[Bramhall, Greater Manchester] Bombay to Mumbai - Parsi tasting menu

Fans of B2M will know that the food is nothing like your high street curry house. There’s dishes you’ll probably have never heard of. And, of late, they’ve added another twist with their Sunday night “tasting menu specials”. Seven courses of food specific to a particular region of India. At £29.95, it’s not cheap but it is an absolute bargain for the quality of cooking and, if you like B2M, I’d certainly recommend you give it a try, as a culinary journey. So far, they’ve done menus of food from Goa, Punjab and Gujarat. And last night’s menu featured food from Mumbai’s Parsi community, in celebration of the Zorastrian New Year (Novruz). The community fled Iran centuries ago finding refuge in India, and over time, have adapted their traditional cuisine to their new home.

With a couple of exceptions, we hadnt come across any of the dishes, so had no idea if we’d like them or not. But that’s the fun of tasting menus like this.

First off, there was Osh-e-Meer, a lovely soup made with lentils, greens and noodles. Quite a lot of chilli in this one, so a definite “wake up call” for your tastebuds. Next up was Akuri. It’s usually a breakfast dish – lightly spiced scrambled eggs on toast. Then there was Marghi Na Farcha, a classic Parsi starter which the menu described as “equivalent to KFC but more flavourful, ancient and not frozen”. It was delicious – and when is fried chicken ever not delicious.

Now a dish we have come across before – keema pav – spiced lamb mince, served with chunks of toasted bread. That’s followed by a really fresh tasting fish dish – Patra Ni Machchi. It’s celebration food, often served at Parsi weddings (so Google tells me). The fillet is marinated with coconut paste and spices, coriander being very noticeable (that’s a good thing). It’s then wrapped in a banana leaf and steamed. So good.

Think of all the preceeding food as a selection of starters. You now come to the main course. It comes on a metal tray, with compartments, called a thali. You’ve seen this sort of thing in prison movies, where the prisoners all start banging their trays before the riot starts. There’s three curries. A very simple dish of potato cubes, flavoured with a scattering of mustard seeds and asafoetida. I’ve heard of the latter but not knowingly come across it. Sandeep bought me a little from the kitchen to smell. It’s a pungent, very savoury sort of smell. There’s chicken dhansak which may be familiar as a name from the curry houses where it’s often a sweetish dish flavoured with pineapple. In Parsi culture, this is a Sunday dish, akin in significance to a British family Sunday roast. There’s long cooked lentils, of varying types, and vegetable puree. It’s not sweet. It is excellent. And finally, another wedding celebration dish – Salli Boti – a lamb curry topped with potato straws. For carbs, there’s a flatbread and pilau rice, flavoured with very Iranian barberries for a hint of sharpness.

Which brought us to dessert. A cake made from semolina and milk, flavoured with dried fruits and nuts. Sweet but not overly so. A really nice ending to a really nice evening.


You slay me. :joy: :joy: :joy: :joy:

I think it’s wonderful that you’ve managed to have a Parsi meal at last, John!
The Parsi community only numbered 100,000 worldwide, but their community’s resilience and incredible generosity when it came to philanthropy has never cease to amaze me. Their food was much-feted in India.

I was once tasked with writing about the Parsis in Singapore, and had read up all about them as a consequence of my assignment. Absolutely amazed by their rich history.

The Parsis arrived in India from Persia a thousand years ago, in order to escape their Muslim oppressors. Throughout their long arduous journey across mountains and harsh climes, they carried with them their sacred eternal flame, which was said to have originated from the time of Creation, and had been kept burning in Persia. The flame was known as Iran Shah, in memory of all the ancient kings who once tended to it.

In Mumbai, they remained an enigmatic community.


That’s interesting. I’ve been to a Parsi owned restaurant in London (Cafe Spice Namaste) . The owner, Cyrus Todiwala, is well known for charitable works. In recognition of that, he has been honoured with awards of the MBE and OBE.

Sandeep, the joint owner of B2M, always enjoys doing something for Parsi New Year. As child he used to enjoy going to the Irani cafes (and still does). And his business partner, Donya, is from Iran. She came to the UK to train as an opera singer but worked, as a server, in Sandeep’s previous restaurant. They are both absolutely lovely, oozing proper hospitality from every pore.


Our old fellow Chowhound, Rajiv Joshi aka Howler (he’s the one with the black scarf) will be so pleased that you’ve finally had Parsi! I do miss him - must try and get him to come on Hungry Onion!

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Glad the meal delivered!

It’s interesting that they served many things that would be mains as starters, I guess they had to segregate the meal somehow.

Just out of curiosity, was the Farcha crisp or soft? When we had it at a Parsi dinner in NYC recently, the chef prepared it crisp as it would make more sense to the audience, but all the Farcha I’ve eaten in Bombay (a lot, it’s one of my favorite Parsi dishes) has a soft coating (egg and flour in several iterations, for a “lacey” outcome).

