While Dhansak will always remain synonymous to Parsi Food, Sali Boti is not too far behind.
Popular in most cafes and restaurants that serve up Parsi Cuisine, the sali boti is served with fresh warm rotlis. While the boti refers to the small pieces of soft succulent mutton, lamb or goat meat, the sali is slim slivers of potatoes deeply fried to a crisp. Covering the meat completely with these crisp pieces of heaven is how it is best served.
As in all recipes that have come down generations by word of mouth or learning in the kitchen, the variations are endless. Is it whole garam masalo or ground? Should we add a dash of tomato or none? Worcestershire Sauce can replace the khatu mithu, yet vinegar and jaggery is more authentic, does it really need the dash of turmeric or has it become a part of the 'health conscious' Parsi?
Do we add a bit of yogurt or cream and marinate? Well, the honest truth is far from known to anyone. It has now become a matter of choice and a personal preference of taste. All I do recommend is to use red onions over any other, that is if you are planning to fry it from scratch and not adding the store bought variety. The red onion seems to be favoured in many original authentic recipes, perhaps it is part of our Persian Heritage much like the use of dry fruit and nuts in our recipes.
Serves 6 persons
1 kg diced meat of choice; lamb, mutton or goat
1 tbsp oil
1 1/2 tsp salt
3 tsp fresh garlic paste
2 tsp fresh ginger paste
1 1/2 tsp red chillie powder
1/2 tsp cumin powder
2 tomatoes crushed
1 tsp garam masalo
750 gm fried onion; preferably using red onions
1 cup water or as needed
2 tbsp fruit vinegar
2 tbsp jaggery
Optionally: Fresh corriander leaves to garnish
Prepare the meat to be cut in equal pieces. In a pan heat the oil and brown the meat. Add all the spices and the tomato. Keep cooking and stirring for about 15 minutes until the gravy thickens releasing drops of oil on the side of the pan. This is called ''ghee tayl per avay'' and important to cook the spices and gravy. Now add the garam masalo and onion. Mix well and add the cup of water. Bring it to a boil, lower the heat, cover and cook on a simmer for 45 minutes to an hour or until the meat is very soft. The gravy should be thick and not at all runny. Lastly add the vinegar and jaggery. Cover and cook on a low simmer for a further 10 minutes until it has incorporated well.
Serve this dish hot topped with 250 gm Sali. Warm Rotli or soft nan on the side is the ideal accompaniment.
I personally have always preferred the flavours of the bone in any meat dish and use small diced meat with a few bone in thrown in.
Use wafers, crisps if sali is unavailable in stores near you.
To make your own sali peel and sliver the potatoes, wash and pat dry. in a tea towel. Heat the oil and deep fry until golden brown and crisp.
Drain on a paper towel, sprinkle lightly with salt while hot and keep aside to use.
Alternately dice the potatoes very small, pan fry or roast in an oven, lightly sprinkle with salt. It will not be as crisp but still taste just as delicious.
For more Parsi recipes click on The Art of Parsi Cooking ; reviving an ancient cuisine.
Photo courtesy Niloufer Mavalvala