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basmati rice

Cafes, London, Restaurants

Persian dishes at dindin kitchen, Holborn

dindin kitchen is the new Persian ‘fine fast food’ restaurant in Holborn that I’ve been raving about to anyone who will listen since visiting recently.

Being Persian, I’ve grown up on a diet of slow-cooked stews and Basmati rice studded with vegetable or dried fruit.  Typically, I have the Persian obsession with making the perfect rice in my genes, so I was curious to see whether dindin kitchen would be able to serve up great rice in a quick dining environment.

Dubbed as ‘the Persian Itsu’, dindin kitchen is a slick affair with fridges of bright meze pots and healthy juices, clear menus noting the dishes simply in English and arty shots of pomegranates adorning the walls.

The force behind dindin kitchen is Persian entrepreneur Vida Tayebi, who saw a gap in the market for home-cooked Middle Eastern food served quickly.  In fact, no one in London is doing what she is to the same professional level.

 Before visiting, I carefully planned what to order to get the best overview of dindin kitchen.  Little did I know that Vida would bring us a spectacular feast of pretty much everything on the menu – that’s the Persian way.

We started with a rainbow of delicious meze pots served with chewy, airy Persian Flatbread and a fresh, bitter Endive, Pomegranate and Walnut Salad (£2.80).  My favourites among the selection were the moreish Aubergine and Lentil Salad (£1.60) and a rich, flavoursome Smoked Aubergine and Tomato Salad (£1.60).  Other tasty meze pots include Beetroot and Parsley Yoghurt Dip (£1.60), cooling Baby Spinach, Dill and Yoghurt Dip (£1.50) and a traditional Persian Chicken Salad with mayonnaise, pickles, peas and egg (£1.95).

The meze pots make perfect starters or light bites and it’s best to order a few different ones to share.

To follow, we tried a Sweet and Sour Pomegranate Soup with added meatballs (£3.95).  The soup was thick and comforting with tangy, mouthwatering flavours and soft pieces of meatball crumbled in the soup.  The Noodle Soup with lentils and fresh vegetables (£3.50), known as Ash-e Reshteh in Farsi, was herby and aromatic with plenty of spinach, mint and parsley.

Chicken and Lemon Saffron Soufflé (£3.80) is a must-try dish, either as a starter, side or accompanied with rice.  The large soufflés were packed full of shredded, marinated chicken breast and the saffron gave them a slightly sweet, fragrant taste.  ‘Soufflé’ is the best English description for the classic dish known as ‘kookoo’, however the filling is usually the main part and the texture is less airy than a regular soufflé.

Stuffed Meatballs with split peas and barberries (£4.95) were juicy and substantial with sweet dates at the centre.  The tomato sauce was deliciously rich and slow-cooked with flavours of zesty dried kaffir lime – I really enjoyed this dish.

The grilled dishes at dindin kitchen are really fantastic and quite a healthy choice.  Chicken Skewers (£6.75) were succulent and tender, lightly marinated in yoghurt, lime and saffron and cooked on a charcoal grill.  The Lamb Fillet Skewers (£6.95) were also lean, flavoursome and substantial.

Mostly importantly, the accompanying rice was out of this world.  The delicate Basmati rice was steamed with saffron and plenty of barberries.  Often these little red berries can be very sour and sharp, but dindin kitchen managed to soften the flavour, making the rice ever so slightly sweet and rather addictive.

Both dishes came with some saffron mayo and a side of mild pickles and a tomato, red onion and cucumber salad.  The grills were perhaps my favourites of all the dishes we tried – it’s quite hard to beat good charcoal-grilled meat.

We were feeling rather full by this point, but managed to squeeze in a few wraps, which are available on their own or as a daily deal with soup for just £4.95.

The Minced Lamb wrap (£6.25) included a tasty flatbread filled with well-seasoned, smoky meat, sumac, tomatoes, pickles, fresh parsley and saffron mayo.  The Beef Falafel wrap (£4) is also worth trying, particularly if you like a wrap with a slightly spicy kick.

For dessert, we were excited to finally try a CroDough (£3.95) from Rinkoff Bakery.  There were four flavours to choose from and we went for the raspberry CroDough, filled with jam and topped with fresh raspberries.  It was pleasing enough (if a little underwhelming) and is a fun sweet item to offer, but I much preferred the more Persian-influenced Raspberry and Pistachio Cake (£2.35)

The dense, fragrant sponge was studded with chopped pistachios and pieces of dried raspberry and was a delightful end to the meal.  We finished with cups of fine Earl Grey tea, however a glass of typical Persian brewed tea would have been a welcome addition.

dindin kitchen is without a doubt my favourite new casual dining opening this year.  For me, it’s the ultimate childhood comfort food and for those who haven’t yet tried Persian cuisine, it provides an authentic yet uncomplicated introduction.

The food is excellent, prices are very reasonable and everything is available to take-out and eat on the go.  For something completely new in London, dindin kitchen should be top of the list.

For more information, visit:

All photos by Chérie City

Chérie City was invited by dindin kitchen

Dindin Kitchen on Urbanspoon

Recipes, Websites

Chérie City Cooks Fesenjan For Good Food Channel

Fesenjan is my favourite Persian dish – it’s a delicious, slow-cooked stew of walnuts and pomegranates with either chicken or duck.  I used to beg my grandma to make it when she came to visit us from Tehran every few years and the recipe has been passed on through the family since.

