Parsis are known to largely be a food-and meat-loving community with our iconic dish being the not so humble Dhansak which everyone knows about of course. However, what’s not as commonly known is our passion for “ramakras”. While the term “ramakra” literally translates to toys, for us Bawas it actually means the addition of a meaty accompaniment such as mutton or cutlets to practically anything from curries to vegetables.
When I recently visited New Zealand, I met my mum’s friend Jasmine aunty who happened to mention her family’s favourite dish was French Beans ma Gosht or as we Parsis call it ‘Far-ench bean ma gosht’. It was the first dish she learned to cook back when she was fifteen and newly experimenting in the kitchen. As always, nobody in the house wanted to taste her dish for the fear that it would be unpalatable. It was only when her brother in law came late at night that he became the scapegoat and proclaimed the dish to be a success.
Later, when she got married, the French Beans ma Gosht lay at the wayside and she always made Parsi vegetarian dishes without the traditional ‘ramakras’. But, when her kids came along like true Parsi kids they refused to eat any vegetables. So, like a good Bawi Bride she started adding ‘ramakras’ in the form of gosht to her food to con them into eating their 5+ a day. The addition of the gosht worked a treat and now as teenagers her kids love eating her French Beans any day of the week – so long as it has the ‘ramakras’ of course!
So, without further ado here’s Jasmine aunty’s signature dish for all of you to whip up at home. Ingredients at the bottom as always!
To start, wash the french beans and thinly slice them diagonally. Also, chop the mutton pieces into small 2 inch pieces and wash it thoroughly
Next, in a cooker heat up some oil and sauté 2.5 onions until pink in the ginger-garlic paste. Add in the masalas at this stage as well
Once the aroma of the spices starts wafting towards the family room its time to add in the tomatoes and stir well. Let the tomatoes bubble away for 5 minutes until some of the moisture evaporates
Now add in the mutton. Once it’s coated in the spice mixture, add the other 1/2 onion that had been set aside. Let the meat brown for another 5 minutes
Finally, add in the french beans and the potatoes and stir well. Add in enough water to make a little gravy but not so it becomes watery.
Close the pressure cooker and let it cook until the meat is tender. For those Parsis who still cook by the whistle, let it cook for 2 whistles and another 10 minutes on slow.
Once it’s done, serve hot with roti
To make enough for four you will need:
3 onions chopped finely
500 gms french beans sliced thinly
1 tbsp ginger garlic paste
1 tbsp oil
250 gm diced mutton pieces, preferably boneless
3 fresh tomatoes chopped finely or 1/2 can of chopped tomatoes
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
2 tsp dhana-jeera powder
2 tsp sambhar powder
1/2 tsp chilli powder
Salt to taste
2 small potatoes or sweet potatoes chopped in small pieces