Friday, 21 March 2014

Navroz Mubarak 2014

Happy Persian New Year (Nowruz)!
Nowruz, or "new day" in Persian, is an ancient festival that marks the beginning of spring and celebrates the rebirth of nature.

The Iranis celebrate Navroz in a special way. A circular table or the dining table dons an exquisite new look. A special table cloth known as ‘sofreh’ is spread on the table which sets in the festive spirit. 

The whole decorated table known as ‘Haftashin’ is a feast for the eyes and delight to the senses and the soul.

Navroz ushers in the message of gratitude, joy, hope renewal, spiritual rejuvenation and renewed resolutions, new life in the natural cycles, growth, prosperity, inner awakening and of course the triumph of the good over evil for all humanity.

A day of universal dawn: a dawn of a new awakening.

The joyous advent of spring and its traditions, customs and rituals are not only observed by the Parsi-Irani community in India and the Muslim community in Iran but is quite widespread throughout the globe, observed by several Nations of the world.

The table in each home varies in its contents and the availability of items.

All the 7 items start with the leter ‘s’ or ‘sh’ in the Persian dialect having its own special significance. 

The number 7 represents the 7 creations of Dadar Ahura Mazda as also signifies the ‘Seventh Heaven’ or the state of perfect happiness or heavenly bliss in Islamic belief.

The seven items represent
‘sib’ or red apples, Nature’s most wholesome fruit 
‘sirka’ or vinegar if wine or ‘sharab’ is not available
‘shir’ or milk with its pristine sanctity as milk is the first sip a new born sucks as it enters the world
a plate of ‘shakker’ or sugar to make your whole year as sweet as sugar,
‘shama’, a candle to light up your life but today a ‘shem’ or a diya is kept on the table besides Prophet Zarathushtra’s photo with a book of Avesta prayers,
‘sir’ or garlic, nature’s most trusted anti-biotic , 
‘sikkeh’ or coins to usher in wealth and prosperity ,
‘sonbol’ known as hyacinth, a plant grown from a bulb with heads of pink, white or blue flowers and if that is not available then a pomegranate surrounded with 5 or 7 roses or a Vase adorned with fresh scented roses – all reminding us to remain fresh and colourful and spread the scent of success and family happiness to all around us,
‘sabzi’ fresh green vegetables or shoots of wheat grass signifying robust evergreen health throughout the year,
‘sirbenj’ a traditional Irani sweet dish more like our rice-kheer or simply sev-dahi or ‘ravo’ as is the custom on all auspicious occasions.

Grains are also kept in a plate to usher in the spirit of harvest and abundance.

‘Sheesha’ or a mirror is placed in such a way to reflect Prophet Zarathushtra’s photo as well as the pomegranate. Some even keep a bowl of gold fish.

It is also believed that if you look into the mirror which has already reflected Navroz and make a wish, you will have good vibrations and reflections throughout the year.

Excerpts from the Afternoon Dispatch & Courier
By Dr. Shernaz Baji Avari

Tomato and garlic chutney recipe


Hello! I thought of sharing this very simple recipe......I love garlic in all its glorious forms .
This chutney is very potent and only for garlic and chilli lovers!

A small amount goes a long way ....its awesome with yellow daal and chawaal !

I hope you try it!

Tamatar and Lassan Chutney

2 red juicy tomatoes cut into 4's
10-12 cloves of garlic
a pinch of cumin seeds
2 teaspoons refined oil
1/4 teaspoon kashmiri red chilli powder
Salt to taste

Grind the tomatoes and garlic to a fine puree without using any water.

Heat oil in a Kadhai/wok and add cumin seeds. Once they splutter add the kashmiri red chilli powder, now very quickly tip in the tomato + garlic puree.

Watch out it may make you cough and sneeze :))

Cook the chutney for another 5 minutes till oil separates and raw flavor of garlic n tomato goes away.

You can double the recipe and store in the refrigerator !

Saturday, 1 March 2014

Punes best Pani Puri

I love street food and I especially love Gol gappe / Pani Puri / Puchka so it comes as no surprise then that I am a little fussy about my favourite street food!

I like the outer shell of the pani puri to be perfectly "khasta" (crisp)....I only like suji ke gol gappe and not the atta ke gol gappe!

punes best street food
 I like the water to be at the perfect temperature , not too cold but still a little cold. The paani must also be  the right blend of minty freshness and tangy khattapan (sourness) from the Imli .

 And Om Jai Shankar hits all the right notes ! After eating pani puri at so many places in Pune over the last 22 years this is just the best! Its not a recent discovery I have been eating here for the last 20 years almost.
punes best paani puri
 It remians consistent and excellent what I also love is despite the popularity of this place you will very often find the owner behind the counter mixing his magical mix!

What started as a humble Chaat thela or handcart opposite the Pune Railway station by a sindhi gentleman by the name of Mr Motiram Devnani is today Om Jai Shankar Pani Puri in BabaJaan Chowk , MG road!

Mr Devnani sold his chaat business to Sanjay Yande and he has been running the business for the last 40 years with the help of his son Sachin!

poona best paani puri

They do catering as well and the whos who of Pune have eaten their Paani Puri. Ofcourse they have other things on the menu which are nice as well but ofcourse its the Paani Puri that is phenomenal and pulls in the crowds!

poona paani puri best
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 Do visit if you are in the area . Open everyday 12 noon onwards up until 10.30 PM.

mg road pune street food