Fresh, Fun Food Phrases

20 May

Pardon my alliteration allergy as it gets the better of me again: a deadly, devastating disease that doggedly drives one dotty.  Today, because it’s my favorite day of the work week, because it’s the farthest day from Monday, and because Tuesday’s child is full of grace (at least in her insane imagination), I bring to you a fresh platterful of Parsi food phrases!

Ready? Set? Go!

Bhujelo papad nai bhongi sake“, cannot break a roasted papad.

Pronounced: bhoo-jay-low paa-pud nuh-i bhawn-gee suh-kay

Everybody who knows what a papad is (and for those who don’t, it is a very thin, crisp, disc-shaped cracker made of dough and eaten as an accompaniment with Indian meals) knows that a roasted papad is among the most brittle, fragile things in the world. I routinely break mine even before roasting, but ignore The Resident Klutz.

So bhujelo papad nai bhongi sake refers to a person so lazy and/or inept that they are unable to break even a roasted papad.

Give it a try: Perin Kaki won’t be able to manage a house full of guests. Evan toh bhujelo papad nai bhongi sake! (By the way, true story. May Perin Kaki get lots of ready-roasted papad, wherever she is in the firmament.)


Daar bari gayi“, someone whose dal is burnt, i.e. someone who is miffed/bitter/in a huff.

Pronounced: Daa-r buh-ree guh-ee

Wouldn’t you be pissed off if the dal (lentils for non-desis) you so lovingly stirred and simmered, all the while inhaling the aroma of garlic and turmeric and ghee, dreaming of topping it with crispy onions and garlic, fused with the bottom of your tureen and decided to char? Similarly, someone whose “daar bari gayi” is in a foul mood for a multitude of reasons not necessarily associated with the universal Indian lentil!

For example: Khursheed ni dar bari gayi because Jimmy didn’t get her jewelry on their anniversary.


Karakri biscuit“, a person as brittle/fragile as a biscuit.

Pronounced: Kuh-raak-ree biscuit

Usually used to refer to someone whose health is fragile/prone to illness, likely to crumble easily like a cookie/biscuit (the English/Indian sort–not the flaky, madly yummy American kind!)

This is how we say it: Arre no no! Don’t offer her street food, she’s a karakri biscuit as it is!

Or: These NRIs are such karakri biscuits-the smog bothers them, the food affects them, and they routinely pass out in the heat!


Chhamna jeva pug“, feet like a pomfret.

Pronounced: Chhum-naa jay-vaa pug (like hug)

Before you start visualizing feet growing gills and reeking of fishy smells, let me assure you that “chhumna jeva pug” merely means flat, wide feet– shaped like a pomfret, the Parsi National Fish. Growing up, I had a friend whose mother would constantly point out her “chhumna jeva pug”, to which she’d retort that chhumna (pomfrets) didn’t have any pug (feet)!

Get your Parsipanu on: Where do I find shoes in my brother’s size??? He has such chhumna jeva pug!


Ghotala-ma-goas“, bungle in meat.

This good old favorite has already been shared on the blog! Go read about it!


Kaando khai toh gaando thai“, the one who eats onions goes mad/crazy.

Pronounced: Kaan-doh khaa-y toh (like toe) gaan-doh thaa-y

I grew up hearing Adi Kaka chant this line with great relish (no pun intended) each time someone at the dinner table asked for the kachubar (Parsi onion salad). I don’t think it is any particular warning against onions  as much as it is a fun bunch of words that rhyme. And given that the lot of us are dotty anyway, this beautiful bulb couldn’t possibly be more crazy-inducing.

Still, chant it with me: Could you pass the kachubar, please?

Sure, but remember, kaando khai toh gaando thai!


Did you get your bellyful of Parsipanu? 🙂 Which phrase is your favorite? Does your native language have interesting food metaphors? I’m listening!

10 Responses to “Fresh, Fun Food Phrases”

  1. oncealurker May 21, 2014 at 4:47 am #

    Hah! I have grown up (and very nearly grown old) thinking that was “Dahr bhari gayi” (Gums have filled up / Gums are swollen). It always brought to mind a vivid image of a puffed face with a set, unopenable jaw with a pout akin to that of a very miffed person in a godawful grumpy mood. Wouldn’t you be like that if your gums had really swollen up.
    But I’ll bow to your better knowledge of Parsipanu; not having grown up in Mumbai leaves a void in one’s ken of everything Parsi. Love your Parsipanu blogs; keep them coming!
    By the way, my keen eye for marginal errors tells me that “Ghotala-ma-goas“, may translate better as meat-in-a-bungle.

  2. Aunty G May 22, 2014 at 9:43 pm #

    I adore alliteration also
    But’ve banished bhujelo boomlo
    Daar bari gai
    Also envy hai
    And chamna-pug, in our home, is gher-no-ghambaar-ghotalo!

  3. Aneela Z May 24, 2014 at 5:23 pm #

    SPEENA MOOLAI.. white radish.. Mostly it’s used as an instruction by your Nan when you are going for a bath ..” Emerge when you have scrubbed yourself into a white radish ”
    POZEY OONGDE GHAT.. Fat as a nose ( All Pashtuns have fat noses; this comment will be wasted on a Kashmiri).. This comment may be used in the kitchen , you are fashioning a kebab or a dumpling, your grandmother will tick you off as you are making them too big and unwieldly, just like your nose ( Pretty mean of her especially as you have just emerged from your bath speena MOOLAI)

  4. Null Pointer May 26, 2014 at 8:42 am #

    As someone who is perpetually daar bari gayi, I prefer the subtle reference to flatulent properties of lentils as opposed to blatant suggestions to get a stick out of my derrière.

  5. myfourboysandme June 1, 2014 at 9:59 am #

    Loved this post!

  6. Orange Jammies June 3, 2014 at 10:33 am #

    oncealurker: Hello! 😀 So good to hear from you. Now I’m intrigued and must find out if it is indeed “Dahr bari gayi” and I’ve been getting it wrong all these years! Love your eye for marginal errors. 🙂 I was trying to keep the translation direct, but you may have a point.

    Aunty G: I know “gher no ghambar”, what is the “ghotalo” doing at the end?? 🙂

    Aneela: LOVE those! Especially pozey oongde ghat–can totally relate. :mrgreen:

    Null Pointer: NP! You live. 🙂 There, there. Eat a giant meal of kolmi na curry chawal. Then you daar won’t be quite so burned.

    myfourboysandme: 😀 Sending all of you bear hugs.

  7. faredoon May 12, 2015 at 6:18 pm #

    A bit late in posting, but this one just came to mind:

    “Dayaa ni mai daakan”

    Translated: “Mercy’s mother is a witch”

    Usually said when someone who has been the object of your mercy, wrongs you instead of returning the favour.

  8. faredoon May 12, 2015 at 6:30 pm #

    Another classic (sorry for the spam-ish consecutive posts. I thought I’d post before I forget):

    “Gaan vaghar no loto”

    Translated: A buttock-less (i.e. bottom-dented) vessel.

    Usually used to refer to an indecisive person. The imagery comes from the fact that the vessel (lota) cannot be placed in a resting position in one go if it’s dented at the bottom.

  9. Orange Jammies June 10, 2015 at 1:40 pm #

    faredoon: Know and love both, and thankful that neither is food-related. 😉 Share some others?


  1. Know Navroz & partake of Parsi bhonu | Culinary Adventures of The Spice Scribe - August 11, 2014

    […] Orange Jammies’ guide to yet more Parsi pronunciations. […]

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