After spending a week in Iran waaaaaay back in 2004 on a brief work assignment, I fell in love with Persian cuisine, and have since taken any opportunity to try any renditions that sound suitably authentic.
So when the feisty Sabrina Ghayour included her native Persian cuisine in her supperclub menu lineup, I jumped as if caller ID was showing a familiar name, one associated with a brief, faraway, long ago, but nonetheless torrid fling.
Not that this caused any fluttery anxiety when the evening rolled around. Sabrina's hearty homey Persian cooking felt like a big bear hug from a favourite slightly batty relative. Familiar yet just a touch edgy, reassuring yet giving little allowance for complacency.
In short, downright enjoyable. Two of my dinner companions had never tried Persian cuisine until last Tuesday (6 Dec), and I'm mighty pleased this was the introduction they got.
Starters. The irresistable trap in any middle eastern meal. Usually so delicious you just keep on eating until you are sensibly full. And then the mains arrive. *Facepalm* I challenge you to pace yourself appropriately given the following:
Maast-o-khiar: Yoghurt and cucumber with mint, rose petals and pomergranate seeds. Gorgeous.
Mirza Ghasemi: The orange glop on the left is smoked aubergine dip with tomato and garlic. This was both Babs's and my favourite dish of the evening. Wonderfully smoky, silky, sweet and tart. Hm. We seem to have drifted back into fling imagery...
Salad Shirazi: Cucumber, tomato and onion salad with a lemon dressing. Refreshing, but admittedly not anything overly exotic or exciting.
Kashk-e-Bademjan: Sauteed aubergine, caramelised onion and whey. Possibly my least favourite dish of the evening. The whey, which had neither the familiar rich silkiness of cream nor gentle tartness of yoghurt, was too unfamiliar a taste and texture for me personally.
All to be mopped up and scarfed down with flatbread, along with a mix of fresh herbs, radishes, walnuts and feta cheese -- staple opening acts at any Persian table.
And now to the mains (Oof. Make space, tummy, dammit...)
Khoresht Gheymeh Bademjan: Incredibly tender lamb, aubergine and split pea stew with preserved lemons. Love it that we've managed to have aubergine 3 ways in 1 meal!
Khoresht Fesenjan: Chicken, walnut and pomegranate molasses stew. Very fragrant and pleasantly sweet-sour. After I was way past the point of sensibly full I still couldn't resist spooning another bit of gravy onto a bit of rice for that one last mouthful for the road...
Coucou Sabzi: Mixed fresh herb and barberry frittata. My table got into a discussion about what barberries were. Based on hazy memories from meals in Iran I said they were little sour berries, often found in Persian rice dishes. Thankfully, I don't have to eat my words, at least this time!
for those of you who are curious enough to try this at home, I managed to find Sabrina's recipe for coucou sabzi online. Wahey!
Silly gluttonous me, my brain was so food-addled by this point that I forgot to take a photo of dessert: Almond, carrot, pistachio and orange cake, with rosewater cream. Or maybe it was just too yummy and I ate it too fast.
All of the above, including some stellar hosting by Sabrina's friend and soon-to-be Leiths acoltye Hanna and fabulous table chat, cost £40. Definitely on the steep end of supperclubs prices, but understandable when Sabrina was running these suppers at Toynbee Hall. Hopefully if she continues to host more suppers in the new year, she'll be able to find locations that will make the overall meal a bit more affordable for punters. I certainly had no regrets about spending the money on this dinner, but £40 would naturally limit my ability to be a repeat customer in the new year.
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Disclosure: I'm the founder of Edible Experiences. Unless otherwise stated I attend events as a paying guest.