Sunday is all about waking up late, cooking an indulgent curry, stuffing myself to the gills with it followed by a blissful afternoon snooze. This Sunday I found myself up and early giving breakfast a miss highly anticipating lunch. Mum and I had been graciously invited by our neighbour for an indulgent Parsi style seafood themed lunch.
Mahrukh Mogrelia ( my new bestie ) is mum’s pal, who I soon learnt, is a wizard in the kitchen. Mahrukh is in my opinion a one woman army that manages to do a billion things in a day and I find I get exhausted just listening to her routine but her enthusiasm and her infectious smile reminds you that she doesn’t find this a task but really enjoys what she does. Mahrukh isn’t just a great cook but so completely dedicated to her craft and insists on only the freshest produce in her kitchen that she’s up an unearthly hours in the morning making her way to the docks to buy her fish fresh at auction ( if you’ve never seen one you’re really missing out on some local action ). She has no faith in these so called fish mongers and poultry shops coming home to deliver and insists on checking the quality herself. Mahrukh goes above the call of duty and her quest for freshness has her grinding her own spices at home. Here I thought I was a genius because I’ve gone from shop to shop to find the best and most aromatic cumin powder and coriander powder and here Marukh whizzed it up in her own kitchen with her very own industrial grinder she bought!
I knew this would be a good meal but I found I enjoyed it far more than I anticipated. Such a joy because most of the time meals are over hyped and quite frankly over rated. This was like eating at home only a thousand times better because let’s face it, no one in my family cooks like this!
Mahrukh has an association with Authentic Cook where folks sign up to try various themed meals and while she’s done plenty with typical traditional Parsi dishes – the usual suspects that folks want, this one was slightly different. The theme was seafood and she managed to tweak it about and showcase some very interesting dishes that Parsis eat but aren’t always talked about.
To give you a little insight, Mahrukh grew up in a small town called Navsari in Gujarat and learned authentic Parsi recipes from her aunt at a tender age of 7. She’s extremely passionate about her cuisine and food and it shows in her cooking. Here menu today started with tyipical Lagan nu Acchar and Saria which are like entrées served traditionally at a wedding.
We Parsis love our eggs and I personally can’t live without them. We make our own version of scrambled eggs or bhurji that we call Akoori but this is the first time I’ve eaten them with Prawns. Mahrukh stares at me in disbelief because she’s grown up eating this in Navsari and can’t understand how I haven’t eaten it before. I can’t understand how I didn’t think to add prawns to my beloved akoori before! The prawns are cooked in onion garlic and spices and the eggs are then added to the mixture and loosely scrambled. Best eaten with warm chapatis ( rotlis as we parsi folks like to say ) this is a beautiful egg dish.
The second dish she pulls out wasn’t meant to be on the menu but she chanced upon them at the market and so we had a special egg yolk delicacy. They look all funny but it’s egg yolks from gauti ( local ) chicken cooked in spices and served as an appetizer. So there is no egg white or anything it’s just the yolk and really tasty.
We are predominantly meat eaters but we love our fish and spicy fried fish or tareli macchi is a must at any feast. At home we love eating fried fish with a humble dal and rice or plain chapati but the hero is always the fish. Mahrukh made a spectacular fried fish with her own secret masala mixture ( all made in house ) and with fresh catch. We had surmai and halwa but no rawas as the gills were two days old and as we know by now, if it ain’t fresh then it’s not going on Mahrukh’s table. This was possibly my favourite dish from the entire menu which is really surprising because I don’t like fish and I almost never eat this Parsi style fried fish but this was tasty, soft and really good.
Despite being a seafood menu, there was a sali chicken or chicken with fried potato straws. What I didn’t know was that traditionally this dish was not meant to have sali. In Navsari and the smaller villages in Gujarat it is eaten with these fried chunks of potato till they are brown and nearly burnt. The flavour comes from these potatoes but in time folks added sali ( probably easier to cook ) and now it’s become a typical Mumbai dish. Mahrukh looks quite forlorn as she explains this saying she hates when she sees the sali because it was never meant to be. She does however serve it with sali because her guests always want that but insists you know it’s origin. The chicken needless to say is best eaten with chapati and is deliciously tender. No spice here but full of flavour and chunky potatoes.
The main dish of the menu is Prawn Curry Rice or Kolmi Curry Chaval and Mahrukh made a fantastic curry full of massive fresh river prawns. If you’ve been following my social media updates then you know by now that for me Sunday is Curry day and for once a joy to eat the curry without having to make it myself! Prawn curry is my favoruite type of curry so needless to say this was another hit for me. It’s just that I couldn’t do justice to it because I was stuffed from the previous dishes.
I’m not a dessert person but Mahrukh ended her meal with a delicious rose flavoured milk custard ( almost jelly like ) along with regular jelly. A mithai or sweet we call Suterfeni ( sometimes we say Buddhi Ka Bal) and a popular pastry made with lentils called Dar Ni Pori.
By this time I’m ready for my nap and can’t eat a single thing more. I say my thank yous and good byes and shamelessly tell Mahrukh to remember me when she makes her Tatreli Prawns and Chapat.
Mahrukh takes orders for Parsi food and actually has a massive menu of different cuisines she cooks. She hosts meals like this at her house and even does cooking classes if you want a private tutorial. For more details get in touch with her on facebook and instagram or mail her at email@example.com
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