Sabrina’s Persian Feast Supper Club

I will put my hands up and admit I am a supper club virgin. Well, I was a supper club virgin, having been robbed of my innocence by Sabrina Ghayour. The occasion was a traditional Persian feast. Persia, one of  the ancient world’s most powerful civilisations, with the city of Babylon amongst its far reaching dominion, had a cuisine that bore similarities to its western neighbours of Syria, Turkey and the Arab nations and from the east, they had Afghanistan, India and Georgia.

Now Persia/Iran and India have another connection that is both cultural and gastronomical – the pulao or pilaf. Zoroastrians or Parsi’s as we know them in India originated in Persia, or modern day Iran, and with them, brought the pulao dish towards India where it was quickly and happily absorbed into Indian gastronomy. It’s true that the biryani originated in India through the Moghul influence, but pulao, which has its earliest references in the memoirs of Alexander the Great came from Persia. Back to the modern day, London, and away from history, momentarily, we find ourselves in Toynbee Hall in Whitechapel, where Sabrina and Simon of Ferdie’s Food Lab have been labouring all day to prepare these delicacies.

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Naan, Paneer, Sabzi
Salad Shirazi
Maast-o-Khiar
Kashk-e-Bademjan
Mirza Ghasemi

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So, it turns out that some Indian and Persian dishes share the same names – in this case Naan, Paneer, Sabzi: Flatbread, cheese (feta in this case) and raw vegetables – a traditional start to a Persian meal, and with sprigs of fresh mint and coriander to munch on, who wouldn’t be happy!The Mirza Ghasemi or smoked aubergine dip with tomato and garlic was the star dish of the night! Much akin to its Punjabi counterpart, bharta. Salad Shirazi being a good simple cucumber, tomato and onion salad to freshen up the rest of the offerings. Maast-o-Khiar being a picturesque cucumber yoghurt with pomegrante seeds and rose petals and Kashk-e-Bademjan being sauteed aubergines, caramelised onions and whey. Now the only problem with all these fine nibbles was that they just kept flowing and we just kept eating, almost forgetting there was a whole lot more to come.

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Khoresht Fesenjan
Coucou Sabzi
Khoresht Gheymeh Bademjan

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Khoresht Fesenjan was a rich chicken, walnut and pomegranate molasses stew and Cocou Sabzi was a fresh herb and barberry fritatta. Khoresht Gheymeh Bademjan was a lovely shredded lamb, aubergine and split pea stew with preserved lemons.  I’m not quite sure how I managed, but I did nibble a bit of all three, remembering there was dessert yet to come, and it turned out to be the best decision of the week!

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Almond, carrot, pistachio and orange cake, rosewater cream. There are no words to describe how incredibly sensation this cake was. Moist, full of goodness, a hint of cinnamon – a delight on all fronts. I even had some to take away for my breakfast, although it didn’t really survive the walk home – greedy greedy!

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A fabulous evening and a great way to meet people who share similar passions! Sabrina has other supper clubs lined up and details can be found on her website: www.sabrinaghayour.com

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