One of the many qualities Parsi’s are known to have – aside from prominent noses, serious eccentricities and a passion for two-wheelers – is a delectable offering of their fine cuisine. It’s wicked, incredibly creative and even non-Parsis are likely to become ardent fans once sampled. Having dated one I speak from first hand experience in the subject matter, given the classic belted dishes that passed out from her kitchen.
In Delhi recently,the opportunity presented itself- Dinner suggested by a friend, I gleefully and instantaneously accepted.(old memories et all).At Rustom’s- one can expect the classic Parsi delicacies such as Kheema Pattice (spiced mutton mince stuffed in mashed potato patties with an egg casing) , Paatra Ni Macchi (sole fillets encased in a mint coriander chutney and steamed in banana leaves), Mutton Dhan Sak (spiced masala dal with vegetables, served with caramelized rice and vinegared kachumber and kheema kebabs) lest forget the amazing side dish accompaniments such as Salli (fried & salted crisp potato straws), Malai Na Paratha and Parsi Rotli and a whole lot more.
However his post is NOT about how great the food is (believe you me its scrumptious) or the homerun showcase of desserts such as Lagan Nu Custard (Baked egg custard with nuts and raisins) & Caramel Custard. The food here is testament, that all you need is simple homestyle food to make people fall in love with a cuisine that belongs to a relatively small yet culturally rich community.The eye for simple detail stands out in this small establishment that can seat 20-25 people (on the higher side) with antique ornaments and beautiful pictures adorning the walls (photographed by filmmaker Sooni Taraporevala) all reflective of the Parsi way of living.
This post goes back in time – to the ambience, the era of deja-vu, the memory of that peculiar taste and THE drink- The Pallonji Raspberry Soda. Mind you this soda is not for the faint hearted. Known for sweet nothings it has the makings of something Getafix would stir up in his cauldron to give Asterix & Obelix a super charged sugar rush. But it has its historicals in place and, that is what I love. No Parsi meal is complete without it. Its like a lingering first kiss calling you for more or the euphoria Dracula might have felt looking tempestuously at the throbbing vein of his victims. Its transfixing not to mention addictive. Due to limited production the brand is something that has it confinements to most Parsi households and restaurants/cafes where one can sip into a taste of the past. (Case in point the soda at Rustom’s is sourced all the way from Mumbai) Much like Goa & her Feni produce.Traditional legacy intact!!! Locally produced, globally yearned for.
Lest not forget the music that accompanies ones meal- retro indeed, sending one into a lull of melancholy of the years gone by- interspersed with food, conversations and laughter the setting provides for an ideal meal. If you are an antique aficionado look out for the little quirks like a magnifying glass presented with the bill (to read better..a hint of Parsi humor en tow) or the grandfather clock- time holding still and spend some conscious time going through the menu (which is a historical document entirely – menu interspersed with B/W photographs (to distract you from the main purpose…i.e.to order) this quaint little place throws you back in time with good food for company.
In the immortal words of my almost-to-be-parsi-father-in-law when i politely refused a beer offering, “Daar bari gayi” (translated literally means ‘the dal is burnt’ – for non parsi meanings it is someone who is miffed or angry). Note to self dikra (boy); never refuse a man offering.