Most every city these days includes at least a couple of Middle Eastern restaurants serving items like falafel, hummus, shawarma – food of Arabic speaking countries. Less on the radar though are Iranian AKA Persian restaurants. So when my Persian friend Amir came to town I wanted to check out a restaurant called Ravagh. Tucked away on an unassuming street the restaurant was dim but welcoming. The walls display pictures of beautiful places in Iran like Shiraz and of course Tehran.
We ordered two appetizers on Amir’s suggestion. The first, Must Masir, is yogurt with shallots. The yogurt was plain, sour yogurt. The shallots while creating acidity seemed out of place. Quietly I wondered if this dish was created by accident.
Line cook 1: Whoops! The shallots fell in the yogurt!
Expediter: We’re busy. Lets just serve it.
The second, much more familiar appetizer was Babaganoush. The Ravagh version is actually made with mayo in addition to eggplant and tahini. While it did give us pause, it did make it extra creamy tasting.
Reading “New Persian Kitchen” by Louisa Shafia, I knew immediately what I wanted to get for an entree. Unlike say, Indian food which readily loves spice, Persians are more appreciative of sour flavors. Case in point, fesenjan. This lamb dish’s sauce is made with pomegranate syrup and walnuts. It’s not the most photo ready food but it is unique. After trying it, Amir commented that it’s not as tart as they make at home but that it’s very authentic. I couldn’t imagine more tartness. Perhaps my palate wasn’t ready for this level of authenticity. The sweet and sour is extremely intense, almost like a punch to the face. The saffron rice provided alongside helped to mitigate the flavor though. It’s definitely a great idea for a dish.
I’ll post up a variation of the recipe from New Persian Kitchen soon which was amazing and fits the American palate. I would definitely go back to Ravagh but would probably try something safe such as the dozen or so kebab options (lamb, chicken, beef, seafood, vegetable).
11 E. 30th (5th and Madison)
New York, NY
Subway: N, R to 28th, 6 to 33rd