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Jun 10, 2010 05:40 AM

A legendary dish from a legendary Bombay restaurant: Chicken Sali

it's at the bottom of this article, which is a loving tribute to a bombay institution.

fyi: the first wave of persians to come to india fleeing the muslims call themselves 'parsi', while the latter immigrants are called 'iranis'. and yes, they do inter-marry (grin) though of course there's a bit of snobbery involved. irani cafes are legendary in bombay for providing cheap, hygienic and utterly delicious food. sadly, their numbers are waning - the families are shrinking, real estate has exploded - the usual development story.

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  1. Damn fine recipe, H.

    By the by, the reference to "potato chips"? Is this British chips, American chips or are they something altogether different in India?

    8 Replies
    1. re: Harters

      Nice! I need to dig up a source of curry leaves...

      1. re: Jim Leff

        Curry leaves are readily available at the Jackson Heights markets, assuming you are still there..

        1. re: Jim Leff

          Fresh curry leaves are also available the Little India Store, corner Lex and 28th Street (128 W. 28 Street.) Sometimes Food of India has them, too (Lex and 28th.)

          Also, if you want to find more Parsi recipes, have a look at Cafe Spice Namaste, by
          Cyrus Todiwala, Soma Books, 1998. Available on Amazon. He is Parsi...

          1. re: penthouse pup

            i'm not sure cyrus todiwala sticks to the real thing in his recipes. a commonly cited book by parsis is 'jamva chaloji' (lets go eat) by katy dalal.

        2. re: Harters

          it IS a fantastic recipe, i just made it tonight and can vouch for it.

          the 'sali' in the recipe title refers to the potato chips - but it isn't chips as you would think of them. here's my best description: imagine string french fried potatoes which have mysteriously hardened to the texture of twigs (ie not soft/limp but brittle). that is sali, which is beautifully softened by the gravy its spread over. altogether a classic.

          actually, the true parsi classic is 'sali boti' which are these potato straws strewn over a mutton (ie goat) gravy, i should hunt for a recipe.

          in any case, do try the recipe out for chicken sali. the curry leaves are key - email me if you can't find them and i'll either point you to an online source or send you some myself.


          1. re: howler

            Can you post the curry leaf source for all to benefit?

            And are these the sort of potato sticks?

            1. re: Jim Leff

              yes, those are the potato straws! and as for curry leaves, patel brothers has them


              actually, any half way decent indian store will carry them so if you have anybody local, try them out!

            2. re: howler

              Thanks, H.

              I'd have thought that I should be able to get curry leaves and the sali from one of the large asian supemarkets in Manchester but I'll give you a shout if there's a problem.

          2. I don't know much about Parsi cooking. The Parsis I know are descendents of people who settled from Iran in Gujarat and they speak a dialect of Gujarati at home and their cooking is very Indianized-Gujarati type though very Parsi specific. It is interesting to know that there were communities who came from Iran more recently...their cooking muct be very the barberry pullao mention in the article. The fish patra is definately from the Gujarati Parsi community, though. I am actually surprised that the two communities intermarry :-) Love it when you post about this stuff. Thanks.

            1 Reply
            1. re: luckyfatima

              what unites the parsis and the iranis is that they are both zoroastrians; really, the same people except the parsis are from the first wave of settlers fleeing muslim persecution in the eight century. they landed in gujarat and were given shelter by the local ruler provided their women wore saris, that they adopt gujarati and that they accept no religious conversions.

              aaanyway, their cuisine is fascinating - it is completely their own (totally different from any gujarati cuisine) - and is very non-veg centric.

            2. Curry leaves can be got at any decent Indian food market. And from the pics I've seen of Chicken Sali (Murgi Sali), the potatoes seem to be basically fast food French fries. In any event, I plan on adding this dish to my recipe index--it sounds fabulous.

              1. made this a couple of times, huge hit with the family. couple of modifications: use more curry leaves - say 12 - and use a hunk of ginger, not a little piece.