Daddy’s Deli, Indiranagar: Parsi Cuisine in Bangalore


Daddy's Deli, Indiranagar

Daddy's Deli, Indiranagar

I’ve been hoarding this one for ages.

I first encountered Daddy’s Deli in 2002. At that time, friend-of-many-years Rajesh Nair was subsisting on their egg and chutney sandwiches and chicken subs – to the point where the delivery boy would arrive with a garland and agarbathis and perform a brief pooja prior to handing over the food. Um, yes – of course I’m joking, but only just.

At that time, the Parsi owners, Zarine and Nozer Daroga intended Daddy’s Deli to be just that – a deli that dished out sandwiches, subs, and burgers. When they outgrew the Richmond Town property, they shifted to Koramangala, and after a brief and unsuccessful stint there, to their current location in Indiranagar. Along the way, Daddy’s Deli morphed into a full-fledged restaurant serving home-style Parsi food.

Parsi Cuisine: Persian Culinary Art Meets Gujarati Palate

Our first visit to the restaurant’s current location,  many months ago, was instigated by JJ Cherian (of haleem fame). I was surprised to hear that Daddy’s Deli was still alive – and apparently kicking – in another location. Here’s the sum total of my knowledge of Parsi cuisine:

Parsi cuisine is the result of the Persian culinary tradition colliding with the Gujarati palate. Persian refugees fleeing Arab invaders were allowed to settle in Gujarat on condition that they laid down arms and adopted certain local customs. Over the years, they assimilated the Gujarati language, sartorial style,  and, of course, culinary practices, while maintaining their own distinct identity. Thus cereals, pulses, and the sweet and sour flavors typically associated with Gujarati cuisine meld with the dried fruits, spices, and meats favored by the Persian settlers.

These sometimes startling ingredient combinations have resulted in delectable dishes like dhansak (literally translated as lentils and greens, but featuring red meat); jardaloo ma murghi (chicken cooked with dried apricots); and kummas (a kind of cake made with yoghurt).

The Basics

Charming interiors

Charming interiors

The four of us trouped into Daddy’s Deli at lunchtime on a Saturday afternoon armed with empty bellies and a bare-bones knowledge of Parsi cuisine. The restaurant is tucked discreetly away in a service apartment called Executive Inn, also run by the Darogas, on the part of Indiranagar 12th Main that’s closer to the ESI Hospital.

Pretty painted plates

Pretty painted plates

Since our first visit, the ground floor has been turned into a café serving the original Deli menu plus an all-day breakfast. The Parsi restaurant is located on the first floor (lunch 12.30pm-3pm; dinner 7.30pm-11pm). While it isn’t fancy, it’s cheerful and charming. The tables are set with crisp linen; inset shelving at the rear houses a collection of ceramic plates; a selection of old National Geographics shares space on a sideboard with Readers Digests and racier, Cosmopolitan-type magazines.

Zarine took our order herself, ably guiding us through the menu, bantering with Giant Vacuum Cleaner and Mr. Small, and reacting with increasing alarm to the growling sounds emanating from The Spouse’s innards.

If we once again ordered too much, there were plenty of good reasons. As a “typical” Parsi dish, the dhansak was a must; we all love brain, so the brain cutlets were essential; the sali murghi featured grated potatoes, one of the hallmarks of the cuisine, so that was a must. And so on and so forth…

I think Zarine was disbelieving when I told her we had a collective appetite the size of Texas. She was left in no doubt an hour or so later, when our plates were cleared – they didn’t need to be washed. And now that she knows us better, over several visits, I suspect she asks the chef to get ready for the long haul as soon as she sees me arrive.

For Starters…

Chicken liver on toast

Chicken liver on toast

We began with Chicken Liver on Toast (Rs. 150). The toast, I am happy to report, was not your standard “sliced white” – it looked more like bruschetta bread, a sturdy French or Italian loaf that didn’t disintegrate with the liver topping. The liver itself was cooked firm, nice and peppery.

Daddys deli brain cutletNext up, Brain Cutlets (Rs. 150). A full-on food brawl ensued, because there were only two cutlets, and four people (make that three people plus one Vacuum Cleaner). Spouse and I won, by virtue of being the ones footing the bill.

The cutlets were large, and coated in an egg batter that could have been more crisp and less oily (on a subsequent visit, many months later, this problem had been rectified). The cutlet itself was creamy, with just a hint of green chilli and onion to liven things up. I don’t quite know how this was accomplished in a cutlet of that size, but the brain wasn’t scrambled – there were large enough chunks of it that the texture was apparent. [Amusing aside: apparently people often enquire whether the restaurant uses “chicken or lamb brain”. Chicken brain?? Hahahahahaha.]

Main Course, Of Course

We were now ready for the real food, and ordered dhansak and kebabs to go with it, khichri kheemo, patra ni machhi, and sali murghi with rotli.

