First successful recce and sighting was done in April 2008 (target identified) and in depth recce was done in September 2008, met Mrs Dhuni Bagli she invited us over on Sunday 7th September or on Monday the 8th. She did mention, Dhansak, Patranee Machi, Farcha, ummm. Started reminiscing about my first time (i meant parsi food), at Sarosh in Ahmednagar in the interiors of Maharashtra in the mid 80's Dhansak, brown rice (Ahmednagar has ACC&S Armoured Corps centre and school and is often referred to fondly, as Paris for the roughnecks from the hinterland of Nabha, Suratgarh and Pathankot in the Armoured Corps). Then remembered eating Ava Sethna's, food, who's 5500 sq ft house at Queens Apartments at Pali Hill Mumbai, I had lived in 2000. Of course, the berry pulao and sali boti at Cafe Britannia at Mumbai Fort, washed down with a Dukes raspberry soda. The Cafe Mocambo and Jimmy Boy again at Mumbai with nice and interesting Parsi food.
Delhi has no luck to savour Parsi food, one can be lucky with knowing the the 40 odd families including Dilshad and Vispy Saher (my first boss at Times of India). Usually I haven't been lucky with invitations. So like Hannibal, decided to make my own way through the proverbial Alps and find my own parsi food. We were all set, I reconfirmed on Sunday, we are coming for lunch on Monday at the Parsi rest house. Called a few like minded friends, 2 out of three confirmed.
Alex Shantanu and I got into the clean and serene Parsi Anjuman (houses the fire temple), said my pleasantries to Mrs Bagli and sat down in the dining hall of the rest house. It was medium lit with 6-8 tables for six, with a fireplace and mantelpiece with black and white photos in old frames, curtains drawn. The other table was occupied by a distinguished looking family with clipped accents and the gent wearing a vintage golf cap. Food was already flowing on their table. We did not know how to order. We waited and said food for three.
The waiter came and placed a large platter of brown (caramelised rice/ pulao), garnished with 8 potato dumplings, a plate of banana leaf wrapped fish (I guess river sole), Patranee Machi. A small gap, Binoufer the daughter-in law steps in, orders the waiter to place the dining plates and spoons, they get activated, bring the crockery and cutlery with three portions of chicken Dhansak. Strangely all the portions on our, and every other table have only chicken legs. The food is as good as home made parsi food, wholesome. Its not chilly hot, its delicately flavoured as five star hotel menus would like to call it. Enjoyable.
Magically three portions of dessert Laganu Custard appear ( caramel custard, crusted with resins). We polish off everything we are served, Alex and I dive into the food, Shantanu is circumspect, slowly our infectious enthusiasm catches on and he dives in headlong as well. We all love and enjoy the experience and we walked it from work.The price, we are served with bill it mentions 3 lunches rather cutely, for Rs 450/-. Ooops we missed the under Rs 100/- mark for local exotica. But, this is not local exotica its imported exotica (Parsi in Delhi). It was a nice meal.
I could write treatise on my tryst with parsi's the genealogy,the anthropology, the taxonomy and their mood swings and the inconsistency in behaviour. Or their sterling qualities as philanthropist. It suffices to say as William Sacket, the cowboy in Louis L'Amour westerns would say, the parsis and definitely Mrs Bagli and her crew know how to put groceries together.