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Parsi Food

Planning a Parsi feast? Shelley Subawalla has perfect recipes for the classics and more

Subawalla’s Zarin’s Secrets is a small business offering authentic Parsi recipes that go hand-in-hand with their earthy spices

Lygeia Gomes | Published 08.07.22, 07:51 PM
Shelly Subawalla specialises in Parsi spice mixes and recently introduced the ‘Atheli’, an Indian take on a pickled salad

Shelly Subawalla specialises in Parsi spice mixes and recently introduced the ‘Atheli’, an Indian take on a pickled salad

“One Bawi’s efforts to take the distinct flavours of Parsi cuisine into everyone’s homes, globally, one kitchen at a time!” reads the Instagram bio of the Bawi small business on a mission to take Parsi fare global.

Zarin’s Secrets was set up by Shelley Subawalla, a Delhiite with roots in Kolkata, seven years ago. The label revolves around age-old recipes that have been carefully passed down to Shelley from her grandmother Zarin Gimi. The brand is named after her. 


“I want to make Parsi food more accessible. People believe that Parsi food is very exotic, but that’s not true at all. It’s a beautiful cuisine and can easily be cooked at home by anyone!” shares Shelley. 

On offer are authentic Parsi spice mixes (dhan saak masala, dhana jeera masala, curry powder and sambhar masala) which are shipped along with her traditional Parsi recipes so anyone can whip up Green Curry Rice on a Saturday afternoon or spend Sunday devouring good ol’ Dhan Saak! 

Shelley shares five of Zarin’s Secrets’ most well-received recipes for you to try…

Salli Ma Marghi or Gosht


(This recipe is for 1 chicken)

  • 1 onion
  • 2 tomatoes
  • Half a tetra pack of tomato puree
  • 1 tbsp ginger garlic paste
  • 1 -1.5 tbsp of ‘Zarin’s Secrets’ Dhana Jeera Masala
  • Fried potato sticks


  • Cut onion and tomatoes into very small pieces. In a pan, brown onions nicely and add in the tomatoes. 
  • Once cooked, add tomato puree and cook further. When it’s browned nicely, add ginger garlic paste, salt and ‘Zarin's Secrets Dhana Jeera Masala. You can adjust the masala, according to your taste. 
  • Once the masala is cooked, add in the chicken/meat and cook it nicely. Once tender, take off the stove, sprinkle with coriander and potato sticks and serve hot.
  • If you want to serve a vegetarian dish instead, use paneer instead of chicken/meat.

Dhan Saak


(This serves four) 

  • 250 gms arhar (toover) daal
  • 1 potato cut in 4
  • 1 onion cut in 4
  • 1 tomato cut in 4
  • 1 medium-sized brinjal cut into pieces
  • 1 decent slice of red pumpkin (peeled and chopped)
  • 1 tsp heaped ginger garlic paste
  • 2 heaped tbsp ‘Zarin’s Secrets’ Sambhar Masala Powder
  • 2 heaped tbsp ‘Zarin’s Secrets’ Dhan Saak masala powder
  • Juice of 2 -3 limes or (during mango season) 1 raw mango peeled and sliced


  • In a pressure cooker, add onion, tomato, pumpkin, brinjal, potato and dal along with a bit of salt, a pinch of haldi and a bit of ginger garlic paste. Close the cooker and let it cook completely. 
  • If you are cooking meat dhan saak then you can add the meat to the cooker as well and then pressure cook till done. Then, remove the pieces of meat and puree the entire vegetable and dal mixture till you get a smooth dal. 
  • In a separate vessel, add some oil and add ginger garlic paste (fry it well), ‘Zarin's Secrets’ Dhan Saak masala, ‘Zarin’s Secrets’ Sambhar Masala and ‘Zarin's Secrets’ Kashmiri Marchu, as per preference.
  • Once the masalas have cooked well for a minute or two, add the dal paste and mix well. 
  • Boil for 10-15 mins till the masala has amalgamated into the dal.
  • Add meat and boil further for 10 mins. If it is mango season, slice one raw mango and add it to the vessel when you first pour the dal into the masala. If not, you can squeeze one or two limes into the completed dhan saak daal and serve hot with caramelised brown rice. 

