Traditional Parsi Salli Boti (Meat with Potato Sticks)

Traditional Parsi Salli Boti - meat with potato sticks

Like the infamous Dhansak, the Salli Boti is another acclaimed Parsi dish. You will find it everywhere – be it a happy occasion or sad – because mutton is a staple in any Parsi’s diet. From a menu planning perspective, the Salli Boti is superbly versatile and is not only a great side accompaniment with a Dhandar or a Berry Pulao but also great served just by itself with salli (potato sticks) galore.

Recently, I have been getting a lot of requests for vegetarian Parsi food and while I try my best to wrack my brains for vegetarian alternatives, I frequently find myself at a loss as the idea of no meat in our food generally leaves us shivering in our boots. The other day someone requested that I make them a 7 course vegetarian and eggless Parsi menu. The whole experience left me so traumatised that I decided to meditate and calm down – by making some Salli Boti instead!

While Salli Boti is a fairly common find for those that stay in Mumbai and are blessed to be invited to dozens of Parsi functions every season, it is more of a specialty for those that stay overseas. This is NOT because the dish is hard to make. But, because of the severe dearth of the perfect Salli (potato sticks). Most Indian stores abroad stock the thick potato wafers but to really enjoy this dish, it must be had with the fine Salli which is only really found in the kirana stores of India.

In fact, so obsessed is my dad with Salli Boti and my mom with Salli per Eedu that my mom often takes back 3 – 4 Kilos of Salli back with her from India. It’s the one thing she won’t be generous about if you visit our home and you will only get a second serve of it if you ask. After all, she has to make it last for a year before either she or I visit each other again.

Now, I’ve heard a lot about how hard this dish is to get right so I was a bit wary about cooking it. After urgent consultations with the mothership in NZ though I decided to take the plunge. And, how wrong was I! This turned out to be the simplest dish I’ve ever made as all you have to do is dunk everything into one pot and twiddle your thumbs until it’s done.

Truly, making Sali Boti is as easy as 1-2-3. The only thing I’d strongly advise you to do however is to let the mutton slow cook. If you must pressure cook then ensure you take all the mutton stock and add it into the tomato gravy and allow for the gravy to evaporate once again. The mutton here can be easily replaced with chicken legs if you prefer poultry. And, I’m happy to share after much research that if you simply must make a vegetarian alternative of this dish you can add in broccoli or mushroom and they will lend the same meaty texture that makes Salli Boti the delicious dish it is.

Salli Boti

Traditional Parsi Sali Boti - meat with potato sticks The classic accompaniment to a Parsi pulao and a classic at any Parsi wedding, the Salli Boti is a dish for all occasions.

  • Prep Time: 20m
  • Cook Time: 1h
  • Total Time: 1h 20m

Ingredients

For Marination

  • 800 grams boneless mutton cut into small chunks
  • 1 tablespoon ginger-garlic paste
  • 1 tablespoon green chilli, garlic and jeera paste
  • 1/2 cup yoghurt

For Cooking

  • 4 tablespoons oil
  • 3 large onions chopped very finely
  • 6 ripe tomatoes boiled, cooled and pureed. Can be replaced with 600ml pasta sauce also
  • 100 milliliters concentrated tomato puree
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 2 teaspoons red chilli powder
  • 2 teaspoons garam masala powder
  • 4 cloves
  • 4 star anise
  • 2 tablespoons Kolah's sugar-cane vinegar. Can be replaced with normal vinegar but quantity may need to be increased.
  • 50 grams jaggery. Can be replaced with sugar if jaggery is unavailable
  • Salt to taste

For Garnish and Serving

  • finely chopped coriander
  • 150 gm fine salli (potato sticks)
  • freshly made roti's

