashish Raje

She neatly slices the boi (fish) with a knife and fork before serving it on our plate. There is kindness mixed with nostalgia in the voice of Jasmine Singh, partner at Gallops and daughter of late Paeterasp Patel, income tax consultant and financial advisor, when she explains how the white mullet fish is specially sourced from the coastal town of Udvada where it is best bred. Unlike most fish, this one has a distinct sweetness to it. The masala smeared on it acts only as a sidekick.

Singh and her business partner's son, chef Yajush Malik, have spent the last many days curating a compelling menu with dishes from Singh's mother Dolly Patel's kitchen in Khareghat Colony. Growing up there, her Sundays were all about eating homemade curry chawal and sipping Dukes' Raspberry soda. Her mother's bheja nu kebab makes an entry on the menu too. Here, Patel has lathered the bheja (goat brains) with the parsi green chutney, rolled it into balls and fried it.

Dudh na puff
Dudh na puff

"Our cuisine is distinct due to the balance of spicy and sour flavours and we love our eedu (egg)," says Singh proudly. The Aflatoon Akuri that comes next is a surprise package. Akuri (fluffy scrambled egg in fresh spices) and homebaked Khari (plain salted puffs) is a match made in heaven. "We are known for our khari-chai and you'll find members of the racecourse come often to devour the freshly baked ones. We thought akuri and khari was a combo that fit well," says Malik.

Meanwhile we notice, the menu— a collection of rural along with well-known known Parsi fare—is printed on a hand fan, commonly used by the Parsi community. "The fire temple has no electricity and is always lit by glass diyas and so when it gets hot, we use the hand fan," explains Singh.

Jasmine Singh, owner, Gallops
Jasmine Singh, owner, Gallops

Although the quintessential Parsi cuisine doesn't have an array of vegetarian dishes, the hosts have included vegetarian versions of the relished meatier equivalents. For instance, the suran na kebab (yam kebab), a more flavourful take on the legendary kolmi na kebab (prawns kebab) is probably the best version of yam there is. The flavours explode in your mouth. Also the Patra na Paneer, a take on the famous Patra ni Macchi has cottage cheese marinated overnight in a sweet-spicy and tangy chutney and steamed in a banana leaf.

It should give vegetarians an insight on how the aroma and flavour of the chutney seep into the paneer—but then we'll still be partial to the fish version. While the lagan nu custard is always a hit, we got to try the doodh na puff and it was dreamy. Back in the day when there were no refrigerators, this dish was made exclusively in winters when the climate is cooler. Singh remembers how the ladies would usually make this in December by leaving sweetened milk under the moonlight and frothing it early the next morning.

"We've tried to recreate that in a modern setting. The milk has to be chilled during whipping in order to get a thick froth that can stand for some time. This foam is then transferred to a glass and garnished with pistachio dust. It must be consumed almost immediately to experience the immediate-melt-in-mouth texture," says Malik. Another special to look forward to is the handchurned mango ice cream from Udvada. That enough is a good reason to visit. In the scenic backdrop of the iconic racecourse, this could be one great Parsi meal to kickstart the New Year.

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