Recipe Contributed By: Yours Truly
Since the time I started Bawi Bride, every time someone finds out what I do, their eyes light up and they talk about precisely two things – Dhansak and Berry Pulao. While I wrote about the former early on and have likely so far served up almost 2000 litres of Dhansak, I stayed away from the ubiquitous Berry Pulao. In fact, until a month ago this dish didn’t even feature on our menu (Yes, Gasp!)
Search for a recipe of the Irani Berry Pulao on the internet and you will come up with countless articles of the famous Britannia. They are rumoured to be the ones who brought this Iranian dish to the notice of Mumbaikar’s when they put it on their menu more than 35 years ago. Apparently, such is the popularity of the dish that according to a Hindustan Times article a few years ago the owner, Boman Kohinoor has stated that “Even the American security forces won’t be able to decode the recipe”.
Now, while I have immense respect for what Mr. Kohinoor has done for Parsi food, I will be honest and state that nothing in the food world annoys me more than someone saying that their recipe is a ‘secret’.
All recipes are built on the foundation of another dish and by keeping a recipe secret you are doing it grave injustice. If you truly loved food, you would want people to enjoy what you made them even after you are not around. That means sharing the recipe. And, lets be honest, just because you can make your mom’s curry, does it mean you no longer like to have her version of it?
I know that caterers and food professionals globally may call me naive for saying this but I happily share all the recipes for the food I professionally make and it has never impacted me financially. If it does, I will be sure to come back here and admit I made a mistake.
For me, more than the recipe of the Berry Pulao, what was the bigger secret was where one could source the Zereshk Berries in Mumbai – Asiatic Stores in Crawford Market, Motilal Masala Stores if you pre-order with them and apparently also at the International Airport on Friday when the Iran Air plane lands (mind you, I haven’t tried the last option so if it work for you, please do let me know).
Anyways, many recipes you will find online will tell you that you can replace the Zereshk in the pulao with cranberries. In fact, this is what many restaurants serving the Pulao currently do to unsuspecting Berry Pulao lovers. In a pinch, you could indeed do this. But note that the Pulao will taste sweet and will be missing the sour tang of the Zereshk. Because, here’s the secret.
Without the berries, the Pulao is just a basic Parsi Pulao minus the potato and the egg and plus the fried onions. In fact, rumour has it that this Pulao originally came about because the inventor had some leftover mutton from a batch of of Sali Boti and some rice he didn’t know what to do with. So, he added in some kebabs and garnished it with these unique berries from Irani and voila, the Irani Berry Pulao was born. What genius!
So, if you’ve been hankering for some Berry Pulao, here is the recipe of how you can make it and all the details on where you can find the berries. Ofcourse, you can always order it from us as well – we are on Scootsy, Swiggy and Uber Eats for deliveries from Malabar Hill – Mahim and will deliver this deliciousness to you across Mumbai, if you notify me a day before!
This post is part of my ongoing series on the blog, the A to Z of Parsi Food which has been curated in collaboration with Parsi food enthusiasts globally. For more interesting recipes follow the hashtag #AtoZChallenge mentioned below.