This was an article I wrote for Firstpost.com ( A flagship of Network 18). For all of you who don’t know, I’ve been writing 3 food colums for a while now. “Endangered Eats” and “My Life On A Plate” (Celebrity Interviews) for Forstpost and as “The Home Gourmet ‘for The New Indian Express.
“ A celebration is always in order for us Bohri’s, be it a birthday, an anniversary, graduation, reaching puberty, anything that is good news and can be celebrated by hosting dinners to share the joy, not to forget a dinner hosted to commemorate a dead person just leaving aside a divorce, there is nothing we do not celebrate. We Bohri’s dine a lot together and Patvelia was a patent starter served. I remember every time our family would meet, which is pretty often, all us cousins would comfortable on our nice sofas and my nani and mum who always made this dish would serve it to us. Patvelia is one of my most favourite Bohri dishes,” says Abizar Kagalwala.
Bohri’s a very small, tight-knit community are a sub-sect of the Shia Muslims. Tracing back, it is known that they came from Yemen. The first representatives of the sect landed in Khambat, Gujarat and they were so impressed by what they saw, they decided to stay and began preaching. By the second half of the 11th century, their community was established in Gujarat. As legend has it, upon arriving in Khambat, Abdullah a Moulai (preacher), came across a married couple named ‘Kaka Akela’ and ‘Kaki Akela’. They were farmers and on their farm a well had dried up. Abdullah performed a miracle and the well filled up with water. Amazed by this, the couple converted and became the 1st to accept Fatimid Islam in India, and thus the earliest Bohra. Slowly the community grew and today Bohri’s are an astounding 1,061,000 in population.
Bohris, like Khojas and Memons, are the business community of Muslims. They began from Gujarat and are now settled in all parts of the country, and the world. More than any other Indian Muslims, the Bohris have made inroads into trade and commerce and taken themselves to the West, to the Middle and Far East, and even deep in South-East Asia. A peaceful community of good-looking men and women, the Bohris have proved to be hearty trenchermen.
They have a cuisine that is distinct among all the other. Their rich, aromatic and well spiced gravies are an inheritance of the Mughlai Cuisine and their cooking methods are dominant in their food, but you can also see influences of the Guajarati cuisine in there. Bohri’s love their food spicy and I’m clued-up about its daunting colour – Red, from mild to tongue blazin