Hilarious. (This “innovation” of a tray really doesn’t do much for me vs an actual thali given that the dents are too shallow to hold much of anything vs the bowls in a thali… there’s an even worse flimsy plastic version that is almost guaranteed to bend while you’re serving yourself, ugh.)

Fascinating, I had no idea that kind of dhansak abomination existed :rofl:

We just used these yesterday - during breakfast at Woodlands in Penang’s Little India. Our Tamil vegetarian breakfast sets came with idli, upuma, tosai, vadai, and poori, with chutney, kara-chutney, paruppu and potato masala.


Yeah the same ones exist at udipis in nyc and elsewhere, but if they’re being nice only the chutneys come in the shallow dents, the sambar will be on a separate bowl.

Here’s one of our everyday home thalis, and a fully loaded one off the Internet (that’s a restaurant one, a home one is rarely if ever that full).


So much to reply to.

  1. I miss Howler’s insight into pretty much everything food related. I think it was probably him who recommended Cafe Spice Namaste to me

  2. I suspect that the mainly Bangladeshi owners/chefs in British “Indian” restaurants have no idea what a dhansak should be. And, even if they do, then they’ve Anglicised it to simply be a sweetish dish. An abomination as you say

  3. I also prefer the flat tray with dishes to the compartmentalised tray. The local vegetarian Gujarati place does their thali exactly like Saregama’s last photo

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This is the recipe for chicken dhansak, shared by Esther Marfartia in The Parsis of Singapore.

The composition of the spice mix used in the recipe:


We were back last night for B2M’s Maharashtrian tasting menu.

Peter - if you’re still in touch with Howler, please tell him I really enjoyed it (I’m pretty sure that he’s originally from that province).

Probably up next for May & June, menus from Rajasthan and Kolkota. Can’t wait!


That tasting menu looked really awesome. I’ll make sure I update Howler if/when I see him next - we’d not been in touch since the COVID lockdowns started back in Mar 2020. Am planning to be in London this fall, so hope to catch up with the old Chowhounds.

Yes, Howler was from Mumbai, Maharashtra.

Good to know the memory cells are still working. I remember he organised a Chowhound Maharashtrian meal at a restaurant. One of those times when I intended to go but travelling to London proved not to be possible that day.

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Menu sounds delicious and varied across the region — what were your favorites?

(I continue to be intrigued by how they choose appetizers and thali items: snacky things make sense, but then they move what would be mains to apps maybe to diversify the app selection?)

It was a Parsi dinner at the Bombay Brasserie. Howler talked to the manager weeks before and convinced the latter to procure mutton to cook dhansak, as Howler felt “lamb won’t do”. :grin:

That makes sense now. I’m sure it was Howler who mentioned Cafe Spice Namaste to me and I recall I knew I was having dhansak when I went

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I think they’ve settled into a style for these menus. Soup first, a couple of snacky things, fish and then on to the thali where they have chicken, lamb and a veggie curry. I’ve put my suggestion in for lal maas when they do the Rajasthan menu.

As for a favourite, I liked the kanda poha but we both thought the black peas in the thali was the best thing we ate (winning on both texture & flavour). At the end, the owner, Sandeep, came over and asked what we’d liked best. Told him the beans. Five minutes later, he’s back with a takeaway carton of it, bread, rice and a portion of dessert. Lovely bit of hospitality. And it made for a thoroughly good lunch today.


Last night’s “Taste of Goa” menu, which we missed first time they had it on.


How was it? What did you like?

It was perhaps the most interesting of the menus they’ve done because you could sense the Portuguese influence - dishes generally used less spice. I think my favourite dish was the Chicken Cafreal. Funnily enough, neither of the owners (one Indian, the other Iranian) said they were particularly keen on this one. The flavours were very authentic and home style, as the head chef is from Goa.

The Bebinca was lovely and, apparently, takes a lot of time to prepare. I looked at several recipes this morning and I can’t work out how they get the different coloured layers. None of the recipes mentioned dividing the batter and colouring one of them somehow to make it darker. The head chef said it was too much work to do profitably but, one of the other chefs, also from Goa, said his wife made it at home and he’d get her ot do it. Hence the menu noting its Alminda’s.


You grill each layer of the cake, instead of baking it.

We have layer cakes here in Singapore and Indonesia which are made using the same technique as for the bebinca - we’d ladle the batter onto the cake tin and grill that layer. It takes just 3-5 minutes for the thin layer of batter to cook. You then ladle on the next layer and put it back under the grill. As each layer takes about 5 minutes to cook, a 10 layer cake would take under an hour - it’ll just be a bit more labour-intensive, as you need to carefully remove the hot cake tin from the oven each time.

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