‘Taste the Love. Love the Taste.’ So goes the tagline of Bawi Bride Kitchen, an authentic Parsi kitchen which rolls out the community’s signature delicacies.
At the helm of affairs is Perzen Patel, trained in Hospitality Management and Marketing.
Curious what the name means? “Bawi and Bawa are colloquial terms to refer to a Parsi woman and man respectively. Because I had got married just then, I decided to call it Bawi Bride Kitchen,” says a blushing Perzen.
Initially it started as a weekend concept, where Perzen would take orders throughout the week but deliver only during the weekends. That is because Perzen was managing a day job then but she decided to call it quits once she made up her mind to take the final plunge into entrepreneurship.
The love for Parsi cuisine
Born into a Parsi family, Perzen loved the authentic cuisine but did not know how to make any. She pursued her higher studies from New Zealand where she stay put for nine years. There, her mother used to sell cutlets and kababs and Perzen used to help her. But she never managed to learn anything Parsi to cook.
It was only post marriage, when she got back to Mumbai, that she started making midnight calls to her mother for secret recipes to impress her in-laws.
“They were all frantic save-my-soul kind of calls, something from which my mother bailed me out each time. It was fun to document the recipes and thus the idea of starting a food blog developed,” says Perzen. A couple of months into it and readers started reaching out to Perzen and even her husband urged her to start Bawi Bride kitchen.
Perzen says she didn’t have perfect menus then and therefore thought the idea of a weekend catering model would be perfect to start with, in 2013. She started with starters, main course and desserts and continued that model till the December of 2013.
“My marketing job gave me enough flexibility to work from home, so that I could pursue both cooking and the day job. But by the end of 2014, I knew I wanted to pursue this full time and realization too struck that the demand and interest for Parsi food had indeed gone up, so I decided to jump into it full time,” says Perzen.
Now she has a six person team at Bawi Bride kitchen and supplies daily dabbas and does pop-ups too.
The love for dhansak
“Parsi food is just not dhansak, there is so much more beyond it,” says Perzen. “Though I didn’t know about Parsi recipes to begin with, I knew how the end dish is supposed to taste, so it was not very difficult to arrive at the ingredients by a mix and match combination,” says Perzen.
This Parsi entrepreneur distinctly remembers her grandmother’s curry and rice. “Like all old people usually ask, what do you want me to give you before I pass away, she also asked me one day. Young as I was then, I told her to prepare her signature curry rice, something which would last me a lifetime,” she recollects. Vivid memories of her granny in tow, she made sure she included this recipe into her menu. She also has her grandpa’s keema kababs in the envious menu. A friend’s grandmother Shirinbai made lovely cheese and egg cutlets, something that she has ensured figures in her menu.
“My grandma used to sell it to make ends meet, I do it from another perspective. More than the food, it is the story behind the food that makes it special,” says Perzen. A lot of these stories are shared on her blog as Perzen believes there are no secret recipes.
Working at startups
“It’s been a great journey so far, says Perzen,” “I have loved working with startups and one thing I have
learnt is that it is a changing environment all the time. Nothing is fixed in the entrepreneurial journey and there is great learning around the operations side of it, something which I handle.”
Her expansion plans are two pronged – she either wants to start a mobile food truck to do the rounds of the city or to have a central kitchen with online food delivery services.
For someone who got the cook book Jamwa Chaloji by Katy Dalal as a wedding gift from her mother who was worried about her daughter’s Parsi cooking skills, Perzen has indeed come a long way.