‘Don’t eat my brain’ and other Parsi-isms

Ahead of the Parsi New Year next week, we compile phrases from a new book that reflect the community’s love of food.

By: Team Express FoodIE | Mumbai | Updated: March 19, 2016 4:29 pm
Actor Boman Irani, along with theatre veterans Dolly and Bomi Dotiwala, has lent his voice to an audio CD, speaking the phrases out loud the way they should be said. Actor Boman Irani, along with theatre veterans Dolly and Bomi Dotiwala, has lent his voice to an audio CD, speaking the phrases out loud the way they should be said.

When a group of Parsis are done with a feast, you can expect the table to look like a “sufachat maidan.” This quintessential Parsi idiom means to make a clean sweep of a great spread, as Parsi Bol 2, Sooni Taraporevala and Meher Marfatia’s recently released compilation of Parsi Gujarati phrases explains. A Parsi’s love for food is boundless and is evident in the language they speak.

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The phrases, which have been crowd-sourced from Parsis across the world include contributors such as the celebrated western classical music conductor Zubin Mehta, make references to food almost all throughout the book. Says Marfatia, “But just collecting these phrases would have amounted to nothing without our translator Rutty Manekshaw, our biggest resource and treasure house of every word coined in our wonderfully inventive and imaginative language of Parsi Gujarati.” Whether it is a sarcastic turn of phrase such as “Papree ma gos” (meat in the vegetables) to mean relatives of dubious origins or to call out a stingy host who served too little food by saying “Duhbhee duhr ma matoo nuthee” (so small it will not fit in the left molar), the Parsis turn to food on every occasion.

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Here are a few more examples of food and word play.

‘Vukhnailee Kheechree daant eh vurgheh’
Khichri that’s overly praised can stick to the teeth
(If you praise someone too much they could disappoint)

The authors who put together Parsi Bol 2: Meher Marfatia (left), translator Rutty Manekshaw (centre) and Sooni Taraporevala (right). (Photo: Firdaus Bativala) The authors who put together Parsi Bol 2: Meher Marfatia (left), translator Rutty Manekshaw (centre) and Sooni Taraporevala (right). (Photo: Firdaus Bativala)

‘Bhujiya turai guya’
The fritters are fried
(The secrets are out)

‘Musoor ma gos tuhroh dost’
Your friend is like meat mixed in the musoor lentils
(Two friends who mix well)

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‘Ajeh toh sooka pulao’
(Today is a dry (meatless) pulao)
Dont expect much today

‘Dar ma neh dodhee ma’
In lentils and in sweet gourd
(Everywhere at once)

Parsi Bol 2, which is the second updated edition of a compilation of Parsi Gujarati phrases, has illustrations by Hemant Morparia and Farzana Cooper. Parsi Bol 2, which is the second updated edition of a compilation of Parsi Gujarati phrases, has illustrations by Hemant Morparia and Farzana Cooper.

‘Mukhai mohro’
Salt-free corn
(A dull person)

‘Musoor Pau’
Lentil bread
(An ordinary or idiotic person)

Excerpted with permission from Parsi Bol 2, compiled by Sooni Taraporevala and Meher Marfatia. Available at all leading bookstores at Rs 500 and on amazon.in and flipkart.com.

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