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The Exotic Flavors of Parsi Cuisine

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1 The Exotic Flavors of Parsi Cuisine
Parsi Cuisine has gained favor in India over the years, and has also attracted followers of ethnic food in the west. Cookbooks displayed are: Recipes: The Time And Talents Club Annual Cookbook. Often an heirloom passed from Mother to daughter, and often gifted to new daughters in law. No Parsi home is without a copy of this well loved cookbook, which includes international recipes and well-loved favorites such as ‘Patra ni machi’ (fish in banana leaf) and ‘malido’ (a sweet semolina dessert). Bhikoo Manekshaw’s Parsi Food and Customs mixes and wise philosophy and cozy advice with delicious recipes for easy home cooked parsi meals. Two versatile Pennsylvanian Parsee ladies Nergesh Unwala and Nergesh Karanjia are authors of An adventure in Exotic Parsi Indian Cooking, a delightful set of recipes for the busy home. Picture,

2 The Parsi Home and love of the Arts
Crafts and Home-décor: Traditional home décor combined simplicity, elegance in a number of exquisitely hand-crafted utilitarian and decorative objects. On display are some examples: Four classic Torans: Torans or bead garlands are still used in traditional homes to decorate the door-frame of family rooms and bring good luck Embroidered tablecloths: Parsee women created lovely hand embroidered linens for use in their homes Parsees love crystal and delight in surrounding themselves with objects of beauty. The Jehangir Art Gallery in Bombay (funded by Sir Cowasji Jehangir) is a testament to such a lifelong passion for art and has been open to the public for half a century. Photo Credits: Silver fruit-bowl: Detailed and intricately wrought silver-work was always preferred by Parsees. In fact, parsees are known to have a fondness for silver and crystal in their homes. Glass-beaded water-glass cover: Many Parsees will recognize this item from their grandparent’s time. Such covers were used to keep away flies. The glass beads produced a delightful tinkle when removed or replaced. This sound may be the first childhood memory for many Parsees.

3 Customs and Traditions
Deevo- Agarbati: Prayers and devotions in the home: Display Articles: A small afarganyu (container for creating a small devotional fire, deevo (simple floating wick oil candle), agarbatti (incense sticks), sukhar (sandalwood), loban (frankinsense), tacha (sandalwood shavings), Prayer books are often used when Zoroastrians pray in their homes. The guiding theme of simplicity dictates that objects be relatively unadorned to focus on the true experience of prayer. Electric lamps are also frequently used.  The Jashan Ceremony is performed by a priest or Dastoor to bless the home of a Zoroastrian family. Chalk porvanu: A Traditional art: Using small metal containers filled with powdered chalk, beautiful designs are stamped upon the doorstep of traditional Zoroastrian home each morning. Elaborate and complex designs are also created with combinations of chalk-holders or ‘stamps’ for auspicious occasions, festivals, birthdays and family events.

4 1.     Sudhreh and Kushti: Religious Vestments (clothing)
Sudhreh (or Sadra) is the sacred Shirt and Kushti (or Kusti) is the Sacred Thread worn by Zarathostis after their Navjote (Initiation into the Zoroastrian Faith).  Men usually wear a Sudreh with small sleeves, while women’s sudreh is smaller and cut into straps over the shoulder for ease of use under both eastern and western clothing styles.  Each morning a Zoroastrian bathes, dons a fresh sudhreh and then prays a daily prayer, during which he reties the sacred thread. The centerpiece of his daily devotion is “Jasa Me Avenghe Mazda” a prayer where he reaffirms his faith as an active follower of the Zoroastrian Religion. Traditional Clothing Traditional Head-gear Topis are worn by children and men while in prayer or in the Fire-temple. Scarves are favored by women, as they can take a variety of colors and patterns. An alternative to wearing a scarf or topi, is to use the ‘sohr’ of the saree (drawn over the head) during religious events. Traditional Parsee women frequently wore “maathu-banu” or a scarf under their saree or in the home. This practice declined around the turn of the century (1900s), but some elderly Parsee women still preserve this tradition. Traditional hats such as Pheta or Pagri are still worn by Parsi men on important occasions, but these are no longer produced commercially, and are therefore valuable heirlooms.

5 Parsi Ladies adopted the Sari – and made it their own:
1.     Traditional Garments: Garo, Kor and Teeli Sarees Ladies have always admired traditional Parsee Sarees for their exquisite embroidery. Examples displayed are: ·       Garo (A dark silk saree with white embroidery which is often a family heirloom passed from mother to daughter) ·       Kor-Sari and Kasab (silver)-kor sarees (A richly embroidered border, often created by hand, which is attached over the entire length of the saree. These are also heirlooms and no longer available commercially) Teeli-saree (A sequined lace sari, usually in pastel colors but often in jewel tones as well.)

6 Lagan ni Jori: Bridal Clothing
Bride: Displayed in large khumcha with garland of white tube-roses and red roses ·        The Zoroastrian bride usually wears a white lace saree, hand embroidered with delicate sequin-work or silver thread. ·        The saree blouse may be plain white satin or embroidered, and a variety of modern styles may be chosen. ·        A white satin petticoat is worn under the lace saree. ·        A white lace sudreh is worn under the blouse, and over the waist of the saree to display the delicate lace work. ·        New white shoes match the rest of the ensemble. ·        An heirloom piece of jewelry or a new set is often purchased for the occasion, or presented by the grooms family. ·        A garland of white tube-roses and fragrant red roses are placed around the bride’s neck as the wedding ceremony begins. ·        A red wool shawl is placed in the shesh, but is rarely used in practice these days. Groom ·        The Groom wears a white traditional ‘dugli’ or outer jacket which is fastened at the neck and side with small bows or white cloth fastenings. ·        A new white shirt and pair of trousers accompany the formal dugli. ·        An heirloom pair of cuff-links or a new watch is usually presented by the bride’s family. It is likely that this is a tradition from an era when a time-piece was a rarity and therefore an auspicious gift. ·        The black pheta or pugri gives the groom a distinguished and mature appearance. For many Zoroastrian men, their wedding is the only occasion when they wear a pheta or pugri. Others wear it on important festivals and family occasions as well. ·        The groom is also welcomed into the wedding ceremony with a garland of white tube-roses and red roses.

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