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.