Fesenjan is so decadent, rich and particularly comforting during the winter, when I’d happily dive head first into a big bowl of it.  There are more attractive dishes in Persian cooking than Fesenjan, however it’s a special meal that never fails to impress with its unique, aromatic flavours.

My Fesenjan recipe features today on Good Food Channel alongside some lovely Christmas recipes by top food bloggers including The London Foodie, Gastrogeek, Food Stories and Tamarind and Thyme.

Read the full recipe and make your own Fesenjan here.

Do you love Persian food?  Have you tried cooking Fesenjan?  Let me know your favourite dishes…

Cafes, London, Restaurants

Bombay Cafe Culture at Dishoom

Upper Saint Martin’s Lane seems to be going through a food renaissance at the moment, with a number of new restaurants opening this year.  Dishoom holds court as the most talked-about one of them all, and with good reason too!

Dishoom fills a void in the London restaurant scene – a Bombay cafe.  Moti Mahal covers fine dining cuisine (one of my favourites) and most of us have our own favourite local Indian restaurant, but London has definitely been lacking an all-day, central cafe for Indian snacks, light curries and chai.

I brought my half-Indian friend Emily to samples the delights of Dishoom, as she’s a fellow curry connoisseur and straight-talking as they come.  A below-par roti would not pass her scorn.

Dishoom has a bright, airy feel and the interior is designed like an old Bombay railway cafe with brass rails, low lighting and a chequered floor.

The cafe is full of personal touches such as original photographs of the owner’s close family and relatives on the walls.  It feels like a real labour of love  – warm and totally unpretentious.

Our waitress was super friendly and helpful, recommending dishes that complimented each other and telling us the specials of the day.

We started by sharing a plate of Vegetable Samosas (£2.90), which were nicely spiced with a dense, satisfying filling and not at all greasy.  They cames with three glass ramekins of chutneys and minted yogurt.

After a hard day’s work, we couldn’t resist a couple of cocktails and started with a Bollybellini (£5.70) – a rose, lychee and raspberry bellini.  They were sweet, fragrant and not overly strong, with the fruit perfectly balancing the champagne.

For our next course, we ordered the Murgh Malai (£6.50), the chicken curry special of the day (I forget the name) and a bowl of House Black Daal (£4.50).  These were accompanied by a selection of sides – Plain Naan (£1.70) Steamed Basmati Rice (£1.90) Roomali Roti (£1.70).

The Murgh Malai was skewered pieces of chicken breast chargrilled in the tandoor and served with lime and coriander.  It was tender and delicious and came sizzling hot and generously sized.

The chicken special was a delicately flavoured  tomato and onion based curry that was light and non-greasy.  The black daal was worth ordering and came with lots of sauce and tiny, dense black lentils.

Emily gave her Rotis the seal of approval and I loved the soft, chewy naan bread with melted butter (you can have it without) served in a bread tin.  The Basmati rice was as light and fluffy as it should be.

For our second cocktail, we ordered a St. Martini (£5.50) – pomegranate and home-made chili syrup shaken with gin – and House Punch (£4.90) – a blend of exotic fruit juices, coconut and rum with a dash of Darjeeling tea.  Both were slightly stronger and less sweet than the Bollybellini but it’s pretty hard to decide a favourite.

We then ordered a House Chai (£1.90) to let everything go down.  The chai tasted fragrant and slightly malted, as though it contained condensed milk.  Our waitress told us that they make the chai base fresh in the morning and keep batches of it simmering away during the day.

After the curries, we were too full to try a heavier dessert, although Chocolate Fondant and Seasonal Fruit Crumble with a glass of Chai would make a scrumptious afternoon treat, getting away from the winter chill.

Instead, we went for Kulfi on a Stick (£2.50) in chocolate and pistachio.  The pistachio was subtle and creamy while the chocolate was deliciously sticky, caramelised and rich.  The perfect way to finish the meal.

Dishoom’s concept of small plates and lighter curries makes it a must for those who like a bit of everything with their meal.  For the quality and of the food, g0od portion size and the prestigious location, the dishes and the cocktails especially are well priced.  The only thing is, you could be tempted to try almost everything on the menu, so approach with restraint.

For breakfasts, Dishoom offers classic breakfasts with a spicy or fragrant twist such as Breakfast Lassi, House Porridge with dates and bananas, Granola with cinnamon, fresh fruits and Madagascan vanilla, spiced Bombay Omelette or a Sausage Naan Roll.

At lunchtime you can order roti wraps filled with tandoor grilled chicken, lamb and paneer, or a selection of small dishes such as Chilli Cheese Toast, Bombay Sausages and Desi Fish Fingers.

While some central London restaurants can leave you feeling detached or apathetic, Dishoom has the kind of warm, inviting atmosphere that makes you want to come back.  Every meal of the day is taken care of at Dishoom and you can even have a glass or a bottle of Moët with your dinner.

While the original cafes of Bombay may be rapidly disappearing, at least in London we can get a piece of the legacy on our doorstep.

* Chérie City was a guest of Dishoom

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