Sali Jardaloo ma Marghi is a celebratory Parsi dish. Photo: Rhea Dalal
Navroze Mubarak! That’s “Happy New Year” in Persian and how Parsis greet each other on their New Year day. Like every other community, the Parsis celebrate it with loads of good food, and on Navroze, the menu is always a little extra special. The new year signifies new beginnings and there is optimism and hope in the air – new plans, new resolutions, and the urge to do better in the brand new year.
Just like Navroze is all about the future, Pateti is about the past. It’s the last day of the year and a day on which Parsis reflect on the year that has gone by – the good deeds and the not-so good deeds of the year are contemplated, stock is taken and forgiveness is sought. One also thinks of ways to make the approaching new year a better one. It’s a sombre day of self-analysis and reflection, but not a sad or inauspicious day at all. It is more observed than celebrated so don’t go around wishing your Parsi friends “Happy Pateti”.
However, that doesn’t mean there isn’t special food on the menu! Special festive dishes are cooked on both Pateti and Navroze. In effect, Pateti is the New Year’s eve and Navroze is New Year’s day, and a visit to the Agiary followed by a good lunch is pretty standard for both days.
One dish that is quite likely to be cooked on either day is Sali Jardaloo ma Marghi (chicken cooked with apricots, served with straw potatoes). In the olden days, it was more likely to be Sali Jardaloo ma Gos (made with mutton), but these days we’re health conscious, and most of us prefer to eat chicken. So, here’s my recipe for Sali Jardaloo ma Marghi, taught to me by my mother-in-law.
Recipe for Sali Jardaloo ma Marghi
4 full chicken legs cut into drumsticks and thighs
1 tbsp ginger-garlic paste
3 large onions, finely chopped
3 large tomatoes, chopped and pureed
1 or 2 fresh green chillies, deseeded
12-15 dried apricots/jardaloo
¼ cup vinegar
2 tbsp sugar
1 1/2 tbsp garam masala
1 tsp chilli powder
½ tsp turmeric powder
½ tsp pepper powder
Fresh coriander for garnish
Sali or straw potatoes, for garnish
Oil for cooking
1. Wash chicken and marinate in salt, pepper, ginger and garlic.
2. Soak apricots in a cup of hot water with the sugar and vinegar.
3. Heat oil and fry onions till brown.
4. Add all spices and mix.
5. Add tomato puree and the slit green chillies, cook on low heat till oil separates.
6. Add chicken and soaked apricots (drained) reserving a few for garnish and stir gently to coat with the spices.
7. Add a cup of warm water and cook covered for 20 minutes.
8. Adjust salt.
9. Garnish with fresh coriander, the reserved apricots and some Sali.
10. Serve hot with rotis or bread and lots of Sali on the side.
Rhea is a trained archaeologist, but has hung up her trowel. At present, she is a food blogger who writes and edits content on a freelance basis. She enjoys cooking, exploring cuisines and ingredients, and their histories. She shares her experiences on her blog euphoRHEA. She also dabbles in amateur photography, paints on ceramics, and organises occasional food or history-based events in Mumbai and Navi Mumbai. She moderates the biggest Facebook food group, Chef at Large, and runs The Porkaholics (only for pork lovers) and Foodies in Navi Mumbai (focused on the growing food scene in Navi Mumbai).