We are all familiar with kebabs, the skewered grilled meats served at many food courts, restaurants, and street stands. While most of us might believe the kebab is a Middle Eastern food, it actually originated in Persia (now Iran).
So what distinguishes Persian cuisine from other Middle Eastern dishes? The simple answer lies in the seasonings and spices. Persian food consists of more saffron-based dishes, and fruits are used extensively both on their own or as seasoning. Middle Eastern food is more often flavored with mint, coriander, parsley and Zatar (a wild thyme herb blend). Middle Eastern food also uses more olive oils, while Persian cuisine uses butter.
“There are some spices that we can’t get in Jakarta. To get the authentic Persian flavors, we ship them exclusively from Iran,” says Alex, the Iranian co-owner of Royal Persian. Ingredients such as baghali (broad beans), zaferan (saffron), and zereshk (dried berry-type fruit) are expensive and not available in the city.
“You have to understand that Persian and Middle Eastern are entirely different cultures,” he adds.
Alex has been living in Jakarta for more than five years. In 2010, he and his partner Hooman, also from Iran, decided to open Royal Persian in Kemang. “I wanted to introduce Persian food to the friendly Indonesian people who are always eager and curious to try new food,” Hooman explains.
“I believe that we are the only restaurant that serves Persian food in the city,” Alex adds.
Located on Jl. Kemang Raya, the spacious restaurant has an outdoor terrace and can easily accommodate 100 guests. Adorned with beautiful Persian rugs and traditional art works, the interior is cozy and dimly lit, with Persian music to set the mood.
Chef Esmai and Assistant-Chef Shahram, both from Iran, ensure guests will have an authentic Persian culinary experience. The menu naturally features various kebab dishes, served in generous portions and priced very reasonably, starting from Rp 50,000. Try the popular koobideh kebab which is made from ground lamb mixed with parsley, chopped onion, turmeric and seasoning, served with roasted tomato. Or the bakhtiari kebab, a combination of lamb, beef tenderloin and chicken breast. There are also the barg kebab, chenjeh kebab, and soltani kebab, as well as tasty chicken or fish kebabs.
If you prefer a non-kebab dish, there is the shishlik, one of the most lavish dishes in Iranian cuisine, which is lamb chops cut from the rack, marinated in a saffron-scented mixture of yogurt, garlic, and lemon juice. Along with the entrees, you can order naan breads or various types of rice, including baghali rice, barberry rice and biryani rice.
To finish off your meal, try the sholezard, a very sweet and delicious Iranian dessert made of saffron, sugar and rice.
Every guest is offered a complimentary traditional drink, khak shir (earth milk), a delicious and refreshing drink, served cold and topped with brown flower seeds. If you want to try something different, doogh is another traditional drink, a combination of yogurt, carbonated water, cucumber, and dried mint. For tea drinkers, try the Persian tea, brewed the Persian way and ideal for enjoying with shisha, which is offered for guests to enjoy in both the indoor and outdoor dining areas.
Royal Persian also serves a wide selection of Indian and Indonesian food.
Iwan Putuhena Reports
Original article was published in Kemang Buzz
Pictures by Dissy for Kemang Buzz
Royal PersianJl. Kemang Raya No. 27, Tel: 021 719 4242, 021 719 4343 Opening Hours: Monday – Sunday: 10.00 am – 02.00 am