This recipe is a part of a series of recipes that I will be posting as an accompaniment to my newly launched podcast, Not Just Dhansak. On the podcast I chat to friends, fellow Bawas and Parsi entrepreneurs about all things bhonu and the recipes in these series are a result of the chats I have with them on the show. Check out the podcast here.
One of the things I miss the most about Mumbai is the joy of digging into a creamy crispy Chicken Puff from PAC in GrantRoad. Ironically, I discovered these beauties when I got married and lived in Dadar instead of during my childhood in Tardeo & GrantRoad. Its good I discovered them late in life though because if I had known about them sooner, I might be another 15kg heavier than I already am.
For those of you that don’t know, PAC is short for the Parsi Amelioration Committee. They have a very tiny shop that’s right opposite Chikal Wadi Parsi Colony (or Bhatia Hospital for the non-Parsis) that has been around for decades and is usually manned by a couple of cute old Parsi Aunties or sometimes a grumpy Parsi uncle. PAC was originally started to give widowed Parsi ladies and women from poor income families an avenue to cook and sell their food.
The food they sell is nothing fancy. Just good, honest food that tastes amazing. Like my favourite Bawi food writer, Meher Mirza puts it – it’s food for the soul. Their popularity can be judged by the fact that you will usually find a mob of people standing outside their small kiosk from 11.30 when the food arrives right until about 2 or 3pm when they are completely sold out. My in-laws and the family love the puffs so much that we had an unsaid rule where if any family member was travelling town side, they had to compulsarily make a stop at Nana Chowk and pick up at least 18 puffs to last for the week. Same goes for my Dad who is an ardent fan of their Kheema Kebabs. And if you have money leftover after buying the puff and the kebabs, then you should certainly also indulge in some Chapat and also the Mithu Dahi.
To hear Meher and me rant about PAC you can also check out our podcast episode that we did together. I love the place so much that it’s the start of the food walks I used to host around Grant Road and I’ve introduced it to countless other Mumbaikars and also international guests visiting Mumbai. Across the board, the Chicken Puffs have been everyone’s favourite.
Now that we’ve settled into a routine here in NZ, it was about time I tried to replicate these treat I missed so much and this recipe is a version I’ve settled on after about three tries. You can ofcourse make it more creamy or cheesy if you like and for sure my version has more chicken in it than the ones at PAC. But hey, that’s the joy of making something at home, right?
I did make these with the ready puff pastry though if you wanted to make one big pie I’d recommend going with a shortcrust pastry instead. And, a final note is that you don’t have to make them as stand up puffs in silicon trays. You can just make the filling and make them as rectangular ones which are easy to bake and are a smaller size that’s perfect for parties.