Delicacies from Iran

The iconic seven-kitchen restaurant at DLF Emporio, Vasant Kunj, now has another cuisine on its menu. The flavours of Iran include a lot of seafood, besides the popular chicken and lamb

Think Iran and to my mind comes the movie Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time: cabanas, sheer curtains and delightful platters. Well, the prince is not here in India, but Chef Feridoun Sohrabi Shahsavar is. And we go to experience delightful platters one evening at this luxury restaurant.

In its 10-year journey, Set’z has been synonymous with quality and introduction of new flavours. The seven live kitchens here include North Indian, coastal Indian, Arabic, Thai, Chinese, Italian and Japanese cuisines. And like every year, there’s something new in the kitchen—Iranian cuisine.

With 25 dishes curated by Chef Feridoun, there’s a good mix of vegetarian and non-vegetarian delights. The erstwhile kingdom of Persia is known for saffron, rice, roses, dried lime, cinnamon and nuts. Thanks to the Mughals, India is quite used to these flavours and some of them have found their way into our daily lives as well. But unlike the hot and spicy Indian masalas, in Iranian cuisine the emphasis is on fragrances and natural flavours.

Chef Feridoun likes using white and black pepper powders to enhance the natural juices but in moderation. With an experience of over 20 years, he has worked in Dubai, Bahrain, America and more. “India is my ninth country for work. As we have many guests from Iran and Arabia, we have kept all the popular dishes on the menu.”

Coming back to our table, we begin the meal with a Mixed Kabab platter fit for a king—lamb chops, prawns, chicken and hamour fillet fish. Barbeques and grills are popular in Iran. These come with three kinds of rice and the Chef’s special gravy. The platter certainly goes well with beer and a vodka-based cocktail—Adam & Eve. The lamb chop simply melts in the mouth, easy to cut and easy to chew. The prawns are simply to die for. But my companion does not eat seafood and takes frugal bites of the chicken and fish. Nothing about these kebabs is spicy and the cooking method ensures that they don’t dry up and lose the natural juices. It’s truly a big plate, so can go down with three or four people with drinks easily.

In the vegetarian, we try Kashko Bademjan. This is fried eggplant with sundried yogurt and mint sauce. I say dig into this for it will redefine the way you eat brinjal. Something similar to the bharta cooked in most north Indian homes, the yogurt and sauce give it a unique smokey flavour.

No meal in Iran is complete without rice and our main dish was Maygo Polo—simply put, this is  made of basmati rice, prawns, bell peppers, onions and tomatoes. What’s good about this dish is that the prawns are soft and the rice is softer, mixed with the Chef’s special gravy. It takes quite a while to finish this plate between two people.

You can’t leave without trying the desserts, which are the highlight of this meal. The Halva takes centrestage in the dessert options. Completely unlike the Indian halwa, this one does not ooze ghee. It is on the dry side, not heavily sweet, has rose water and pistachios and tastes really amazing. If you like fruit and a low-calorie end to the meal, then Poreghal with orange slices, pomegranate seeds and rose water is for you. And if you want a nutty note, then opt for Sholleh Zard. This is an almond rice pudding with pistachios, saffron and the Chef sprinkles cinnamon powder, my favourite spice, on it.

Make it a slow meal for this does not leave you feeling heavy and there’s ample reason to not rush your dining experience. The bar lounge here has innovative beverages, finger foods, a walk-in wine cellar with more than 1,600 bottles and international music. On a bright, starry evening, you could opt to dine with bae at the terrace. With good service and fresh food, it’s surely the space for pleasing the palate.

Price: Rs 2,800 plus taxes for two people (without alcohol)

Lunch: 12 noon – 4 pm

Tea: 4-7 pm

Dinner: 7pm to 1 am

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