5th Semester has ended. Boards in another 3 weeks. If anyone told you being a journalism student is easy, don’t get fooled by them!
Tests, assignments, presentations…oh it never ends but I’ve enjoyed every bit of it. I’ve learned so much. Mostly how to balance time and that explains how I keep this blog going too.
Anyways, so all of you who have been following me on my social media platforms, would have noticed how busy I’ve been in giving most of my time on a small project for college.
Yes. We had to design a 32 page magazine in less than 2 weeks with tests, other project submissions and pre-boards going on. I still can’t believe how I did it all! But I did it and I’m pretty happy with the outcome of it.
So without saying anything more, here’s my Cover Story “The Rise Of The Bawi Bride”
I don’t think my cover girl needs much introduction.
Meet Perzen Patel or the girl more commonly known as “Bawi Bride” as she cooks up a storm and tells me all about her amazing culinary journey until now.
Text: Riya Patel
“When in doubt , break an eedu over it” exclaims Perzen, the girl who knows her bhonu better than anyone else. We all know how much Parsis love their eggs and are known to add it to every possible dish you can think of. From Sali Per Eedu to Bafela Eeda Bhajiyas to Chutney Eeda Pattice, the egg is the king!
This community takes their food very seriously and the amount they contribute to the food industry in the country is absolutely breath-taking! They have a number of interesting dishes to offer us and it’s amazing how they can tell a wonderful story of it just through words and images.
Perzen Patel, the brain behind Bawi Bride Kitchen, one of the city’s most well-known catering services, specializing in Parsi cuisine has always been fond of food and she amusingly tells me that eating and feeding people is something that runs in her DNA.
She lived in Mumbai till the age of fifteen and then moved to New Zealand with her family. When she was in class 10, studying for her board exams, her mum asked her what she wanted to do with her life and she knew it had to be something to do with food. This helps her recall it as one of the reasons they decided to leave the country as there were not many good hospitality colleges back in 2000. While she enjoyed her time in New Zealand, she was known as the ‘Continental Chef’ as she was ever ready to whip up dips, pastas and bake dishes. Even at her wedding lunch, instead of having the traditional Dhandar Patio, her parents jokingly asked her to make nachos.
“Six months into getting married though, I realised that I must shed my ‘Continental Cook’ tag and get my hands dirty to learn some Parsi cooking. Continuous secret calls to mom in NZ at midnight weren’t a good look when I was trying to impress the in-laws. Moreover, I realised that there were barely any trusted resources online to learn Parsi food and given the rate at which Irani cafes are dying out, I worried that soon the history and stories behind Parsi food would be lost if someone didn’t do something about it.” she reminisces.
The Parsis have a history that goes back to more than 1000 years ago and it is believed that they emigrated from Iran to Gujarat. She spoke to her family and a few experts and soon started putting down these chronicles in her blog. “The blog is more like a personal diary. It starts and ends with dhansak. It was started to document my quest into mastering Parsi food and restoring it back to its former glory.”
She wrote all that she cooked every day and shares step-by step recipes sourced from her family, friends and various other cookbooks. People connect a lot more to a story and that’s how she’s trying to involve more and more people to this cuisine. A month after she started writing, a lot of her friends made her realize that she could do so much more and hence the blog soon turned into a catering business which we all know of today.
Food has always been an integral part of her life since the day she was born. One of her earliest food memories was with her Grandpa making Bombay Ducks. She goes on to say of how particular he was and needed them to be cooked in a certain way. He also disliked anyone to be around while he did the cooking. Perzen was the lucky grand-daughter!
Starting off as just a food blogger and now currently serving people at five star hotels in a matter of few years, is a dream come true for Perzen but she says that it has not been the easiest ride and it didn’t happen all of a sudden. “My husband and I used to have these discussions and one day he suggested that I must start selling my food and I laughed. It has been a scary journey but the one thing that has really helped me is staying true to my food.”
She’s not a professionally trained chef so for her it’s all about trial and error but this comes to her advantage as it allows her to work around with her creativity and come up with unique dishes such as the famous Sali Boti Pizza, Lagan Nu Custard Ice cream and Choi Fudna we are all familiar with. She loves to experiment and bring modern twists to old flavours. She also believes in not wasting leftovers and whips up innovative dishes like Chutney Falafels and Kaju Vatena Ni Surmai.
