Anyways, I digress. How these tarts came into being has an interesting story. About a year ago, I was contacted by my friend Mohit Balachandran who then worked for India’s chain of Bombay inspired cafes, Sodabottleopenerwala. He wanted to promote the restaurant’s breakfast slot and thought it would be great to do a popup menu together.
Now I’ve done Parsi festivals before but never one for breakfast so I was extremely excited. Over another two cups of cold coffee, we discussed the logistics around the festival and I told him I’d get back to him with a menu. And just before I was about to leave, he casually says, “Just one thing Perzen. We thought it would be great to do an all-veg breakfast festival as it would complement what we already do here at the restaurant”. Let me tell you if this was a cartoon show you would have seen my jaw drop to the floor in fear. Instead I just casually said yes okay, that should be doable and wrapped up the meeting.
Inside, my stomach was rolling over in doubt. Breakfast was a hard enough menu to curate. And, to do it without meat and eggs but to still make it ‘Parsi’ was going to be hard if not impossible.
Over the next week my partner and I would keep brainstorming and without even realising would suggest things like Bacon Akoori or Russian Chicken Chapat before the internal bell rang in our heads and reminded us that it was supposed to be VEGETARIAN! Finally, we decided to list down all the vegetarian Parsi dishes we knew and then see if any of those could be modified for a breakfast menu. We did what any self-respecting Parsi would do in the absence of having meat and eggs. We took a vegetarian dish we loved and added white sauce, cheese, and pastry to it. And, the Ravaiya Tart was born.
The result was utterly delicious. The Ravaiya tart passed all the taste tests and was on the Sodabottleopenerwala menu as a ‘mini’ tart for two months as part of their breakfast menu. You can make this as a large tart for a lunch or dinner party using home-made shortcrust pastry. Or, you can take a shortcut and use readymade sheets as suggested in the recipe. I prefer shortcrust over puff for this particular one though any will do if you are squeezed for time. Hope you enjoy making it!
- 1 coconut
- 1 big bunch coriander
- 2 pods garlic
- 2 tbsp cumin (jeera)
- 1.5 tbsp vinegar (preferably Kolah's Sugarcane)
- 1 lemon
- 6 green chillies
- 2 tsp salt
- 1 tbsp sugar
- 20 leaves of mint
For White Sauce
- 2 tbsp butter
- 2 cup milk
- 4 tbsp heaped, flour (maida)
- 50 ml oil
- 0.5 tsp garlic paste
- 0.5 tsp crushed dried thyme
- 0.5 tsp chilli flakes
- salt to taste
- 2 big eggplants, sliced
- 200 gram processed cheese
- handful of breadcrumbs
- 1 sheet, shortcrust or puff pastry as per preference
- oil for chargrilling the eggplants
- salt to taste
- Take all the ingredients except for the sugar, lemon & vinegar and blend together with just enough water in the mixer-grinder. You want a thick chutney that you could slather onto a sandwich. If it gets too watery, add more coconut.
- Once the chutney is smoothly grinder, add in the vinegar, sugar and lemon. You want the chutney to have a nice sweet-sour balance so you may need to increase the ingredients based on how strong your vinegar is.
- Once its made, store in the refrigerator until required.
- In a pan, add the butter and oil. Once melted, add in the flour. Ensure that the flour cooks so allow this mixture to simmer on slow for a bit.
- Add in the milk and all the other ingredients to form a smooth sauce. You can use this not only for this tart but for all other pie recipes too which call for a white sauce.
- Cut the eggplants into thick rounds. Season with salt and oil. Chargrill on a pan until almost cooked.
- Spread some butter on your tart shell. Layer the pastry into it and prick it with a fork. Bake in the oven for 10 - 12 minutes on 180 WITHOUT any filling to ensure the pastry at the bottom cooks and does not become soggy. If you're using puff, do the same thing but at a higher temperature of about 200 degrees.
- Once the pastry is ready, fill the tart with alternating layers of chutney, white sauce and eggplants.
- Top with cheese and breadcrumbs. Bake in the oven at 180 degrees for about 15 - 20 minutes or until golden brown.