Pairing Wise: Parsi cuisine & wines
Pairing wines with Indian food is difficult but not impossible. It is a challenge to pair with wines with the variety of spices, flavor profile and not to mention the pungency and heat of Indian food.
Parsi cuisine for instance, is an amalgamation of Iranian and Gujarati influences. So the meat dominated and cooking techniques of Iran has a twist with sweet and spice heavy influences of Gujarat. It is said that the best Parsi meals are found at weddings, even the community waits in patience for the next wedding where the famous Godiwala Caterers will dish out the staples.
While a Parsi wedding was too tough to get our hands on, we got Perzen Patel, who caters for Parsi food, desserts and dips and also blogs under the moniker of Bawi Bride, to create some home style Parsi bhonu as we paired wines with them.
Akoori – Parsi version of Egg Bhurji or scrambled eggs with onions, tomatoes and spices. It is up to you how you make it, dry or crumbly. Or creamy, the way Patel chose to make it. We suggest pairing it with a Sparkling wine like Chandon Brut or Sula Brut.
Another variation of the Akoori is the Bharoochi Akoori which uses dry fruits like raisins and apricots. This would go very well with Riesling or Torrontes. Both of these are excellent white wines that are not very popular in India.
Salli Gosht or Salli Boti – Slow cooked lamb or mutton cooked in tomato reduction, spiced with cloves and bay leaves; served with a generous helping of salli or finely chopped fried potatoes. The dish starts of with the sweetness of tomatoes on the palate leading way for a nice punch of heat in the end. A fruit forward easy drinking wine like the Fratelli Cabernet Franc- Shiraz blend manages to balance well with both the sweet and pungency of the dish. Key is to pick a wine which is very low on tannins.
Talera Boomla – This is a family special in Patel’s household, she picked it up from her grandfather. The Boomla or Bombay Duck is fried in a batter of rice flour and semolina till its crisp. The softness of the fish and crispy exterior is a good foil for a Sparkling wine to show its versatility.
Patra-ni-Machhi – Pomfret in coconut and coriander paste steamed in banana leaves. This is a an all time wedding favorite for the Parsis and surprisingly easy to make. If you do not have banana leaves handy, try the hipster way – steam the fish in baking paper. A Chardonnay is a good bet with this dish.
Chicken Dhansak – Perhaps the most recognized dish from the Parsi repertoire, Dhansak is a Sunday special in a Parsi household using leftover vegetables of the week cooked with three types of lentil and meat of your choice. Ours was chicken. Creamy lentils flavored with subtle spices goes well with a Shiraz but a white wine like a crisp Sauvignon Blanc will also do it justice. If the Dhansak is too spicy, we suggest you grab a beer instead.
To know more about Perzen Patel and Bawi Bride here.