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Shining the Spotlight on Parsi Food
To understand Parsi Food, we need to step back in time and take a look at the Zoroastrian immigrants’ arrival on the western shores of India from Persia to escape religious persecution, around the 8th Century CE.
Followers of the teachings of Prophet Zarathustra/Zoroaster, the ancient religion of Zoroastrianism is as relevant today in its basic tenets of ‘Good Thought, Good Words, Good Deeds’ as it was in the days of King Darius I of Persia. Legend goes that since these immigrants came from the Persian region of ‘Fars’ and spoke the ancient language of ‘Farsi’, they soon came to be known as ‘Parsi Zoroastrians’ or ‘Parsee’ around the Indian subcontinent.
Most of the Parsis settled around Gujarat on the west coast of the country and adapted to India’s food habits and culture. Over the last thousand years, thanks to our love of food, the Parsi cuisine has been history in the making, as it evolved into a unique west Indian regional cuisine. A stunning creation of food with ancient Persian touches added to well-known Indian ingredients and cooking techniques.
Our ancestors’ early relationship with India fittingly starts with food. An interesting tale of the Parsis landing on the west coast of India has been passed down the generations and goes something like this: Upon arriving in Gujarat on the coast of west India around the 8th century CE, the leader of the Zoroastrian immigrants was promptly informed by the ruling King of Gujarat that his land was already quite populated and there was no space for immigrants. Since the two sides spoke different languages, they used metaphoric gestures to convey their thoughts. The King used a bowl filled up to its brim with milk, to signify that his land (the bowl) was filled to capacity with milk (his population) and hence more milk cannot be added to this bowl. At this point, the intelligent Zoroastrian leader took a spoonful of sugar (signifying the immigrants) and very carefully, without spilling a drop, stirred the sugar into the bowl of milk; thus signifying that the new handful of Zoroastrian immigrants would only be adding sweetness to the land and blend with his people like milk and sugar. I guess that sealed the deal, and the Zoroastrian diaspora became an integral part of India.
Perinaz (Peri) Avari
Three things inspire Peri: Family & Friends, Food & Wine, and Travel.
A proud Parsi Zoroastrian and native of cosmopolitan Mumbai on the west coast of India, Peri is a hospitality graduate who’s has been on many ‘food and beverage adventures’ though Asia, Europe and North America, especially during her 10 years working for the Taj Group, one of the finest luxury hotel chains in India. Her last assignment was heading marketing/sales at the beautiful Taj West End in Bangalore, prior to which she had a career spanning 8 years at the stunning historic flagship Taj Mahal Palace Hotel in Mumbai.
Now living in America, Peri shares her hospitality wisdom and passion for Parsi and Indian food by creating simple recipes with a global appeal, through her informative articles and world travel adventures on Peri’s Spice Ladle.
Growing up in Mumbai (then Bombay) as part of a well-traveled and progressive Parsi family, at home her mom cooked the most authentic Parsi meals, a west Indian regional cuisine with Persian influences. While Parsi-style Indian food was the daily norm, her Dad had a strict travel rule that the family must eat only the local cuisine offerings of that city/country. Peri holds that sentiment true to this day and makes sure her kids know it too.
Exploring various cuisines of the world is a passion for Peri and her husband, who shares her love for food. Currently they’re devoted to bringing up their two young sons to be ‘citizens of the world’ by exposing them to different foods and cultures. In the last year, their family travel adventures took them through Spain in the winter and India in the summer.
You’ll find Peri’s weekly articles, Parsi and Indian-inspired recipes for the global palate, travel talk and musings on her website Peri’s Spice Ladle.