25 August 2015

An Ode to The Parsi Dairy Farm

I woke up to sad news and a heavy heart yesterday. The front page of the Times of India covered the news that the iconic Parsi Dairy Farm may shutter soon. I narrated my memories with this Parsi dairy establishment over lunch with the colleagues. I tweeted vociferously over the probable closure of the place that provided one of my favorite childhood treats. I enraged over the closure of many such heritage spaces in the city, because we ourselves don't have the time or inclination to visit them anymore. I ended the day with a phone conversation with Bee, moaning over how my children would never understand the joy of eating a Mawa Ni Boi from Parsi Dairy farm on Navroze.

And then I thought, when was the last time I visited Parsi Dairy Farm? When was the last time I gifted a box of pendas, or suttarfani to my friends, instead of chocolates or cake? When was the last time I drove over to town and decided to have a kulfi at Parsi Dairy Farm instead of a fancy ice cream sundae, or macaron from a top notch patisserie? The answer is not in the recent past. 

Image Courtesy: Indiatimes
With an establishment like the Parsi Dairy Farm, that has been in existence since 99 years, you begin to take it's presence for granted. "Ohh, it's been there for so many years, it's not going anywhere. Let me go have dessert at this new patisserie/ pop up first. Parsi Dairy, I can always do later". Unfortunately, you need more that just a trustworthy name for an organization to work. You need clientele, and backing. As a fellow Zoroastrian, the majority clientele of Parsi Dairy Farm, I can embarrassingly say that we have moved on to other pastures. 

Personally for me and my family, it became tougher to go all the way to Princess Street to get sweets and mithais for occasions. We found a sweet vendor on Hill Road in Bandra who would deliver sutterfani to our doorstep. Convenience and comfort won over culture and memories. It seems to be the same with a lot of Parsi-Irani families, as the TOI report states a shocking reduction in their sales. They barely supply 2000 liters of milk today, from the 15000 liters a decade ago.

I have such beautiful memories with the sweets at Parsi Dairy Farm. I remember unwrapping a blue box, with the cow logo of Parsi Dairy Farm on the wrapping paper, every Navroze. A beautiful, large fish made out of sweet mawa covered with silver varq, and a ruby red eye stared back at me. And then there are those creamy, caramel toffees called Milk Drops, that guarantees a visit to your dentist on account of how sticky they are. I'd give anything to bite into one right now, and feel like a chubby ten year old again.
And then there is the kulfi. Seeing a Parsi Dairy Farm kulfi at a Parsi wedding, was akin to a status symbol. It meant the hosts had spent a lot on the per plate/ paatra cost. And that an extra hundred rupees had to be put in the 'peraamni' envelope. That kulfi tasted just as creamy, natural, and beautiful every time I have eaten it. And my mother loves the Bhel they have. You'd be surprised at how delicious and hearty their underrated Bhel is. Though I haven't eaten there recently, so we hope the quality has remained consistent.
Milk Drops. Image Courtesy: Godrej Nature's Basket
Mawa Ni Boi. Image Courtesy: Bhavnagri Sweets
I resorted to Twitter today morning, to ask people their memories and favorites from this heritage space. I expected Bawas on my time line to reply, but I was pleasantly surprised to see how many non-Parsis had food memories attached to the place. Natasha Vakil, spoke about the fragrance of milk that would emanate from the place. Reading that tweet brought back such a strong olfactory memory for me. It's beautiful, the power of food, and the memories it evokes. 

14 August 2015

Time Travel - Quench All Day Pub, Juhu

Have you ever dined in a place that made you feel like you have gone back in time? I felt like I had time traveled when I visited Quench - All Day Pub in Juhu a week ago. My two hours there made me reminiscent of my college days, with the cheaply priced booze, basic old school food menu, 90s rock and pop music, and painted wall decor. I frequented the Quench outlet in Bandra regularly, as a post-college jaunt with friends. The Juhu branch was similar in so many ways, stuck in a time that went by. If you are a 90s kid like I am, you're college life would have been incomplete without local watering holes such as Pop Tates, Jugheads, Alfredo's and more. Quench for me, falls in that same bracket.

Decor - With a conventional food and drinks menu, the thing that sets Quench All Day Pub aside from the others, is it's eye grabbing decor. Completely hand painted, kitschy, with a major rock and roll influence - here you'll find graffiti and song lyrics painted on the walls and ceilings. Hand painted Michael Jackson, and John Lennon murals ensure you always have company. And each table top is a fun, different theme - my favorite is the Saap Seedi table which can actually be used to create a fun drinking game with shots! And their playlist is filled with songs from an era gone by - beautiful music so rarely found in bars nowadays. 

12 August 2015

Jamva Chalo Ji - My Parsi Food Favorites with Bawi Bride at JW Sahar

Parsi food - one of my top three reasons for being a proud Parsi. I cannot get enough of good ol' Parsi bhonu, inspite of having a fair amount of it at home. Give me my salli par eedu, kababs, and saas ni macchi anyday, over a Michelin star meal! With Parsi New Year just around the corner, the festivities have already begun. My favorite Bawi Bride - home chef extraordinaire, Parsi food pop up organizer, daily lunch Bhonu supplier, and a dear dear friend - has partnered up with the JW Marriott, Sahar to bring us a week long celebration of Bawa Bhonu. Jamva Chalo Ji!

At the JW Cafe - the all day dining space at the swanky JW Sahar - from the 8th to the 18th of August, you'll have the opportunity to dine on Parsi delicacies in addition to their regular extensive buffet. The Bawi Bride Kitchen brings to the table old classics, secret family recipes, and newer modern interpretations of Parsi cooking that Perzen Patel so painstakingly has compiled and cooked for us. And just like me, if you haven't received an invite for a Parsi wedding in a long time, checking out the Parsi food festival at JW Sahar may be a good bet. With a rotating menu every night, Perzen promises to mix it up with some old classics, and some unknown dishes that you'd only get to try in a Parsi home. I found some popular Parsi classic dishes on the menu, some of them a personal favorite. Here goes!

Round One: Start off your meal with the syrupy, sweet Raspberry - a drink that will take most Bawas back to celebration time either at weddings or navjotes, where the clink of these bottles mark the onset of a delicious meal. The love of Raspberry is an acquired taste and so many first time drinkers quote that it tastes like 'cough syrup', but for me it tastes like childhood. If you're experimental, up the ante with the pungent Ginger drink - not for the faint hearted. 

Round Two: Kababs. Cutlets. Inc. An integral part to a Parsi meal, and my personal favorites - cutlets and kababs are eaten as a side to the main dish, or as a snack. These deep fried balls of meat, potato, bread is every Bawa's version of food porn. That night I gobbled up some delicious kheema kababs, and potato cheese balls, feeling proud to belong to a community that contributed these calorie laden delicacies to the world.