June 17, 2005

Persian cuisine

I’ve been thinking about Persian food, lately. A few weeks ago, we went to Zagros, a small restaurant on Davie street. The quality of the food was exceptional – the dishes that we tried were delicious.

We started with a plate of pickles (torshi), which our server (whom I suspect is the owner) cautioned us were “quite sour.” They were perfectly sour, in my opinion, and sprinkled with a variety of herbs, including dill and sumac. They came with a dish of flat, flexible bread that looked cracker-like in appearance, and a thick, minty yoghurt dip (mastokhiar).

Palle tried the chicken breast kabob with barberries, and found the chicken to be succulent and not at all dry, as chicken breast can sometimes be. Barberries (zereshk) are always a delight, little sweet-and-sour speckles of fruit, glistening like jewels in the rice pilaf. My dish was a subtle combination of boneless lamb chunks with yellow split peas (Ghaimai/Ghaimeh) in a rich, highly scented gravy with a fantastic, lip-smacking unctuousness and a lovely slightly sharp hit of lime juice. I need to learn how to make this, seriously.

The rice pilafs that accompanied our meals were made from basmati rice, but each grain was plump and tender and not at all dry, as sometimes Indian pilafs can be.

We are both eyeing other menu items and are determined to go back soon. There were a number of vegetarian and vegan items that looked intriguing, as well as a range of seafood dishes.

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