Daddy's Deli Patrani maach

Fish-in-a-leaf

The patra ni machhi (Rs. 200), literally translated as “fish in leaf”, was amongst the best I have tasted. The fish (pomfret, that day) was fresh and steamed until it just lost its translucence – not a second longer.

The coriander, mint, and coconut chutney marinade added flavor without overwhelming that of the fish.  A deft squeeze of lemon rounded out the whole very nicely indeed.

… And Now The Dhansak

There are as many dhansaks as there are Parsis – and although the Parsi tribe is fast diminishing (estimates hover at just over 80,000 Parsis worldwide, with less than 1000 the majority based in and around Mumbai), that still makes for a wide range of dhansak variations.

Dhansak served with salad and caramelized rice

Dhansak served with salad and caramelized rice

Daddy’s Deli serves a version (Rs. 250) that features pumpkin but not gourd. It’s a thick, rich blend of spices and four kinds of lentils, enriched with lamb broth and served with brown rice – caramelized, not unpolished – and a kachumber-style salad. I loved the dhansak’s texture and depth of flavor. The deep fried kebabs (Rs. 200) that accompanied it were tasty, but quite frankly, incidental to the dhansak.

Tasty, yet somehow incidental

Tasty, yet somehow incidental

So did I like it? While I’m sure dhansak aficionados will have their own views, I haven’t sampled enough variants to have become as ultra-picky as I am with everything else. That said, I’ve eaten the stuff before, home-cooked by friends.  I’d give the Daddy’s Deli version an 7.5 on 10. Have I tasted better? Maybe – but the Parsi lady who fed it to me died a few years ago at the age of 92, God bless her soul. Besides, it’d be more accurate to say I’ve tasted different versions of dhansak. Go, try it, and if you like it, thank me.  If you don’t – talk to Zarine, not me 🙂

Moving On

All ingredients singing in perfect harmony

All ingredients singing in perfect harmony

I loved the Kheemo Khichri (Rs. 250) for its flawless blend of spices. It’s easy, when you are cooking this kind of seemingly simple dish, to misstep: the spices end up scorched or, more often than not, raw. Sometimes the flavor of one spice can overwhelm the others; sometimes, the whole can taste so bland that you’re left wondering whether salt was the only condiment that was available in the kitchen. Daddy’s Deli obviously knows what it’s doing with this one. It was perfectly balanced, with just a hint of sweetness that I couldn’t quite figure out. And the khichra – yellow rice – was an apt accompaniment. I ended up doggie-bagging some of this, and eating it later with bakery-fresh pav. Delish!

The sali makes all the difference...

The sali makes all the difference...

The bright red  Sali Murghi (Rs. 200) was smothered in crisp potato straws (the sali)  that provided a nice crunchy texture and starchy offset to what would otherwise be an ordinary chicken curry. The subsequent mandatory “finger test” showed that the restaurant does not use food coloring – my fingers came out of the fingerbowl unstained.

Yes, they serve a limited range of interesting vegetarian options, including Parsi-style okra; spinach with baby potatoes; yellow rice and spiced gourd; and steamed rice with pumpkin and brinjal. Have I tried any of them? Do pigs fly?

Sweet Endings

Delectable.

Delectable.

We ended this meal with Lagan Nu Custard, a baked custard of bread and milk traditionally served at Parsi weddings. Mr. Small managed to put away two of the large wedges, as well as an extremely creamy home-made kulfi. Both  (Rs. 75 each) are highly recommended. So is the chocolate mousse, at the same price, which I sampled on another visit. SUPER WOW. I have also heard rumors of an awesome cheesecake – but try as I might, I cannot find it on either of the menus.

The café

If the Parsi restaurant gets full marks, the lower floor café falls short.

The good: it’s a nice place to hang out, the WiFi is free, it’s open 9am to 9pm, and the service is friendly and willing. The Parsi breakfast dishes are apparently a good bet – a friend reported that her kheema-pe-eeda (Rs. 150) was “as good as any I’ve had in Mumbai” and kept her going till her 4pm cuppa. I myself have sampled scrambled eggs and toast (Rs. 75), good; frankfurters (Rs.75), okay; and a pot of tea (Rs. 40), good.

The bad: The waffles (Rs. 120), on two separate occasions, were either burnt, or stodgy. The chocolate milkshake (Rs. 60) was watery and overly sweet (I suspect it was just chocolate powder/syrup and sugar added to milk). There’s no fresh juice.

