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Eat like a Parsi

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This Sunday, Tanaaz Godiwalla will serve her most loved dishes at a rare pop-up

Restaurateur Riyaaz Amlani knows he has scored a coup with this one. Amlani has persuaded one of the city’s most popular Parsi caterers – Tanaaz Godiwalla to host a feast this Sunday, at his Lower Parel restaurant. The first thing, any self respecting Parsi checks with before accepting an invite to any wedding or navjote, is to find out who the caterer is. When it’s Godiwalla, it’s most definitely a yes. Amlani shares the effusive sentiment when he says, “I am half Parsi and whenever I would be invited to navjotes and weddings, Tanaz Godiwalla has been the gold standard for Parsi food, it’s an element of great prestige if the wedding serves her food. People decide the amount of money to gift the couple based on whether Tanaz is catering the event!”

Regional gems

This then, is your best chance to tuck into Parsi culinary delights – and refrain from gatecrashing a wedding. As Amlani puts it, Parsi cuisine is one of the most underrated cuisines. “It has a mix of not just Irani influences but Gujarati food, and food of Mumbai too,” says Amlani. The serial restaurateur has earlier promoted numerous home caterers and cuisines — East Indian, Bohri, Kerala, a typical meal from a Bandra Catholic or a Naga home. One such enterprise, The Bohri Kitchen (TBK) even has a permanent spot at Flea Bazaar Café, the venue for the Godiwalla brunch. Amlani says that now more than ever, people have had the curiosity to try little known gems of Indian food, and are abandoning the foreign hangover and looking inwards. So he is more than happy to play the part to bring attention to the regional culinary gems that are hiding in plain sight.

Exciting space

For Godiwalla, it was the venue and Amlani’s enthusiasm that did the trick, “I met him at a function and he casually said ‘come and have a look at the restaurant’. I got excited after seeing the place. Not everybody is fortunate enough to be invited to a Parsi wedding, and that’s just where you will find this food.” For the brunch, Godiwalla has gone for the real deal. Patrons can expect every typical Parsi wedding dish – Russian Pattice, Patra ni Machi, Salli Chicken, Mutton Pulao with dal, Lagan nu Custard and raspberry soda. When we ask Godiwalla why she’s included Patra ni Machchi instead of her famous Saas ni Machchi, she says that the latter is loved by Bawas, but non-Parsis don’t associate eating fish in a white khatta meetha sauce.

With the growing extravagance associated with Indian weddings, we ask Godiwalla if the younger generation is still happy to have the typical traditional fare on their big day instead of multiple international cuisines. “We do make tweaks to traditional recipes when asked. But with the community becoming smaller each year, people are eager to promote what’s typical of their roots,” she explains.

Loyal clientele

Godiwalla also runs Summer Vines, a 14-room boutique hotel at her vineyard that produces table grapes in Nashik. In Mumbai, she now has a 24/7 kitchen in Byculla and can even take minimum orders of 20 plus gatherings. During the wedding season, her loyal clients know that she caters to weddings almost every day, and whenever she has one, Godiwalla is also open to parcelling even one bhonu meal across the city. Ask her what’s the best compliment she’s received for her food, Godiwalla replies, “People have wanted to marry me after eating my food at weddings. I tell them you don’t need to do that, you just need my number to get me to cater.”

Parsi Bhonu Pop-Up on March 3, 12.45 p.m onwards at Flea Bazaar Café, Kamala Mills, Lower Parel; 24970740; ₹2,250/- (without alcohol) and ₹2,500 (with two gin cocktails)

Published on The Hindu