Mawa Ni Boi: The Navroz Specialty Dessert For Good Luck
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As with so many cultures, New Year or Navroz in the Parsi community is full of refreshment, renewal and celebration. Mornings are a wild rush as the whole family scrambles to shower away the old year, dress in new clothes and (for the more religiously oriented) head off to the fire temple. Once the customary prayers of the day are done and all the rites and traditions are taken care of, that’s when thoughts turn to the most important part of the day – celebrating with lots of food and drink

Navroz can be a confusing concept to people the first time around because technically, there are two of them. The Shehenshahi Parsis follow a calendar similar to the Iranians in Persia and celebrate the festival in March of every year, while the Kadmi Parsis who make up the majority of the Indian population celebrate it in August. Another common confusion is the term ‘Pateti’, which actually refers to the day before Navroz when families mourn the ‘death’ of the old year. As such, wishing someone a ‘Happy Pateti’ is actually akin to wishing them a happy deathday and not really all that festive. 

One highlight for Parsis, no matter when they celebrate is making and sharing the Mawa Ni Boi. A sweet dish made out of mawa (or khoya as it's also known), shaped like a fish and then gilded in silver leaf. Mawa is usually made from sweetened dried whole milk or milk thickened over heat until it forms a dough-like consistency. It’s then kneaded with essences, nuts or dry fruits and shaped into sweets. It’s commonly used in many Indian sweets, but the fish-shaped Mava Ni Boi is a very typically Parsi affair. The fish symbolises life, fertility and good luck and is often seen stamped in chalk outside Parsi homes and temples during special occasions. 

Each family has their own tradition for their Boi, with some making it at home or others favouring places like Parsi Dairy Farm or other local milk parlours to procure their stash on the eve of Navroz. But this sparkling treat is always lurking on tables at every happy occasion and any party is incomplete without a Mawa Ni Boi on the guest list.

Khoya, the base of every Mawa Ni Boi



    1.25 litres fresh full-fat whole milk

    300 grams of powdered sugar

    1 tsp cardamom powder

    5 to 6 drops decorating colour as desired

    ¼ cup crushed almonds, pistachios, mixed


    Pour the milk into a large thick bottomed pan and place the pan on the stovetop.

    Bring milk to a gentle boil first on a low to medium flame.

    Then lower the flame and simmer the milk. Stir at intervals whilst the milk is simmering.

    The milk will froth many times, while it's being simmered. So when you see this happening, with a spatula stir the milk.

    Scrape the milk solids from the sides and add them to the milk.

    The milk will continue to reduce and thicken as it is simmered on a low flame.

    Towards the end when the milk has reduced a lot, you will see bubbles bursting in the reduced milk. 

    At this point continuously stir to prevent the milk from burning.

    When all the bubbles have disappeared, you can remove the milk from the heat.

    With a spatula, scrape the milk solids from the sides and add these to the bowl. Cover the bowl and let it be at room temperature. 

    Add food colouring and essences at this stage if desired.

    Add sugar and ¾ of the nuts and mix well.

    Transfer to a work surface, sprinkle with some icing sugar and knead well.

    Sprinkle icing sugar inside the fish-shaped moulds.

    Sprinkling remaining nuts in moulds, distributing all equally.

    When the lump is soft and smooth, take enough lumps to press neatly into each

    Refrigerate for 2 hours, till well set.

    Before serving you can gently cover the fish in silver foil.