Friday, March 22, 2013

Happy New Year!

Berkeley, March 21, 2013—
PARSI NEW YEAR, that is, which has been celebrated at Chez Panisse for many years now, the gift of Niloufer Ichaporia, who was born in the Parsi community of what was once Bombay. Niloufer is a woman of many parts, and a fabulous cook. I use the word almost literally: her cuisine, and her execution of it, evoke a quality of fable: things made, and made up, and pertaining to the worlds of imagination and, especially, held in awe by those who know it.

It is also, however, down to earth, and extraordinarily sensual. Colors, scents, textures, and flavors, many unfamiliar to those of us generally dining on Occidental fare, combine in hearty and immediate dishes that satisfy both immediately and in the long afterglow of dinner.

(Niloufer has presented a number of recipes in a fine and beautiful book, My Bombay Kitchen (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2007; ISBN 9780520249608).

Well, this year, of course, Parsi New Year was not celebrated at Chez Panisse, whose reconstruction is likely to take a couple of months. Instead it was held in a private Berkeley home, where it was prepared under Niloufer's guidance (and very much with her hands-on participation) by cooks from the restaurant, for a number of members of the extended Panisse family. And here is what we had:
Pickles, cashews, papadas
Drumsticks for the Lucky
Prawns Kayabs
Bhajjias and Chutney
Crab salad
Braised kid
Mushroom biryana raita
Greens and salads
Falooda, Jalibis, and more…

It was a feast celebrating the New Year, the first day of Spring, the end of Winter. Regeneration; reawakening. A fine omen for the beginning of reconstruction at Chez Panisse.
Red, from Corsica

No comments: