Today was the first day of our Return to Roots trip and while there was a film screening – we saw the Qissa-e-Parsi, a must watch if I do say so myself – and a few prayers, the highlight was definitely the food!
Our host for the day was the lovely Dhun Bagli who manages the Parsi Dharamshala and Dar-e-Mehr in Delhi. Dressed in an embroidered lilac sari adorned with her hair well coiffed, Dhun Aunty reminded me of my grandmothers generation – the one that took their time dressing up and taking care of themselves.
Impatient with all the children who were busy talking, Dhun Aunty started our meal by banging her fork on a Thali and inviting us to Jamva Chaloji. And, while I enjoyed her meal of Parsi curry rice, what blew me away was her Chutney Eeda Pattice and her story of how she fell in love with her beau and now late husband Darayus Bagli.
With a few of us gathered at her knee, she recounted how she first met Darayus when she came to Delhi as a secretary for the International Planned Parenthood Conference. At that time, the Dharamshala only had 12 rooms and given they were late for their booking Darayus told her group that he has reassigned their rooms and they’d have to find alternate accommodation. It was only when Dhun Aunty’s Irani friend confronted him that he relented and gave them a room. However, he was soon besotted with Dhun and seduced her by sending them delicious food cooked at the Dharamshala to their conference on and off for two months.
They fell in love and it was decided that Dhun would return to Mumbai and stay for six months before they got married. However, Darayus was too impatient and followed her to Mumbai a week later. He convinced Dhun’s parents to wed them right away and in 1958 Dhun Aunty came to Delhi as Mrs. Bagli and started helping him with the Dharamshala. She took up the reins once he passed away and now the Dharamshala has 44 rooms, provides catering to several of Delhi’s well-heeled Parsis and also dishes out Navjote and Wedding meals.
Despite this growth, Dhun Aunty swears by her cook who’s been loyally cooking Dhansak for her since 1972! She shared her recipe for Chutney Eeda Pattice only after she extracted a promise from me that I must visit her and the Dharamshala again within the year! And, while its a pretty standard one watch out for her secret ingredient in the chutney – Ingredients at the bottom as always.
First make the green chutney using the standard recipe. Dhun Aunty’s trick? Add half a raw mango to the chutney to up the sour ante!
Once that’s done, boil the potatoes and mash them finely adding in some butter, salt and pepper. At the same time, boil the eggs and chop into halves. Divide the potato in small round balls – you want double the quantity. So, to make 6 Pattice you need 12 balls. Take two balls and slowly form into a cup shape using the palm of your hand. Take one cup and stuff it with a tsp of the chutney and half a boiled egg. Top this with the other cup and gently seal them together.
Coat with semolina (especially around the edges) and dunk into whisked raw egg before deep frying it. Dhun Aunty feels that if you’d like to give the impression that your pattice are healthier then you can coat them in egg first and then in semolina and that will give them a crispier covering.
Serve hot wrapped in a chappati or as an accompaniment to curry rice like we did. And, as you bite into it, take a moment to think of Dhun Aunty and her lovely Dharamshala love story.
To make 6 pattice you will need
For the Chutney
All the ingredients stated here
1/2 raw mango chopped
For the Pattice
5 medium boiled potatoes
2 tbsp butter
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
3 boiled eggs
Semolina for coating
2 raw eggs for coating
Oil for deep frying