Earlier this year, there was quite a big change in her life. She started getting a lot more publicity and realized that she had to choose between one of her two careers because it became quite hectic for her to handle both of them. It was not the easiest decision as she loved them both equally but finally made up her mind to quit her job as a marketing professional to become the Chief Tasting Officer at Bawi Bride Kitchen.
There’s no story as such behind the name ‘Bawi Bride’. It’s as simple as it looks. She’s a Parsi, who’s just got married hence the ‘Bawi Bride’. When I asked her how it all came about she replied, “My grandma supplied daily dubbas and my mum sold Kheema Cutlets so it has always been the plan to start something of my own too.”
A typical day for her would start at around seven in the morning at the kitchen where she has to get all the preparations done to send out the daily dubbas. Once that is done, she starts planning the meals for the next day and then goes back home at around 3 pm because that’s when her other life begins. She writes for India Food Network.
She happens to love cooking, eating and feeding her close friends and family. “The one dish that I can never get tired of cooking would be my Mamaji’s curry that has quite a silly story behind it. So when I used to visit my grandmum, one day she asked me, what was the one thing I wanted from her before she died and I replied – Just a bowl of your red, coconut curry!” she exclaims.
There is a huge collection of her mother’s recipes that she often refers too and generally recipes are passed down from one generation to the next in her family. “My entire family has been very supportive especially #BawaGroom who keeps pushing me to achieve all my dreams. Most of my mother-in law’s recipes have been stolen by me too. It’s just that I don’t want the Parsis to get endangered.” she adds.
When you go through her menu, there are quite a few dishes that are inspired by her family members and also other people who mean a lot to her. Like the Cheese and egg cutlets she says is another fellow food blogger, Zenia Irani’s grandmum’s recipe, then there is her Mamaiji’s Red Prawn Curry Rice, Dhandar( dal for all seasons and all reasons) , Lagan No Patio, Dolly Mummy’s Sali Par Eedu, Kashmira’s Potato Cheese Cutlets and her Grandpa’s Kheema Kebabs to name a few.
Speaking about her success, so much has changed the last couple of months for her. The kitchen was something she started for fun and as a weekend venture. Today, she has a full time catering business where she supplies tiffins, sells her food through the food application-Tiny Owl, participates in pop-ups, runs Parsi cooking lessons, has started Parsi brunches at her home and recently did a ten day Parsi food festival at JW Sahar. To add to her many achievements, she also won the best regional food blog at the IFBA awards last year and recently launched an e-book called #BestKeptSecrets which basically consists of recipes shared by people who specialize in different cuisines.The main reason to launch the book was to share food stories with one another. “ This book is not one written by me but is a collection of people’s stories and recipes. I would love to write a book of my own sometime soon though!” she chuckles.
Apart from what the world knows her as today, she is crazy about travel, loves adventure, sports, sky diving and bungee jumping. Recently she took a trip to Hong Kong and says that the Stir Fried Frog legs that she ate was the most adventurous eat for her.
It is indeed inspiring to hear all her stories and how much dedication she has for her community and their food. She goes on to say “Parsi cuisine will always be niche but it has to be scalable and it is important to share the knowledge with others. My mum has always been my Encyclopedia when it comes to knowing all the Parsi history I need to know.”
With business going so well, Perzen looks into the future of the Bawi Bride Kitchen with a big smile. “My vision is to make Parsi food accessible to everyone, everywhere. Maybe in the form of a food truck or Quick Service Restaurant. I am also looking at being able to host Parsi pop-up experiences in other cities besides Mumbai.”
Here is a girl with big dreams, ready to change the way the world looks at food today and is extremely passionate about what she is doing.
I ask her what advice she could give to young, aspiring food bloggers to which she replies,“Remember to always be true to your niche. Choose what you want but commit and stick to it. Try to write a blog post at least once a week and stay focussed!”
These are wise words from the girl who happens to be one of the very few regional food bloggers in the country and has achieved so much in the last few years. It is her wisdom and business acumen that is bringing out the change in this world of gastronomy!
She is out there to inspire the world with her talent telling us “ There’s more to life than dhansak! ”
Here are a few pages from the magazine: