Baida chutney: A taste of Iran in India : The Tribune India

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Baida chutney: A taste of Iran in India

Baida chutney: A taste of Iran in India


Pushpesh Pant

Persian and Iranian influences are discernible in many iconic Indian recipes. Our interaction with these neighbours dates back centuries, even before the birth of Christ. Indeed, Persia was a proximate neighbour when the subcontinent was undivided. During the reign of the Pahlavi dynasty, immigrants from Iran came to India and settled in Hyderabad, Bombay and Pune. Many set up Irani chaikhana, literally tea houses that were all-day diners. Their menus evolved in response to the palate of local patrons while retaining elements of nostalgic comfort foods.

During a recent visit to Pune, we had the pleasure of discovering Good Luck Café, a legendary eatery in the Deccan Gymkhana area within walking distance of Fergusson College and the Gokhale Institute of Economics and Politics. Kassim bhai, the custodian of this culinary legacy, is a delightful raconteur. He regaled us with the story of how his family entered the food business.

In 1915, a 15-year-old boy, upset at the treatment meted out by his stepmother, stepped out from Yazd, a city in the heart of the desert in Iran, to seek his fortune in India — the land of milk and honey. With maybe two dollars in his pocket, he walked across present-day Pakistan and reached Delhi. The prospects in the city, once a glittering Mughal capital, appeared bleak and he took a train to Bombay. The adolescent had asthma and was advised to move to Pune, with a better climate. He started working in a restaurant and learnt the tricks of the trade.

Years passed, and now a young man, he thought of marriage. When he approached his employer for some money, he was told that the business wasn’t doing too well and there was no money he could expect. However, the man gifted him the restaurant as he had decided to retire! The rest, as they say, is history. The challenge was to establish a clientele for Irani snacks and food in an area dominated by vegetarian Brahmins.

Good Luck Cafe started with vegetarian stuff and it was many years before eggs entered discreetly. The flavours were irresistible and no one threw a fit when chicken and mutton mince were added to the bun maska, toast, chai, pav and more. What the diners can be assured of is healthy, wholesome fare that is unimaginable value for money. Kassim bhai was good enough to share the recipe of baida chutney, aka egg chutney, that we have great pleasure in sharing with our readers.

Baida chutney isn’t an egg curry or egg roast and has rich korma-like gravy that leaves one finger-licking. Even the simplified version is rich and immensely satisfying.

Baida chutney

Ingredients
Eggs 6-8
Onions 2 large
Garlic-ginger paste 1 tbsp
Green chilli paste 1 tsp
Coriander powder 1 tsp
Cumin powder 1-1/2 tsp
Turmeric powder 1/3 tsp
Red chilli powder 1/2 tsp
Black peppercorn powder 1/4 tsp
Clove powder 1/4 tsp
Cinnamon powder 1/4 tsp
Green cardamom powder 1/4 tsp
Kashmiri red chilli powder 1/2 tsp
Char magaz 2 tbsp
Poppy seeds paste 1 tbsp
Cashewnuts paste 1/4 cup
Butter/ghee/oil 1/3 cup
Salt To taste

Method

  • Hard boil and shell the eggs. Cut in halves. Remove the yolk and keep aside. Cut the boiled egg whites in small pieces.
  • Peel and finely chop the onions.
  • Heat butter/ghee/oil in a thick-bottomed pan. Stir-fry the onions till rich golden brown. Add the ginger-garlic and green chilli pastes and stir-fry for a minute.
  • Put in char magaz, poppy seeds and cashewnuts paste, along with the powdered spices, salt and continue stir-frying on medium-low flame till the oil separates. At this stage, add the boiled yolk and mash it with a ladle.
  • Pour 1/4 cup of hot water and add the chopped egg whites. Mash the chutney with a light hand — some egg whites should remain visible! Bring to boil and then lower the flame to simmer till the desired consistency is obtained.
  • Garnish with a large spoonful of cream and fresh coriander/mint leaves.
  • Enjoy with pav or bun. Tastes good with phulka, parantha and steamed rice. We can make a meal of this tasty and nutritious chutney.

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