Authentic Persian Restaurant in Oman: Persepolis

T-Mag Thursday 03/March/2016 13:13 PM
By: Times News Service
Authentic Persian Restaurant in Oman: Persepolis

Fertile valleys are coloured with the red and orange of pomegranate and citrus blossoms, fields run pink with roses, vines hang low with grapes waiting to be pressed into vinegar, and green waves of herbs fill backyards with their intoxicating scents in this ancient land. Iran has a rich culinary heritage that reflects both the reach of the Persian empire, with ingredients brought back from all over the globe, as well as the vibrant flavours of its local agricultural bounty.

Persian cuisine celebrates and showcases the natural taste of the ingredients being used, and with native ingredients like caviar, pomegranate, and wild mint, it’s easy to see why. Spicing is subtle, often consisting of only salt, pepper, and its most famous export, saffron, and regardless of the method of cooking, all the components are handled with veneration.

Most people here in Muscat and the GCC are familiar with Persian grills — tender yoghurt-marinated skewers of lamb or chicken; tart, dried lime-spiked lamb chops; spiced ground chelo and koobideh kebabs, and that’s about it. While Persian grills are delicious and a major part of the culinary culture of Iran, there is a whole world of other flavours to explore: Pickled vegetables, called torshe; Persian stews, called khoresh; fresh baked flatbreads served with fresh herbs and cheese; thick ash soups; and gorgeous rice dishes, from the simple saffron and butter chelo, to all manner polo pilafs that are enhanced with fruit, nuts, fresh herbs, and legumes.

Arguably the most famous Persian dish is a pomegranate and walnut-paste stewed chicken called fesenjan. This dish should be present on any Persian menu and will almost always be served at Iranian special events and weddings. The first known recipe for fesenjan was found amidst the ruins of the historic site of Persepolis, the ancient capital of the Achaemenid Empire, on a cuneiform tablet dating back to around 515 BC. Given this historic tidbit, the owners of Persepolis restaurant in Madinat Sultan Qaboos couldn’t have come up with a more appropriate name for their grand monument to Iranian cuisine.

The interior of the massive restaurant is festooned with columns and artwork meant to evoke the carvings of the historic place, and the overall feel is grand and understated. It seemed to me a great place to have a large gathering for lunch or dinner, as there is good spacing between the tables that make each one feel private and intimate.

The team at the restaurant all hail from the northeastern city of Mashhad, and they have taken care to include some Mashhadi specialities on their menu alongside pan-Persian classics, like fesenjan, kashke bademjan (a savoury eggplant and whey dip), saffron rice, and, of course, Iranian grilled kebabs.

Though the restaurant also offers some standard Arabian and continental dishes, stick to the Iranian foods and take advantage of the opportunity to indulge in a culinary introduction to the complex foods of Persia, right here in Muscat.

The Persepolis Menu Decoded
1. Shishlik
A specialty of the northern city of Mashhad, these grilled lamb chops are often seasoned with a pinch of ground black (dried) lime in addition to salt and pepper.
OMR 10.700

2. Dizi
Pure Iranian comfort food, lamb, beans, potato, onions ,and tomatoes are simmered together in an earthenware pot until the meat melts into the deep red broth. The pot is served with a plate of raw onions, fresh mint, chilli, and bread, along with a metal masher and side plate. The meat and potato are removed and mashed, while the broth is poured over torn pieces of bread. The meaty mash can be added back into the broth or scooped up with bread and mint and dunked.
OMR 6.500

3. Mint Doogh
This Iranian laban is saltier than the Arabian version of the yoghurt drink. At Persepolis they mix it with fresh mint to make an especially refreshing beverage.
OMR 0.800

4. Shirin Pulao
Also called, jewelled rice, this sweet pulao is a festival of colours and flavours, thanks to layers of candied orange peel, tart barberries, nuts, shredded carrot, saffron, and tender pieces of chicken. It is a popular wedding fare as the sweet taste represents the sweet life the couple will enjoy together.
OMR 5.800

5. Ghourmeh Sabzi
This slow cooked stew of thick chunks of lamb simmered with hearty spinach, kidney beans, fenugreek, and dried limes, has a wonderful tart, bitter flavour and is delicious served over saffron rice or scooped up with Persian flatbread.
OMR 5.100

6. Mahiche
Mashhad-style lamb shank is simmered with saffron, onion, and garlic until meltingly tender and served with a fava bean and dill-laced rice.
OMR 6.900

7. Chelo & Polo:
Persian rices Chelo, a simple basmati rice cooked with saffron and butter, is a staple of Iranian cuisine. Rices to which other ingredients are called polo, and two of the most popular are the tart, barberry studded zereshk polo, and baghali polo, which is made with fava beans and fresh dill. Persian rice is cooked with a bit of oil in the pot, which helps keep the grains separate, and in the cooking process, a crunchy, delicious crust forms on the bottom of the pot. Called tahdig, it is served separately as a side dish or snack. Rice comes with the main dishes and kebabs. Tahdig is available for
OMR 1.800

8. Torshe Khiar Shoor
Torshe literally means “sour” but it also is the term for pickled vegetables, like these cucumbers, which are an essential component of most meals in Iran.
*complimentary with meal

9. Ash Reshteh
The most famous Iranian soup, beloved all over the world, this soup brings together noodles, kidney beans or chickpeas, fresh herbs, and spinach and is topped with fried onions and mint or mint oil. Pat of the distinctive flavour comes from the final dollop of keshk, a dried yoghurt product.
OMR 1.900

10. Mirza Ghasemi
A popular northern Iranian dip made from roasted eggplant mashed with raw garlic, which gives it a bit of a spicy bite, tomatoes or tomato paste, and seasoned with turmeric, salt, and pepper.
OMR 2.200

11. Mast o Khiar
A simple condiment of cucumbers, mint, and yoghurt, this dish is a great accompaniment to any dish you order.
OMR 1.800

12. Sabzi Khordan:
Persian Bread, herbs & cheese Sabzi khordan are edible herbs like mint, cilantro, scallions, rocket, and others as seasonally available. These fresh greens are served with a mild, semi-soft, salty feta-style cheese and are eaten with Persian flatbread. Tear off a piece of chewy bread, smear it with the cheese, pile on your herbs and enjoy.
*complimentary with meal

13. Shirazi Salad
This simple chopped salad is comprised of chopped tomato, cucumber, onion, mint, and lemon.
OMR 2.100

14. Persepolis Salad
The Persepolis house salad makes use of the native Iranian ingredient, pomegranate, with a wonderful pomegranate vinaigrette dressing, over shredded carrots, sliced tomatoes, cucumbers, roquette, and a sprinkle of pomegranate seeds.
OMR 2.300

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