Besides the lagan nu custard and mawa cakes that are most commonly associated with Parsi cuisine, a few lesser-known delicacies feature during special occasions, in the capacity of indulgent bites and snacks to munch on, when hungry.
In Parsi cuisine, sweets hold a special place – serving as integral parts of various occasions, celebrations and rituals within the community. Sweets are often offered as a sign of hospitality and goodwill, as visitors to a typical Parsi household are usually welcomed with a plate of assorted sweets. Often incorporating ingredients like nuts, coconut, dried fruits, cardamom, rose water and saffron, Parsi sweets are created to possess unique flavours and textures that reflect the rich culinary heritage of the culture.
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A traditional Parsi dessert from India, malido is a sweet dish made with a combination of cracked wheat, eggs, sugar, ghee, milk and is flavoured with cardamom or saffron. Prepared during religious ceremonies, the mixture is slow-cooked until thick and garnished with nuts like almonds or pistachios. This dairy-heavy delicacy has a rich, creamy texture and is often served on special occasions or festivals within the community.
Maan Ni Khari
This famous Parsi buttery biscuit that is loved for its flaky and tender texture, is a type of pastry made with butter, flour, salt and baking powder. The dough is first laminated with butter, folded multiple times over and rolled out to create thin layers, similar to the process used to make puff pastry. Once the layers are formed, dough is cut into rectangles or squares, and baked until golden-brown and puffy. Known for its light, buttery taste and delicate, flaky texture, this snack is a popular accompaniment to tea in Parsi households.
Dar Ni Pori
A sweet delicacy that originates from the Parsi community in India, this traditional pastry or pie, is filled with a mixture made from lentils, jaggery, ghee, dr fruits like almonds, and a smidge of cardamom or nutmeg. Enjoyed for breakfast during Parsi festivals and special occasions, the dar ni pori is known for its sweet and decadent flavours. Imagine a slightly thicker version of the puran poli but with a crisp outer layer, the dar ni pori is a baked variation of the popular flatbread.
Khaman Na Ladoo
A special sweet delicacy that is prepared to mark the first steps of a child – called the pug ladoo ceremony – the khaman na ladoo is a rich, mawa-based preparation of a rice flour cover stuffed with sweetened coconut. Used in the traditional ritual where babies are meant to step on these sweets and crush them with their feet, the ‘ladoo’ is a permanent fixture in the heritage cuisine of the community.
Oundh or audh, as it is also known, is a cake-like mass made with rice flour, coconut milk and sugar. Studded with almonds and preserved fruit, this dessert delicacy has a fudge-like consistency with a wobbly texture. Sprinkled with rose water and nutmeg for an additional aroma and flavour, the oundh is usually served during special occasions, like most other sugary treats within the cuisine.
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Similar to the sheera, the Parsi spin on the ravo or semolina pudding involves cooking the rava in milk and ghee, garnishing it with lots of dry fruits and preparing it to reach a grainy consistency. Eaten for just about all kinds of special occasions, the ravo is synonymous with comfort eating in the community – and changes in recipe based on person to person. While some say that the ravo is more like kheer, some also believe that this sweet delicacy is a semi-solid pudding.