Parsi: From Persia to Bombay: Recipes & Tales from the Ancient Culture by Farokh Talati opens with a tribute to the Parsi people, a religious group that settled in India in the seventh century after fleeing persecution in their Iranian homeland. Talati, an acclaimed British-Indian chef and member of the Parsi diaspora, captures the joyful spirit of community in his debut cookbook, honoring Persian and Indian flavors in his everyday recipes as well as festive dishes designed for sharing. With user-friendly recipes enhanced with photos and family anecdotes, Talati invites readers to sample potent spice mixes and vibrant pickles, including the charmingly named "wedding pickle." Vegetable, rice and lentil recipes abound, while meat and fish play an integral part in the curries, kebabs and pulao dishes that Parsi celebrates. Talati's version of kedgeree, with "a hint of Parsi flair," includes saffron, turmeric and basmati rice scented with cloves and cinnamon. Sweet-toothed readers are in for a treat. A chapter devoted to "sweet things and ice creams" is followed by a tempting selection of biscuit (cookie) and cake recipes. The decadently layered Knickerbocker Glory, a throwback to Talati's childhood, plays a starring role.
The head chef at London's St. John Bread and Wine, Talati hopes to open a Parsi restaurant and preserve the venerable food traditions of the world's rapidly dwindling Parsi population. His cooking philosophy is anchored in the belief that one should not hesitate to experiment beyond the prescribed borders of a given recipe. "Remember," Talati writes, "there is no right or wrong, only deliciousness." --Shahina Piyarali, reviewer