26 November 2006

Persian State of Mind

I've been thinking about Persian food ever since a post about Azerbaian Pilaf with Pomegranate Meatballs on the food blog, "Toast". Lucky for me, I live in LA where there are Persian restaurants a plenty. So one evening, my friend S and her husband D helped me get my Persian fix at Javan in West Los Angeles.

Our meal began with lots and lots of lavosh eated with slices of raw onions, butter, and sumac. That was only the beginning of the feast of plenty that characterized the evening. Food round one was 2 appetizers: eggplant topped with yogurt and mint or Kashk O'Bademjan and yogurt with cucumber and herbs or Must O'Kheyar. Although I generally dislike most "fruit-on-the-bottom" yogurt, I'm a fan of plain yogurt, especially in Greek, Middle Eastern, and Indian cusines—I like yogurt, but I don't like it sweet. In this case, the yogurt was thick and creamy, a nice dip for the bread.

The sheer amount of food they serve at Javan is thrilling—big dishes, piled high and spilling over with rice and meat. When our entrées came out, we were shuffling and shifting plates to fit everything on the table. I had a combination of 2 kinds of lamb stews cooked in a tomato sauce, Gheymahont and Badenjanont (below, top right). The lamb fell off the shank, fork tender and moist; and the tangy sauce helped to balance the meat's richness. S ordered chicken with sautéed walnuts in a pomegrante sauce, Fesenjannt (below, bottom right)—a luxurious dish. The pomegrante sauce was concentrated and complex. It had a deep, mellow spiciness that reminded me of certain Malaysian curries that are slow simmered until the flavors meld and deepened. D got the Zereshk Polo (below, bottom left), a baked chicken dish served with sour currant and saffron rice. The chicken was the well-prepared, but the real delight was the rice. The currants sparkled in the rice like red jewels and added a taste that was equally lively on the palate as they were bright to the eyes.

We didn't finish our dinners, but that didn't stop us from getting desert—Baghlava and Persian ice cream. Both sweets were flavored with rose, but the baghlava was the more satisfying of the two deserts. It was sweet without being cloy and the pastry was tender and flakey. Unfortunately, the ice cream tasted like it had been in the freezer too long. It came frozen hard on a plate and when it did thaw a bit, it softed to a gummy, gluey texture—not ideal for ice cream.

Overall, the food was good and the large servings made it a good value. I need to remember to eat Persian food more often.

Javan Restaurant
11500 Santa Monica Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90025
(310) 207 - 5555

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Blogger munki said...

mmm. the fesenjan was awesome...now i want to eat it again. I'm going to learn to make it.

11/28/2006 4:02 PM  
Blogger Blue Plate said...

i hope you invite me over when you do, learn to make it that is. : )

11/28/2006 9:16 PM  

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