In this rat-race called life, where the normal person works five days a week, we think ek break toh banta hai..from the routine, at least on the weekends! So here’s the first story of our brand new series,“EXPLORE”… where we literally go and explore little-known places to get you interesting tit-bits about food, culture and traditions… all on a set of fancy wheels! Guess our ride for the day?! We start our journey to the small, sleepy village of Talasari, in Palghar district behind the wheel of the BMW 3GT.
BMW has been offering two car models under its Gran Turismo (GT) lineup. The 5GT, based on the 5-Series and the 3GT, based on the 3-Series models. The Gran Turismo concept was first showcased in 2009 at the Frankfurt Auto Show with the 3-Series Gran Turismo. BMW introduced the 3GT into the Indian market in 2014 and globally in 2013. Sizewise, the 3GT is larger than the 3-Series and offers comfort levels very close to the 5-Series in terms of seating and cabin dimensions. The 3GT is perhaps one of the most under-rated models from BMW in India. The best-selling 3-Series got a facelift last year and then the 3GT also got its due facelift as it’s based on the 3-Series. The German car maker launched the facelift 3-Series GT in our country late last year.
Fast, furious and fantastic… that’s how the ride in this car can be described. Starting at a comfortable time from Thane, we took the Ghodbunder road. After a right turn at Hotel fountain, we caught the Gujarat Highway straight to Talasari, reaching this particular village perfectly at lunchtime. Amazing roads, great scenery and 2.5 hours later, we were there. We had chosen this little-known destination for a reason…To explore the famous but not oft-found Parsi food in India!
Urvaksh Hoyvoy, who runs the ‘Parsi da Dhabha’ says, opening the restaurant in 2009 on NH-8 en-route from Mumbai to Ahmedabad, about 150 km from here, was his way of trying to preserve the legacy of their food. “Rich, pure, wholesome, rustic and robust. That’s Parsi cuisine to me. It is unique. It’s spicy, sweet and sour. It’s robust and elegant. It’s complex yet simple. One thing it isn’t, it’s not a quick bite. It’s food you sit down and enjoy.”
The half-mad Bawas…or the Parsees, as they as lovingly known by all those who know them closely, originally came from Persia in the 17th century, now known as Iran. They eventually settled along the west coast of India and it’s during that time they developed a distinct cuisine, one that proudly boasts of Gujarati, Maharashtrian, Iranian and British flavours.
Jovial, fun-loving and absolutely non-interfering, this small community brought along with them some of their Persian traditions. But while doing so, they also adopted the local cuisine and blended it according to their taste and spices.
Parsi cuisine is a strange mix comprising of simple, yet diverse ingredients that in theory seem a bit odd but make complete sense in a dish. Coconut, herbs, plums, apricots and raisins can be found majorly in their recipes. Saffron too, is used to balance the flavours of the rice which accompanies their meat, lamb or fish dishes. Cinnamon, parsley and dried lime too, find their way into the special preparations. Since they settled in India, the Parsis started using onions, vegetables, garlic, ginger, red chillies and tamarind in their cuisine.
Humata, Hukha, Huvarshta… Good thoughts, good words and good deeds. That’s what the Parsis firmly believe in, the impact of which can be clearly seen on their food. And as good living is considered incomplete without good food, today, Parsi food has evolved into a mix of vegetarian Gujarati and non-vegetarian Iranian cuisine.
So here we go…. On a gastronomical journey that takes our palates and plates through an array of mouth-watering and delectable Parsi dishes! The structure of the dome itself is eye-catchy and different, reminiscent of old Parsi structures. The surroundings are green and rustic, the ambience, homely. We immediately feel at home and look forward eagerly to the delicious food. The service is prompt, the people friendly and loving, and have been serving there since ages. The food is cooked in an open kitchen where nothing is hidden from the customers. We tried the Marghi na Farcha Nuggets in Tomato gravy, Kheema Half Fry with Butter Pav, Salli Boti Pizza, Chicken Dhansak, Chocolate Dudh Puff, Strawberry Dudh Puff and Caramel Custard. Phew! The menu boasted of a whole lot of mouth-watering delicacies… but we were absolutely stuffed. Those dishes are surely hold promise of another visit to this homely place.
Parsis love to cook extravagant feasts that are absolutely mind-blowing… Some of the famous ones being – Koimino patio (a sweet and sour prawn curry), Dhandal patio (fish curry served with rice and lentils), Akoori, Dhan Daal with Khaari fish and Kopra Pak (Coconut Fudge), Salli Margi, Patra ni Macchi, Parsi Mutton Cutlets, Salli par Edu, Lagan Nu Custard…..the list could go on and on!
The owner of the Dhaba, Urvaksh Hoyvoy, is a third gen entrepreneur. Born into a milk & dairy business of Parsi Dairy Farm and Dairyland. This was established by his late grandfather Mr. Nariman Ardeshir Hoyvoy, and his sons, of which his father was Naval Nariman Hoyvoy who took the business to higher heights in a professional way, having studied Food & Dairy Technology at the royal Institute of Food & Dairy Technology in Bangalore.
Our last stop before we started back was the Dairyland Parlour for a taste of the super rich Malai Kulfi. It proved to be true to its name and we left with a mouthful of creamy sweetness.
The drive back to Mumbai in the BMW 3GT was a nostalgic one. I was taken down memory lane by the superb meal we’d just had because it reminded me of my Nani’s cooking, who was a Parsi. Driving, or zipping along in the grand BMW, the days of growing up eating her delicious Parsi dishes everyday, flashed past my eyes once more. This trip had indeed been a special one… and we look forward to visiting the Parsi Da Dhaba once again…soon!
Food Trail in a BMW Photo Gallery
Written by Vaishali Kowli