Wednesday 13 August 2014

Dhun Dar nay Patio( lentils, rice and curry)

Dhun Dar nay Machi Patio
Golden Lentils and Fish Patia

If there was one dish in your home and culture that you had to specifically say you have served at any and every happy occasion what would it be?
For the Parsis, it is the dhun dar and patiyo.
The basic meal of a typical Parsi household on any festive occasion is a triad of rice, lentil, and thick stew like chutney called "Patiyo," pronounced Pa-tea-O and not a patio.
This trio was combined at least about 2 centuries ago. Legend has it that there were 3 core reasons for it. Firstly it was affordable for large families, we lived in joint families (similar to a commune). The matriach of the house would be able to partake in the celebrations and it is a dish that can be accomodating to the toddler and the elderly members in the family. It is simple, quick, and yet something quite distinctive. It continues to be healthy, ageless, and timeless. A popular choice for any celebration, including birthdays, anniversaries, and Navroze (the new year) as well as auspicious days like the Navjote and Jashan, both religious rituals.
It is still a midday dish rather than a dinner dish; it is always prepared with seafood or vegetables rather than meat. The patiyo is a side dish, and everyone can have as much or as little as they want. Kids were often allowed to sprinkle sugar on this dish as a treat or perhaps the was just an incentive to eat-up!

Here I have shared my family recipe for a delightful fish patio with drumsticks  sekta ni singh, also known as Moringa. These are now available in most Indian stores across North America and can be ordered online. It is an option to omit the drumsticks and enjoy the fish patio on its own.

Optionally, there is a choice of a prawn patio or jhinga no patio if you prefer.

The Parsi Patiyo/Patia is a choice of fish or prawn/shrimp and not of any poultry or meat. But vegetarian versions are made up of eggplant or pumpkin kohru/kadu. 

A perfect balance of sweet, sour, and spice makes it just right.

Presented at Le Cordon Bleu London on 11th May 2017

Boiled rice topped with lentil that have a 'tarka' on it. Served with a patio of fish  and drumsticks.

Often served as a vegetarian/vegan dish

The Dar/Lentils
8 oz  tuar dal/pigeon peas(not oily)
8 oz red split  masoor dal
¾ tsp turmeric
1 tsp salt
4 oz salted butter

Place the washed lentils in a stock pot with 4 cups of water. Add the turmeric and salt to it. Bring the dal to a boil and cook the dal on a medium fire for 40 minutes. The water can be topped if necessary. Add the butter and pulse the lentils to a thick but liquid mash.

The Fish Patiya
3 tbsp oil
2 large onions finely chopped
¾ th cup of dried desiccated coconut ground to a paste
2 tsp ground ginger
2 tsp ground garlic
2 finely chopped green chillies
2 whole green chillies
1 tsp red chilli powder
1 ½ tsp ground cumin
½ tsp turmeric powder
¾ cup tomato pureed
2 large tomatoes cut into 3 pieces each
2 raw green mangoes peeled and finely chopped or ground
¾  cup of fresh coriander, finely chopped
10 scraped drumsticks cut into 4 inch pieces
1 ½ tsp salt
1 tbsp jaggery
½ kg of fresh firm fish like Salmon, Surmai, Kingfish or Cod, Haddock or Halibut

Heat the oil and fry the onions till golden brown. Add the ground coconut, stirring constantly till the coconut is a very light pink. Immediately add in the ginger and garlic and continue to cook for a minute. Add the chillies, cumin, turmeric, and salt to taste. Cook for another minute and add the tomatoes, raw peeled mangoes, and finely chopped fresh coriander. Finally, add Moringa drumsticks. Add 3 cups of water and bring it to a boil. Cook for about 1 hour on medium heat, covered. Check that the drumsticks are cooked through. Add the jaggery and mix well. Finally, add the fish for the last 15 minutes. Cook until just done.
The patia should be slightly thick and finely balanced to be perfectly tikkhu-mitthu-khattu, which is spicy-sweet-sour, the trinity of Parsi food.

Add more jaggery or lemon juice if required.
Jaggery is a raw sugar found in all Indian super markets. Palm sugar is an alternative to jaggery as is brown sugar.
Serve this with white boiled rice, the dhun dar lentils, and the fish patia as one dish.


The Patia or Patiyo is also used in reference to a particular kind of pot used as a cooking utensil. It is the actual shape of the vessel that signifies the name. Wide and flat but with bulging rounded sides is the best way I can describe it.

The Greek language also refers to a very accomplished woman as a Patia! It is a girl’s name which literally translates to "highly intelligent" and is derived from the word "hypatia". That sounds rather interesting, no?

My published cookbooks are available for sale through myself and on Amazon.

The World of Parsi Cooking: Food Across Borders is an award-winning book. It was self-published in July 2019 and will be going into its second print in 2022. 

The Art of Parsi Cooking: Reviving an Ancient Cuisine was published in 2016 by Austin Macauley and continues to be available through Amazon Book Depot, Book Depository, and from the publishers.


 Niloufer's Kitchen: Quick and Easy

Photo credit Sheriar Hirjikaka

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