The Bohri community is known for its scrumptious cuisine. A little boutique outlet set in Colaba Mumbai, known as The Bohri Kitchen, is bringing alive the well preserved culinary traditions of the Bohri community. Started by the mother-son duo of Nafisa and Munaf Kapadia, the duo's idea to serve friends Bohri food has come a long way. Their home dinning experience is almost always sold-out and this time, they have a special menu to celebrate Eid. Here's more about the traditional Bohri way of dining.
Traditionally, the Bohris eat from a big thaal (a large steel plate) which is elevated with a tarakti (stand) placed on a square piece of cloth called a safra, laid out on the floor. Eight members of the family can eat from the thaal, and because this is a family affair, the meal can only begin after all are seated and ready for the meal. The custom to eat with the right hand also stands, and it is taboo to eat with the left.
Every Bohri meal begins with the offering of salt. One person takes salt from the traditional Namak Daan and passes it on to the next person. The salt offering is made for it's antibacterial properties and to symbolise the union of the family at the beginning of the meal. Another important tradition is eating ‘sodanna’ (cooked rice sprinkled with sugar and ghee) to start the meal on special occasions like Eid. After the sodanna and salt partaking, the courses alternate between sweet and savoury, starting with the traditional sheer khurma on Eid.
Sheer khurma, literally translated as milk with dates, is another popular Bohri dessert. This is also the dish you will be welcomed with at The Bohri Kitchen. Sheer khurma was traditionally sweetened with dates alone (instead of sugar) and vermicelli and dry fruits were added to it. Since dates have been synonymous with Eid since time immemorial, sheer khurma is a must in every household on this religious occasion. It is served on the morning of Eid and served throughout the day to visiting guests.
There are many other traditional Bohri dishes like the 'dal chawal palida' which is generally made to celebrate a birthday in the family. With all the talk about delicious food, here is the recipe of this simple yet delicious dish that you can try at home, courtesy The Bohri Kitchen's Nafisa Kapadia.
Dal Chawal Palida
200 gms tur dal (preferably oil coated - telwali)
1 tbs methi dana
1 tbsp jeera
2tbsp garlic chopped finely
2 tbsp chana atta (besan)
1 onion chopped
3 to 4 tomatoes chopped finely
2 to 3 kokum
4 drumsticks peeled and cut into 3-inch pieces
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1 tbsp red chilly powder
salt to taste
For dal chawal:
The left over dal from the palida
400 gms basmati rice soaked for 2 hours
2tbsp garlic chopped
3 onions sliced
1 small stick cinnamon
2/3 cloves (lavang)
2 tbsp jeera
1 capsicum sliced
2 to 3 tbsp pure ghee
For the palida: In a big pan, cook the dal with 5 cups of water, salt and turmeric. The dal should not be overcooked, it should remain whole. Strain the dal and keep the water.
Now in another pan take 2 tbsp oil add garlic, saute till golden brown, then add the methi, jeera red chilly powder, turmeric and besan. Stir for some time till you get the smell of roasted besan. Now add the onions and tomatoes. Pour in the water of the dal slowly, stirring continuously, so that no lumps form. Add the kokum, drumsticks and let the palida cook on slow flame till the drumsticks are cooked. Garnish with chopped fresh coriander.
For the dal-chawal: Boil water in a large pan. After the water starts boiling, add the soaked basmati rice. Add salt and juice of one lime (put extra salt, because there is excess water which will be drained). After 2 to 3 boils, when the rice is half cooked drain out the rice in a strainer. Pour some cold water on the rice, to stop its cooking process.
In another pan take pure ghee, and heat it. Add garlic and stir till golden brown, add jeera, cloves and cinnamon. Then add the onions and fry till golden brown. Add the capsicum and cook for 2 minutes, and then add the dal.
Now in a flat bottom pan, put a layer of basmati rice, followed by a layer of dal, and rice again. Garnish with fried onions. Pour another 2 spoons of ghee over it. Simmer it for 20 minutes on a tawa.
Serve with fried papads, baigan ka bharta and pickles.
Also on Firstpost: Iftaar delicacies at Mumbai's famed Mohammed Ali Road, by our photographer Sachin Gokhale