Pateti

Pateti is the last day of the Parsi calendar year. Navroze, the following day, is the first day of the New Year. Pateti is derived from a word that means repentance. Why, then, does every(Parsi)body wish every(other Parsi)body Pateti Mubarak? I read up on that as well. Turns out, traditionally, the Parsi stands in front of the Holy Fire on this day and accepts forgiveness for the sins he has committed in the past year – hence repentance. At the same time, he also asks for strength and courage to deal with the problems that may arise in the future and also promises to live a more upright (possibly purer) life this year – hence happiness. Thus, having rid himself of sins, he has become worthy of being called a Parsi and consequently, has the right to wish a fellow Parsi Pateti Mubarak.

I was not born a Parsi. But there have been several times I wished I was one. For the simple things in life that they appreciate far better than most other people. For their ever-present mirth and innate goodwill. For the fantastic food. For the cute words they’ve introduced to Gujarati, as a language. And so much more.

My mum suggested we bring home some Parsi food for dinner. She had made Dhansak (daal, methi and meat cooked together into a delicious gravy). We usually make ours vegetarian because my grandparents are vegetarian and they absolutely love dhansak. We complement it with kheema (or chicken) pulav, which my mum cooks with dry spices (cinnamon, bay leaves, cardamom, cloves, black peppercorn) and caramelized onions.

And she bought mutton cutlets and salli murgh from Dorabjee’s. There are a few Dorabjee’s stores in Pune, as far as I know. And I’m not sure if all of them are owned by the same family. There’s a huge superstore near M.G. Road. And there’s a small eatery, just off the road nest to Lal Deval (the synagogue where the Tunak Tunak Daler Mehndi song was shot?). That’s where they sell some really really awesome Parsi food. Every day. I remember bunking lectures during undergraduate school to gorge on the mutton biryani there. And I remember paying not more than Rs 70/- a plate.

Dorabjee and Sons Restaurant
No. 845, Sharbat wala Chowk,
Dastur Meher Road,
Laskar Camp,
Pune 411001

They were already out of mutton biryani, Friday evening about 8:30 pm. Says all that needs to be said about how good it is.

The mutton cutlets were divine. Deep-fried and dark brown and crisp on the outside. And the yummiest, most well cooked kheema stuffing EVER. The wonderful part, as reading tells me, is that the mutton (kheema) isn’t precooked. The cutlets are made with spices and kheema and deep fried allowing the mutton to cook only when it’s fried. I would’ve worry myself shitless over whether or not the mutton would cook properly. But looks like it does. And gives you the tastiest mutton cutlets you might have ever eaten.

The salli murgh, let’s say, was ordinary. It was good old masaledaar chicken curry (with only a hint of sweet) served with potato sev. The combination is always a win. My mum is usually bothered by the slight sweetness that the curry seems to have. When I read up on a few recipes and Parsi cuisine, in general, I figured the sweetness was owing to apricots. Silly of me to have not realized that because ever so often I’ve seen Jardaloo Sali Boti on restaurant menus.

We ended with some Mawa ni Boi (Mawa in a Fish Mould, traditionally). This dessert is made by kneading khoya/khawa and stuffing it with dried fruits and gulkand.

And, of course, weekends and dinners means alcohol galore.

(The other time I wrote in detail about Parsi food/culture was when my mum and I made Patra Ni Machchi.)

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