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ITC Grand Central, Mumbai

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A happy Navroz 2016 was the highlight of the week that went by

Posted by: Kalyan Karmakar On Sunday, Aug 21 2016

Source: http://www.finelychopped.net/2016/08/a-happy-navroz-2016-was-highlight-of.html?m=

Tags: Dining

Navroz or the Parsi New Year. If I think back on the week that passed by, then its high point has to be Navroz, or the Parsi New Year, which fell on 17th August this time. As you might know, I am a Bengali  married to a Parsi. Navroz celebrations for us are times for the family to get together. Usually over some good food. My mom in law and her sister are out of town right now. So apart from K and me, only K's mama (maternal uncle) was around. He joined us and we went to the ITC Grand Central for lunch. When Hornby Pavilion seemed like Albless Baug. The general manager of the ITC Grand Central Hotel, Mr Kerman Lalkaka, is Parsi too and had invited us over for lunch to the Hornby where the buffet featured a few Parsi dishes for the festive occasion. He and his team put together quite an authentic Parsi jamboree right up to the ABBA numbers being belted out over the PA. Lunch at the Hornby Pavilion did seem more like being in a Parsi wedding or Navjot function rather than being in a 5 star hotel and I mean this in a good way. In case you are wondering, Albless Baug is the name of the most popular wedding and Navjot hall among Parsis and is booked years in advance by those who throw parties there. K's Freddy Mama, who is a fairly austere person, felt quite at home at Hornby that afternoon much to our relief. There were elderly Parsi ladies going to the buffet wearing new frocks. Their steps could be a bit unsure but they were very clear about what they wanted on their plate. There were grandpas wearing topis/ black caps, dresses in white shirts and black trousers, holding their walking sticks, led to the buffet table by their young grandsons. Once at the buffet, they pushed the grandsons and the sticsk away and filled their plates with  youthful gusto. There were little boys and little girls running across the hall. Dressed in bright new clothes, peals of laughter trailing them. Everyone looked happy and the smiles were infectious. The Parsi food was part of the buffet and was done in consultation with the owner of my favourite Parsi restaurant in Mumbai who has worked with various ITC Hotels in the past too. So the food was spot on. The chicken farcha was pleasantly juicy. I have had many a dry and over cooked farcha (fried chicken) in the past. The Russian pattice kevabs (a newish wedding caterer induced invention) and egg chutney patties were piping hot. We normally have lovely kevabs at Rita and Farhad's house down the road at Nowwroze Baug and I am sure they would have approved of these. Both K and I were delighted to find that we had got the puchhri (tail piece) of the pomfret in the patra ni machhis that we picked from the buffet. It is the most sought after piece of the pomfret by the Parsis. We Bengalis like the head piece of the pomfret which the Parsis avoid as there is less meat. There was a prawn in a chilli coriander curry which I was not familiar with but I was happy to see that the prawns were not over cooked. In meats, there was the traditional salli margi and kid gos. The mutton in the latter is cooked in a white coloured coconut and cashew gravy. My late father in law was not fond of white gravies and would rarely eat kid gos. However, they would order kid gos for me when we went out together as I was fond of it. My mom in law makes a nice version with chicken for me. I requested for some fresh chapatis to be smeared with ghee and served to us which made for nice rotlis. There was no Parsi rice dish for lunch which gave me an opportunity to try the Bohri Biryani from the buffet at ITC Grand Central. What I had that afternoon definitely compares favourably with the best Bohri biryanis that I have had across caterers and from Jeff's. The best thing is that the Bohri Biryani has alu too. Mama, is a rare vegetarian Parsi. He turned vegetarian in his youth because he thought that this was good for him. He was pretty happy with the few vegetarian Parsi vegetarian dishes on offer at the ITC buffet... the tarkari kevab and the ishtew and couldn't get enough of the dal Bukhara which was there in the buffet. "It's got butter," he exclaimed happily. K is very close to him and says that her belief systems in life have been shaped a lot by his and that he was the one who was responsible in fostering a love for reading in her. With her mom and masi not in town, we were happy that mama could join K and me and that we did end up having a wonderful Navroz together. I told mama about how the Dal Bukhara was the centrepiece of one of the two of our's first five star hotel dinners together. We had gone to the ITC Grand Maratha's Peshawari in Andheri east for K's birthday in the mid 2000s. We had gone specifically for the Dal Bukhara as K is a big fan of black dals.The Parsi dessert spread was pretty elaborate too. It featured doodh na ravo which is similar to the Bengali shoojir payes. My mom in law's neighbour, Zarin aunty, does a lovely rendition of this. There were other Parsi dessert favourites. Lagan nu custard and sutarfeni and sev (sevia). Plus mava nu boi. A sweet made with mava shaped like a fish which is had on auspicious occasions by Parsi. Just as we Bengalis send a shondesh shaped like rohu fish on wedding. I will take a picture of the rui shondesh which is in my paren't wedding album the next time I go home. Oh and there was a chocolate log pie too as Parsis love chocolates as do everyone actually. 

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