The western shores of India played an important role in introducing the Parsi community to India and an even bigger role in developing the delicious cuisine they brought with them.
The Parsis were originally from Persia, leaving the country sometime in the 8th century to settle on Indian shores. Bringing with them the recipes, ingredients and cooking techniques of their home country, the Parsi people blended their traditional culinary culture with the new flavours and cooking methods they found in this strange new world. The result is a unique cuisine that brings clever spicing together with sweet yet tangy flavours. However, despite the rich meat dishes and innovative vegetarian delights, Parsi cuisine isn’t all about the savoury. The sweets are rather good too.
In fact, Parsi desserts are notorious throughout India – no Parsi festival or celebratory occasion would be complete without a tasty range of traditional sweets on display. Here are some of the most mouth-watering:
Here in the UK, kulfi is often considered to be the king of Indian desserts. This creamy, dense Indian ice-cream is a staple on many Indian restaurant menus, however, the flavours available in India far surpass the flavours you might find at your local curry house. Creative kulfi vendors offer respite from the sometimes sweltering heat of the sub-continent with flavours such as mango, blueberry and raspberry. However, unusual flavours such as rose, saffron, jackfruit and avocado are also common and hugely popular. The Parsi version of kulfi is particularly interesting as, instead of the common technique of freezing the dessert in a mould so it can be consumed on a stick, it is made to resemble a large disc, almost like a kulfi cake. This is then cut into slices and often garnished with chopped almonds, pistachios and cardamom.
- Almond TilChikki
If kulfi is the Indian version of ice-cream, Almond TilChikki is the sub-continent’s equivalent of brittle. A crunchy sweet made from melted jaggery or brown sugar, almonds, sesame seeds and a generous helping of ghee.
If you’re looking to satisfy your sweet tooth but are short on time, try ambakalya, a Parsi dessert that requires just a trio of ingredients to create. Juicy mangoes are sweetened with jaggery and flavoured with cinnamon to make this tasty treat.
Adding a touch of savoury to a sweet dish in a way that shouldn’t work but does, ParsiSev incorporates strands of fried vermicelli, soaked in milk, sugar, ghee and vanilla with the addition of cardamom and nutmeg amongst other warming dessert spices to create an irresistible mix of crunchy sev and smooth, milky sauce.
Finding home-made Indian desserts here in the UK is no easy matter – many Anglicised restaurants simply purchase ready-made, frozen sweets to save on time. However, the creative cooks at London’s best Indian fine dining restaurants make it their business to prepare a dessert menu that brings together the traditional flavours of Indian with cutting edge, contemporary cuisine. For a unique culinary experience like no other, book a table today – just remember to save room for a little something sweet.