Saturday before last was a holiday being Gudi Padwa. If one had a look at the local papers on that day one could be forgiven if one had no clue it was also another major festival, viz. Navroz – the Parsi New Year day heralding Spring. While there was ample coverage in print media about the ceremonies associated with Gudi Pada, with special supplements to commemorate the same, Navroz largely went unnoticed.
Having had one of the best guides for my PhD research in Professor Lakshmi Chandra from the English and Foreign Languages University (EFLU), Hyderabad, I make it a point to wish her every Navroz. We still continue to be the best of friends. She has helped me on life’s journey and has been there every step of the way with her counsel and prescience. She SMSed us that she had been to the agiary in the morning and attended open house with her friends.
This year to commemorate Navroz, I was determined to take my family out to Zuperb-- the restaurant in Calangute which specializes in Parsi food. Driving down from Siolim I made a call at 2.40 p.m. to announce that we were planning to drop in for lunch. Mani picked up the phone and chased my anxieties away with her breezy reply, ‘We usually serve throughout the day, but today since we have an order on account of Navroz, we are open till 4.’
Anjuna, Arpora and Baga swept by until we reached what is known as ‘Holiday street,’ Candolim, marked by the chapel in the middle of the road. Of course this was familiar territory, having dropped in many a time to Literati, Gauravaddo for its numerous dos. Across Calangute mall we turned in to our right towards Zuperb after seeing a red signboard showing us the way. Tucked away at the end of the street on the left was Mani and Zubin’s spacious and airy edifice which with its wooden furniture, glass top tables, and an unhurried pace looked very inviting. Not finding place to park with the numerous signboards prohibiting parking within 50 metres of the signs, I steered the i10 plumb in front of the restaurant with Mani guiding me as I reversed.
Our mutton Sali boti was delicious with the hot chapatti’s that kept coming. The prawn pulao came next with the most delectable of flavours, laced with fresh green capsicums and wedges of fried potatos. Little Dwayne was lost in his caramel custard and polished off his plate. Mani was saying the Parsi sweet dish, the Lagan nu custard, was a tad too tedious to take on, so how about the specially-made brownie? It was gooey, warm and fresh without the ice-cream.
It wasn’t a good time to remember Cyrus Mistry’s recent Chronicle of a Corpse Bearer (2012), on the Parsi corpse-bearers of Bombay. But then we also remembered the famed mutton biryani at another favourite Parsi restaurant, viz. Dorabjees, at Pune Camp where we recently devoured it along with the Dhansak.
Pix of a beaming Mani and Zubin with Queenie and Dwayne at Zuperb, Goa on 21 March 2015 (taken by me); Published in Gomantak Times, Weekender St. Inez, Goa on Sunday 29 March 2015.