Not my idea of a burger

Not my idea of a burger

And the downright ugly: The burger (Rs. 120). The bun was dry and crumbly (something they are aware of and addressing by changing the supplier); the patty had been coated in an egg batter and fried (shudder); its inside was therefore raw; and it had been topped with a slice of cucumber. Giant Vacuum Cleaner’s 6″ Roast Beef Sub had a lot of potential, because the beef was

Unfulfilled potential

Unfulfilled potential

excellent; unfortunately all that potential was drowned in a flood of mustard that attempted in vain to moisten the dry bread roll. Uncool.

Perhaps, in time, the café issues will be remedied, because it is a fairly new venture, and I do know two things: one, Zarine really takes customer feedback seriously; and two, Daddy’s Deli is one of those family-run businesses that actively wants to do right by its customers.

Until then, stick to the Parsi fare, and you can’t go wrong.

Daddy’s Deli
#3289, 12th Main
HAL 2nd Stage, Indiranagar
Bangalore – 560 008.

Phone: 41154375

Closed on Mondays.

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19 thoughts on “Daddy’s Deli, Indiranagar: Parsi Cuisine in Bangalore

  1. Suman – just to give the feedback on the cafe. Bread vendor changed – much improvement already. Burger is completely different and would very much appreciate if you could drop in whenever you are this side of town to give us another round of whipping !!!!!!

    Waffles have much improved – Roast beef is great deal better, albeit at Weikfield’s expense !!!!!!!!!

    Can serve Chicken Dhansak ONLY by prior order – it is not really authentic but I can always oblige !

  2. Zarine: Not my intention to whip 🙂 Just to eat good food. And like I said – the one thing I appreciate is that you *listen* to feedback. The roast beef itself was delicious. The kitchen staff just need a lighter touch. Maybe even serve the mustard on the side… And OF COURSE we’ll be back. Mr. Small dreams of the Lagan Nu Custard, and this cheesecake rumor is persistent…

  3. your narration is excellent but the food probably did not rise upto your expectation. i am no great fan of pharsi cuisine. may be i should develop a taste for it.
    bye

  4. Hi Suman, good blog. While reading up on Daddy’s Deli, I read a comment somewhere that their food is not freshly made, but microwaved. Even the rotis. Did you feel that way too by any chance as I plan to go there with some out of town friends soon.

  5. Tried Daddy’s Deli… loved the food, but the rotlis were definitely stale and microwaved. Tasted like those half cooked rotis that you can heat up at home. And the guy that served us sort of dipped his hand in the bhindi ’cause of the way he held the dish. :-S

    • Sorry about that – rotis are made fresh everyday inhouse – they are only microwaved before serving to ensure that they are hot. It’s possible that it was over heated.
      Hand – dipping has been tackled – apologies for it.

  6. Great blog and since Zarine has taken the effort to be the first one to comment i can imagine the effort that is being put. this blog has inspired me to visit the place and i am not going avoid roti and bhindi 🙂 thanks for the heads up

  7. Hello Suman, have been a visitor to your blog from couple of weeks, since we stay near Indiranagar, we prefer some resturant around. After reading your blog persuaded my hubby for some parsi food… we loved the place we had the fish in a leaf, keema and custurd, all tasted as u have described. Awesome write up. Thanks

    • Glad you & your husband enjoyed the food Ranjana – trust you’ll be back for more. Thanks for the feedback. Regards – Zarine

  8. This has nothing to do with the food at Daddy’s Deli.. But I couldn’t help myself from commenting. I’m actually doing my MA dissertation on the Parsi community and HAD to correct this… There way more than 1000 Parsis in Mumbai. About 50,000. And more than 80,000 all over the world.

    =)

    I’ve been working non stop on this dissertation, and it wouldn’t have been fair on that poor thesis if I hadn’t corrected you.

    Having said that, I am from B’lore, and the next time I come down home, I’m definitely going to pay a visit to Daddy’s Deli.
    Also, just noticed this was written in 2009. But nonetheless.

  9. hi Zarine , i hav heard a lot abt ur restaurant daddy’s deli in indiranagar,bangalore n i really love parsi food though i hav nvr tasted it….n i knw dat in ur restaurant u guys serve very hygienic n good homely palatable food n it really gives a homely atmosphere n i hav gone through ur website n mreover i m very much interested in parsi or zorastrian religion since my childhood i really respect dis religion a lot though me being a non parsee…..i wud lke 2 say dat i wanna gve my birthday treat 2 my frens after sme days in ur restaurant so is it possible 2 arrange a birthay party in ur restaurant wid my frens……cud u kindly knw me d menu details…kindly suggest me some good chicken items n fish in non veg…
    Regards,
    Sushmita.

  10. Well my frnd suggested dis place..n m definiltely gonna try it out..!!!
    esp d pan cakes & waffles which according 2 her are a must hav..!!
    so planning 2 drop in very soon…

  11. Pingback: Daddy’s Deli, Indiranagar: Parsi Cuisine in Bangalore « Parsis, Iranis, Zarathushtis – ALL Under One Roof

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