Parsees, in case you are not quite up to speed on them,are most famous for the Dhansak curry.They were originally from Persia, which is now Iran.They base their beliefs on the teachings of Zoroaster, aka Zarathustra, the monotheistic divine who flourished in around 1,000BC.Many of the Parsees later shifted to Bombay and acquired culinary styles of Maharashtra and Goa.Later still Parsee cuisine opened itself to the coconut and kokum influences of the Goans and Portuguese. Within a few years this cuisine acquired western styles of cooking, like most of the other Indian cuisines.
Parsee cuisine is shaped by its history. This culinary binding between Ancient Persia and Gujarat was an accident of fate. Persians came to India and brought along with them their unique recipes and culinary skills, forming a delicious blend of Indian flavours and Persian technique.This unusual historical background gives Parsee food a unique flavour. Today, the cuisine is a rich combination of Indian cooking methods and those of many other parts of the world.
Green Parsee curry
This is a Parsee speciality and represents the simple style much adapted to this cuisine.
Originally a side dish or vegetarian dish I took the preparation further and and made it a full blown curry. This is my basic vegetarian recipe but, you can also make it with mutton (account for longer cooking times) chicken,prawns or a robust fish like hake or grouper.
For the curry base
2 tbsp sunflower oil
1/2 tsp mustard seeds
8-10 curry leaves (fresh or dried)
2-3 green chillies (cut into three pieces each)
1 level tsp cumin seeds
1/4 tsp asfoetida
2 medium onions,( thinly sliced )
750g potatoes,(peeled and diced)
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp chilli flakes
1tsp ground coriander
1tsp ground cumin
200g fine french beans, chopped
1/2 tsp lime juice
1 tbsp fresh coriander (chopped)
salt and pepper to taste
For the curry
100g runner beans or french beans pre-cooked divided cross ways into segments
4 green chillies cut into shreds
Cooked chicken breast,prawns,mutton or fish (all optional)
Heat the oil in a heavy bottomed medium sized pan until it forms a haze.
Add the mustard seeds and let them crackle.Add the curry leaves and the green chillies and sizzle for a couple of minutes.Add the cumin seeds and as they change colour add the asfoetida and almost immediately the onions. Once the onions are soft add the potatoes and sauté for a couple of minutes.In a cup or a small bowl blend the powdered spices with alittle water to form asmooth thin paste.Add this paste to the pan and mix i slowly.The reason for mixing the spices is to prevent them from burning and spoiling the taste, a tip I recently learnt from chef Cyrus Todiwala on the TV.It also helps in De-glazing the bottom of the pan.Add salt and just enough water to cover the potatoes.Clean the edges of the pan with a spatula and cook the potatoes covered with a tight fitting lid.The water can be just below the line of the potatoes to cook and get almost dry as well.Reduce the heat and stir from time to time.Once the potatoes are cooked and the liquid thickens add the beans and cook for another couple of minutes.Check the seasoning again with the addition of the lime juice,blend in the chopped coriander and remove from the heat.Allow to cool
slightly the blitz in a processor.The resulting mixture will be on the thick side so you will need to thin it to your desired consistency with a suitable stock, some coconut milk or Greek yoghurt.Return to the pan and add the green beans chilli and meat or fish if using.Heat though until everything is cooked.