Why We Need More Persian Food
Well, because it's delicious.
But beyond that, because it has such an interesting blend of delicate flavours, whether sweet or savoury, that seamlessly blend with blunt tastes, like meat blackened over open flames. Take, for example, the care and consideration that goes into preparing anything with saffron, and then combining it with mouthwatering, charred lamb-shank and a blackened tomato.
Over the next few posts I'll detail some awesome GTHA based restaurateurs who are looking to bring Persian food deservedly more into the mainstream (where they feel it currently isn't), and doing so with either traditional or nontraditional approaches.
Part 1: the Traditional.
This delicacy of flavours I describe above is what Todd, of Steeltown Chowdown, and I were commenting on (in addition to how we're intimidated by trying to cook with saffron) during a meal we recently enjoyed at Hamilton's new, authentic Persian and Afghan restaurant, Kebabish.
So, let me ask you.
When was the last time you had a really good, savoury koobideh, or blackened on the outside, moist on the inside spiced to perfection joojeh?
How about topping off a perfectly satisfying meal with warm Afghan tea and Turkish delight, aiding digestion with a millennia worth of culinary expertise and tradition?
For many living, working and eating in the Hamilton area, it probably wasn't recently. But that's exactly what brothers Dawood and Haider, with their recently opened Kebabish (December 2018), are hoping to make more regular for our south of the GTA tastebuds.
Arriving in Hamilton in 2005, care of Dubai, the young brothers have an eye, mind, and taste for good middle eastern flavour. Their family does, after all, own the awesome Eastern Food Market on Upper Wentworth, across from Limeridge Mall.
Of course, owning and operating a market doesn't IMMEDIATELY translate to running a restaurant (let alone the two additional locations they plan to open within the year), but for them it does translate directly with an understanding of good flavours and the need to provide nice, sit down restaurants in which to experiment with and experience such tastes. Which is one of the main reasons they opened Kebabish.
To the above point, the brothers expressed that south of Mississauga, options for such restaurants, for parties ranging from intimate couples to a family affairs, and serving traditional Persian food was rare. There certainly are some, and some offering sit down, but those are few and far between, and most are predominantly take-out.
This is exactly where Kebabish comes in, a traditional, fully Halal restaurant offering authentic Afghan and Persian cuisine. Of course, going traditional is one thing, as they seek to do with the decor (from the ceiling lamps to the takht), but traditional Halal of course requires a more stringent adherence in food prep and serving, which they also follow. All of which owes to a fresh, new, cultural dining experience that Hamilton, if not most places south of Mississauga, has been missing.
And as I state above, we'll have even more opportunity to enjoy this experience across the city, as the super ambitious brothers (one still a full-time student at UofT's Rotman School of Business, the other a recent grad), look to open two more locations in the coming year.
See below for what Todd and I tried. Also, for a guaranteed table, earlier is better, traditional Persian dinner times start much later than most western cultures, so you may be out of luck around 9pm.
Oddly, I've only ever had vegetable based pakora, so this was a fun and delicious surprise.
Grilled Lamb Shank
This was grilled to perfection and fall off the bone, also that blackened tomato? Why am I not eating those more?
Koobideh (beef kebab) and Joojeh (chicken kebab) with Saffron Rice
I've always enjoyed koobideh, but that joojeh stole the show, so savoury and juicy, and combined with the delicate flavour of the saffron rice? Amazing.
Afghan Tea and Turkish Delight
A simple, yet ornate dessert in both look and taste. we also were served Kheer, which if you don't know what that is, remember hating rice-pudding when you were a kid? Well imagine you never had it, and instead you had Kheer. You now love rice-pudding.