Instructions

  1. Marinate the boneless mutton in some salt, ginger garlic and green chilli paste as well as the yoghurt. Cover the bowl with some cling wrap and let the meat marinate for atleast 2 - 3 hours. The longer you marinate the faster your meat will cook and the better it will taste so I recommend you take your time with this - I prefer to marinate this overnight if time permits.
  2. Now, in a earthern pot (if you have one) or a saucepan, heat the oil and add in the finely chopped onions. Fry the onions till they are translucent and completely soft.
  3. Add in all the spices and mix well for 2 - 3 minutes.
  4. Add in the tomatoes you pureed at home as well as the concentrated puree and mix well. Once you have a thick gravy, add in the mutton pieces, jaggery and salt. Give everything a good stir. Cover your pot so that the meat can start slow cooking on a low-medium flame.
  5. Check in on the meat every 10 - 15 minutes. Covering the pot may have made your gravy slightly watery so for the next 15 minutes, leave the pot slightly open so that water can evaporate.
  6. Once the masala has cooked a bit, it is time to adjust the flavour. If it is not spicy enough add in a little more garam masala. If it is too spicy, add in a little more jaggery - remember though that the vinegar is still to come in and that will usually balance everything out. If you can't point out what's missing, it's usually just a bit of salt.
  7. The whole process of the muttton cooking and the tomato gravy evaporating will take about 35 - 40 minutes. When your meat is completely tender, add in the vinegar and cook for a final 5 minutes. If you feel that the gravy has become too sour for your taste, just let the vinegar cook off.
  8. Add in some finely chopped coriander and give it a final stir. Serve hot with LOTS of salli and fresh roti's on the side.

 

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Comments

  1. Hoshang Vesuna says

    instead of green chilli paste put red chilli paste in marinate & boti is almost done add garam masala powder Pl try

    • says

      Thanks Hoshang – I completely agree re the red chillies. I do add the garam masala but I generally do it at the start so will try doing it towards the end like you have recommended as well.

  2. Payal says

    Hey!! Planning on making this today… Just stuck up on the pasta sauce?? Which one do I use? There are so many out there!!

    Have tried the dhansak recipe and it has been a super hit with cleaned plates and requests to make more 🙂

    • says

      Hey Payal,

      So happy to know that your family enjoyed the dhansak – at my home we used to have it every Sunday as a child – it really is so wholesome and fun to eat. For the pasta sauce, you can just use a plain red Ragu sauce. If you don’t have it don’t stress you can just replace with another 2 – 3 tomatoes. The reason I recommend pasta sauce is that it is quite thick and adds a nice deep red colour to your dish. However, plain tomatoes will also do that – you will just have to let the liquidness of the tomatoes stew for longer so that it dries up. Hope that helps! Good luck – the sali boti is another favourite of mine!

  3. Arnavaz says

    The sali boti recipe above has helped me a lot in making this dish tempting for my kids who love eating parsi food. Looking forward to preparing the same this saturday for them.

  4. Kamal says

    Hi Perzen, I love your blog. Can u please tell me a couple of things.
    1. Does the green chilli-jeera paste have anything else in it besides these two things?
    2. What size is the bottle of pasta sauce that u use?
    3. As some people in the comments section are suggesting to use red chilli paste how much of that would u recommend?
    Thanks for your lovely site

    • says

      Hi Kamal,

      The paste has green chillies, garlic and jeera in it. You can make this using your own combination of measures depending on how spicy/garlicky you like it. The pasta bottle sauce is usually 700gm – you can also replace this with tomato puree. Yes, you could use the red chili paste too – the idea is to marinate the meat whether you use red or green chili doesn’t make much of a difference in this instance.

  5. Munira Tankiwala says

    Could this recipe be cooked in a slow cooker; if so, how should I modify it for best results? Thank you for sharing your lovely recipes!

    • says

      yes my mom makes it frequently in a slow cooker! I would salute the onions and spices on a stove before and then brown the meat a bit. After this, it can be transferred to the slow cooker with the rest of the ingredients and cooked until meat is tender (about 5-6 hours). Vinegar should be added last as that slows down the cooking of the meat generally.

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