London may not have the large Iranian expat population of LA (parts of which are even nicknamed Tehrangeles) or Toronto, but there are dozens of restaurants competing with each other to offer the most authentic Persian cuisine. Here are some of the best.
5 Hereford Road, London W2 4AB, UK
+44 207 229 9398
Hafez is ideal for the Iranian food novice. The vast menu has all the classics: bademjan (Iranian version of baba ganoush), a traditional thick barley soup called ash, kidney bean and lamb stew, chicken in walnut and pomegranate sauce, and the perennially popular lamb or chicken kebabs, which are accompanied by mammoth portions of saffron rice.
Staff are attentive and keep replenishing dishes of olives and bread for free. Desserts include saffron ice cream, falloudeh (frozen vermicelli noodles in rose water), and of course baklava. Try the latter with a pot of cinnamon tea. A three course meal including wine comes to around £30 a head.
70 Askew Road, London W12 9BJ, UK
+44 208 834 4888 www.sufirestaurant.com
This west London restaurant has an alcove near the entrance containing a huge breadmaker. A member of staff intermittently fetches fresh batches of bread, the enticing smell of which fills the eatery and the nostrils of hungry diners.
Popular dishes are featured, including fried chicken livers with mushrooms, some very garlicky homemade hummus, and a range of stews. Kebabs are a favourite here, particularly the boneless chicken or mixed lamb, which consists of a skewer of minced lamb and another of tender lamb pieces, sprinkled with the powdered lemony herb somagh. Kebabs come with huge portions of rice, and priced at around £10 - £12 they represent good value for money.
Left is Khoresh ghaimeh - split yellow peas, diced lamb and lime cooked in a Special tomato sauce garnished with fried potato. Right is Chello kebab Sufi - skewer chargrilled diced tender baby lamb fillet and chicken fillet served with grilled tomato, grilled peppers and onions, image source: www.sufirestaurant.com
64 Alderman's Hill, London N13 4PP, UK
+44 208 920 9744 www.deeyar.co.uk
Deeyar, meaning 'home' in Farsi, is run by a husband, wife and son team. While the husband works on the restaurant floor, his wife and son take care of the cooking. The food featured here is mostly from the south of Iran.
Try the zereshk polo which is rice with barberries and chicken, barberries being a type of bitter sweet berry that colours the rice red. At £8 for this filling dish you really can't go wrong. Other rice dishes and stews are priced around £6 - £8.
54 Ballards Lane, London N3 2BU, UK
+44 208 346 5592
While its appearance is unprepossessing from the outside, Shiraz in North London has been delivering consistently good food for a number of years. A depiction of the city of Shiraz adorns the ceiling and Iranian music tends to play in the background.
Once again, lamb, chicken and aubergine dishes feature heavily on the menu, as well as salad olivieh, which is traditionally eaten on special occasions. The rose water ice cream is highly recommended, along with the syrupy bamieh - note that the latter treat is definitely for those with a sweet tooth.
Mixed kebab with saffron rice
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