This post was written while I travel in Iran.
One night, a few weeks ago, my friends and I ended up eating dinner at a hopping (not fancy but well-known and well-loved) self-service restaurant in the heart of Tehran. Picture a huge salon with a seemingly endless aromatic array of all types of Persian food (you name it) which could be had simply by pointing – a dazzling and dizzying and enticing spectacle for sure but I nevertheless managed to keep my wits about me and remained mindful of taking a few pix for posterity.
This particular gentleman, the head chef, was (as you can see) quite agreeable regarding having his picture taken.
But this other assistant chef/server is giving me a scorching look like nobody’s business. Although, if I squint, I find his expression oddly enigmatic. A Persian Mona Lisa!
Now a note of warning: if you ever make it to Tehran, do not go to this restaurant when you are very hungry. Because you will inevitably pile your tray with a tremendous amount of food.
But they all look so delicious! Must. Eat. Everything!
And pile up the food we did! There were only 3 of us for dinner but we got enough food to feed a good number more.
And because I know you want to know, I am duty bound to tell you what’s what in each tray.
Top left tray contained the following goodies: mixed veggies; torshi (Persian pickles); fava bean rice (baghali polo) with lamb shank (mahicheh); and a can of an obscure beverage called Coca Cola.
Top right tray contained: ash reshteh, a big salad; yogurt with raisins, cucumber and walnuts; and an entree made with tongue (khorakeh zaban.)
As for this bottom tray, it belonged to a greedy but very happy person, and I will let you guess who that person may have been.
Let’s identify the delicious edibles clockwise from the top: a bowl of spinach and yogurt; a beautiful cherry rice with the thickest most wonderful tadig you could possibly want; a tray with a combo of jojeh kabab (grilled chickent) and kabab ‘e barg (lamb kabab); and for good measure — lest this greedy person might not be entirely sated afterall — also a bowl of delicious kashk bademjoon (eggplant and whey dish) topped with fried, dried mint.
It all looked good and all of it tasted from delicious to very delicious, save for the jojeh and lamb kabab, which were lackluster, alas, and ended up as fare for the cute and coddled family pet.
And that, my friends, was just one night and one meal.
I have not even begun to tell you about the marvels of the various types of Iranian bread. Like this “barbarri” bread.
But that is a topic worthy of its own post, so on that mouth-watering note, I take my leave. And because someone (hi Tina!) asked in the comments of an earlier post (which I’m sorry but I really can’t respond to the comments for various reasons): I DO still fit in my clothes. It is a true Persian miracle! (Also, if you missed it, do check out the earliest Lusty Pictorial Tour of Food in Iran.)