Nagpur: Nagpur has been long endorsing the rich aroma of Irani tea, albeit in rare availability. Why only Irani chai, even the longing for chicken farchas, patrani machhi and berry pulao has been high on the taste on Nagpur food lovers. Welcome to rich food heritage of Parsi community which has long been associated with its distinct culture and of course, a large platter of mouthwatering delicacies. There has been a good chunk of Parsis spread out in Nagpur but the city food lovers have been elusive of its rich taste for long! Now the newly opened Bawa Restaurant near old VCA stadium in Civil Lines in Sadar has stepped up to bring alive the tempting taste and rich aroma of genuine Parsi cuisines to please the senses of Nagpur food connoisseurs. For the beginners, ‘Bawa’ is a colloquially used term to address Parsi community, and hence the name!
Taste of Art
Well, not only food even the art at the restaurant is tasteful! As you step in you are greeted with the pictures of Field Marshal Manekshaw, the Parsi Cricket team, few inspiring messages, Parsi Pop singer, along with attractive pictures of many Parsi celebrities including Daisy Irani and more. The ambience that one gets to enjoy in the flat turned restaurant is unique and worth visiting. The lights at the patio and near the tables spread at the out-door is worth enjoying. If the ambience does not get to your liking, the mouth watering delicacies will certainly do.
The non-vegetarian mouth watering delicacies including chicken, mutton, egg and the different variety of vegetarian delicacies will certainly enhance your choice of liking of different food items.
Exploring the roots…
Three young guys decided to hit the roads with their main objective of starting a restaurant. While many youngsters would be embarrassed to stand on the foot-path and sell goodies, these youngsters not only stood boldly at one corner of the Traffic Park in Dharampeth and held a flash sale of Parsi delicacies of including Chicken Cutlets and Chicken Farchas.
Sharing their experience, young entrepreneurs Sudarshan Barai (a graduate in Business Administration) and Yohan Doongaji (former worker of his father’s Steel Wool manufacturing company) said that they never thought that it would such a hit that customers would want to get it backed and relish it at their place. It was then that they made arrangements to go and buy the readymade plastic and aluminium foil containers. Till they reached the spot, they did not even realize that they need a table to showcase their products. Then they took one on rent from a Bichayat Kendra. However, the servings were so tasteful that all their 32 Chicken Cutlets and Chicken Farchas were off the platter within 45 minutes on the first day. On second day they doubled the numbers which again got sold soon.
They had a small battery operated speaker on which they played good music which had the youth getting drawn to their stall. This flash sale of Parsi delicacies at Traffic Park lasted for 6-8 months. There were many customers who got hooked to their mouth watering delicacies. Well one would wonder who is behind their success. It was none other than the mother of Yohan Doongaji.
It was she who prepared these dishes and helped them. All she had were two helpers. However all was not a bed a roses as it appeared. The young entrepreneurs minced no words when they said that they did have their highs and lows, joys and disappointments. However, both have taken it on their stride which they call it a learning experience. They learnt many valuable insights especially about Business, Customers’ likings, the preferred taste or palate etc. They learnt one very vital concept of “what it takes to hang on-Patience”. They then went on to provide party orders with home-delivery on an order of minimum 10 people. Then came Bawa restaurant which was opened last year in November.
The gourmet’s delight
At Bawa, the Parsi food turns alive in full aroma, texture and of course the genuine taste. Where the taste of Dhan Saak (Mutton or Chicken served with Brown (Caramelized) Rice) instantly hit the taste buds, it also adheres to the norms of home cooked Parsi dish.Then there is Patrani Machhi, which is prepared in the classic Parsi fish preparation style by coating Pomfret fillets in coconut chutney, wrapped in banana leaves and steamed. Farchas are all time favorites of all Parsi food lovers. Parsee Chicken Farcha is often served as a starter or appetizer at festivities or wedding ceremonies in the community. Berry Pulao also known as Zereshk Polo Ba Morgh (Fragrant Rice with Iranian Berries Zirisht, Chicken and Saffron): The soft fluffy rice, the succulent meat and the Zirisht berries can make any mouth water incessantly over just the thought of it. The recipe is a closely guarded family secret and no amount of Googling will yield any result. The fragrant saffron rice bejeweled with bright yellow chicken pieces and red glistening Zirisht is a dish one must taste. Lagan Nu Custard or Wedding Custard is a traditional dessert which is part of every Parsi celebration menus. The dish is a creamy, sweet and caramelized, garnished with nuts and raisins. This fragrant baked custard can be a rich and indulgent treat too. One must most certainly taste this for dessert.
The duo informed that they would be soon starting the breakfast menu, which too offers multiple choices. Akuri is a spicy scrambled egg dish made in Parsi style. Akuri is cooked until almost runny; the eggs are never overcooked. The main flavours are fried onions along with ginger, coriander, chopped chillis, and black pepper. Maska Bun / Paw is Bread or Bun cut and a heavy coating of butter is applied in the cut portion.
Cold Coffees, Iranian Chai (Tea) and many more watering dishes.
By Samuel Gunasekharan
Pics by Vinay Nimgade