Patio (Prawn/Fish)


(This recipe is for 1kg prawns)

  • 1 onion (finely chopped)
  • 2-3 tomatoes (chunky cut)
  • Half a tetra pack of tomato puree
  • 1 tbsp jeera garlic paste
  • 1 -1.5 tbsp of ‘Zarin’s Secrets’ Dhana jeera masala
  • 1 tsp Zarin’s Secrets Kashmiri marchu (if you like it spicy)
  • A few tbsp of malt vinegar (Use Kolah’s vinegar for that authentic Parsi taste)
  • Finely chopped coriander leaves


  • In a pan, brown onions nicely and then add in the tomatoes. Once cooked, add in the tomato puree and cook further. 
  • Once browned nicely, add in jeera garlic paste, salt and the remaining spices. You can adjust the amount of spice as per taste. Add in the vinegar. 
  • Once the masala is cooked, add the protein (prawn/fish) and cook nicely. Once cooked, add 1-2 more tbsp of vinegar and bring it to a boil. Take off the stove, sprinkle coriander leaves and serve hot!

Green Curry Rice

(This recipe is for four)


  • 1 onion (sliced and dry roasted till slightly brown)
  • Curry leaves
  • 1 tbsp. ginger garlic paste
  • 2-3 tbsp. ‘Zarin’s Secrets’ green curry powder
  • A decent bunch of coriander leaves
  • 2-3 green chillies
  • Salt to taste
  • Juice of 1-2 limes (or in mango season, one raw mango sliced)


  • Blend the onion, ginger garlic, coriander leaves and chillies together to make a paste. In a non-stick vessel add a bit of oil, fry the curry leaves and add onion and coriander paste. 
  • Fry for a few minutes. Add the ‘Zarin's Secrets’ green curry powder and cook for a few minutes (10-15 minutes). Add your choice of meat and water and cook. During mango season, slice raw mangos and cook them with the curry. Serve hot with white rice and kachumbar salad!

Tip: Marinate your prawns or fish in lime before cooking

Parsi Kebabs


  • 1 kg of mincemeat (either chicken or mutton).
  • 1-2 heaped tbsp ‘Zarin’s Secrets’ Dhana Jeera powder
  • 1 heaped tbsp ‘Zarin's Secrets’ Kashmiri marchu 
  • Green chillies (optional)
  • 1-2 heaped tbsp ginger garlic paste
  • A huge bunch of coriander leaves chopped fine 
  • 1-2 mashed potatoes (mashed well)
  • 1-2 eggs
  • 1-2 tbsp breadcrumbs


  • In a large bowl, mix all the above ingredients well. Make small, fist-sized balls. In a frying pan, heat a generous amount of oil and deep fry. Drain and eat hot!
  • If you want to serve vegetarian kebabs instead, use soya mince.

Pulao or Biryani


  • 1 onion
  • 2 tomatoes
  • 1 tsp chilli powder
  • 1 tsp Haldi
  • 1 tbsp ginger garlic paste
  • 2 tbsp of ‘Zarin's Secrets’ pulao/biryani masala
  • Salt to taste.
  • Ghee
  • Lime juice (squeezed from 2 lemons-large)
  • Coriander leaves
  • 2-3 tbsp curd (well beaten)
  • 2 cups of basmati rice
  • A pinch of saffron / yellow food colouring
  • A kg of mutton/chicken/prawns/fish


  • Marinate the mutton or chicken with curd and the ‘Zarin's Secrets’ pulao/biryani masala and leave for 2-3 hours or overnight (if making fish or prawn biryani, leave out the curd). 
  • Cut the onion and tomatoes into small pieces. Brown onions nicely and then add tomatoes. Once browned nicely, add ginger garlic paste, salt and chilli powder according to taste. (In fish or prawn biryani, use jeera garlic paste instead of ginger garlic). 
  • Once the masala is cooked, add chicken/meat marinade and cook nicely. 
  • Take off the stove and make sure there is plenty of gravy (else the pulao goes dry). Sprinkle with coriander. 
  • Take your rice and divide it into two portions. Keep one white and the other yellow (with saffron or colouring). In your pulao dish, pour meat/chicken in first. Then layer with yellow/saffron infused rice. 
  • Top it off with white rice. Add a bit of ghee between each layer for moisture and flavour. Pour the lime juice over the top, sprinkle coriander and seal the dish. You can also sprinkle fried onions on top. 
  • Seal with atta and cook like on the dum or seal and place in oven at 200 degrees Celcius for 30 minutes. You can also cover it and put it in the microwave for 20 minutes. Eat hot, ideally served with masala dal (veg dhan saak dal) and kachumbar (salad). One can even add potatoes to the pulao!

Apart from spice mixes, Zarin’s Secrets also has traditional Parsi biscuits and pickles on offer. Order here.

Last updated on 08.07.22, 08:00 PM

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