Serving the Parsi culinary treasure with love

Perzen Patel — Founder, Bawi Bride

When Perzen was studying for her 10th standard board exams, her mother asked her what she wanted to do with her life and she confidently replied that it would be something to do with food. A total foodie, Perzen Patel says that eating and feeding food runs in her DNA — her maternal uncle ran a Parsi dabba service and her mom sold kebabs and pattice when they moved to New Zealand. With such strong family influences, it is no surprise that Perzen meandered into the culinary world with Bawi Bride. Her food blog, Bawi Bride.com started as an attempt to document her quest into mastering Parsi food and restoring it back to its former glory. One month into this journey and her lovely readers convinced Perzen that simply writing about Parsi food wasn’t enough and that she should start sharing this treasure with others too. And, that’s how the Bawi Bride Kitchen was started.

A Mumbai bred girl, Perzen moved to New Zealand with her family in 2000 for 9 years where she studied hospitality and marketing and worked in catering and events. She came to be known as the ‘Continental Chef’ in her family — someone who was always eager to whip up dips, pastas, bake dishes. In the beginning, cooking was simply something Perzen did for fun on the weekends. She would learn a new dish on Monday, perfect it throughout the week and then sell it on the weekends. By January 2014, Bawi Bride had expanded with a full catering menu and hosted their first pop-up later that year. In early 2015. Perzen quit her day job and became the Chief Tasting Office at Bawi Bride Kitchen.

Bawi Bride Kitchen caters for events upto 80 people, provide daily Parsi tiffins, organise Parsi PopUps and runs customised Parsi cooking classes. BawiBride.com has been awarded India’s Best Regional Food Blog Award in 2014 & 2015 by the Food Bloggers Association.

High point in career

“Well I am not a professionally trained chef so I’ve had to learn all the basics through mistakes you’d normally make in college but that’s also been a lot of fun and has resulted in many great inventions — the Lagan nu Custard ice-cream came about as a result of an overdone custard while the Sali Boti Pizza came about due to having no idea about appetites and making about 2kg excess of the dish. I wouldn’t say there is any one success because I enjoy each and every day in the kitchen. But, if I had to pick one happy moment it would be when the eyes of my guests light up at seeing the food or when they have a ‘foodie moment’ on their first bite of a Dhansak — that makes it all worth it.

When starting up everything takes much longer than you expected and your budget will invariably be stretched but it is important to invest in your business and in your operations. The Eureka moment for me was to stop seeing these things as expense items and viewing it as an investment into our growth. Each day I learn a new lesson on the food side of things — that’s what keeps me going as it is no fun if you already know it all.”

Greatest inspiration

“My greatest inspiration is my mother. She disrupted her life for my education and moved with me to New Zealand where for a long time we struggled to make ends meet – at one point we didn’t have enough cash in the bank to even buy a ticket back home to India. When it comes to food too she is a treasure trove of knowledge and is always happy to experiment with me in the kitchen. She still lives in NZ but my day at work is not complete without discussing the day’s challenges with her and getting her inputs on how I can resolve them.”

Most important milestone in life

“The day my husband convinced me to try selling the food that I cooked – never did I dream then that Bawi Bride Kitchen would take off in a way where I’d actually be able to quit my day time job and do what I’ve dreamt of full time!”

“Women are the better halves”- Have we moved beyond this?

“I really don’t believe in the women are the better half statement and genuinely believe that my husband and I are both equals in the relationship. There are certain things he loves doing which I hate and vice versa so it is simply a matter of balancing out what you like doing and then one can be equals rather than better or worse.”