Farokh Talati has always wanted to share Parsi food with the world, his long-held goal being to open a Parsi restaurant to share the traditions and innovations of the cuisine he loves. And it was this very desire (and the luxury of time afforded to him during the pandemic when the London restaurant he worked in, St. John Bread and Wine, closed its doors) that compelled the chef to publish his first cookbook, Parsi: From Persia to Bombay, earlier this month: a collection of recipes and images that combine the cultural traditions of this small Indian ethnoreligious group with his own community of creatives and cooks in London.
The journey of the Parsi people, a group of Zoroastrians who fled persecution during the Arab conquest of Persia in the seventh century, brought them to the shores of India—and has since continued all around the globe. Talati credits this worldly mix of influences for the exciting array of flavors he writes about. “We’ve got such unique flavors from the Persian side of the cooking—the saffron and the dried fruits and spices and the pilaus and gently stewed meats,” he says. “And then going over to India, you mix that with the fish, the coconuts, the chilies, the stronger spices, that masala paste, and wow. It is undeniably delicious and fragrant and tasty—that’s the thing about Parsi food. Maybe I’m biased, but I feel it’s undeniable.”