23 January 2007

A Return to Persian Dining

I’ve been around the block with all kinds of rice: Chinese, Japanese, Korean, and Indian; but I must say that Persian rice is some kind of wonderful with its fluffy long grains seasoned with saffron and occasionally mixed with dried fruits. It’s a combination that makes my tongue swoon and my taste buds go weak at the knees.

I had that reaction all over again during dinner this week at Shamshiri Grill in Westwood when I ordered the Zereshk Polo, which came with Basmati rice with barberries and saffron. Zereshk is Persian for barberries, although I got the dish with braised lamb shanks instead of chicken.

Barberries are sour tasting, red-colored berries. Their addition to the saffron rice brighten its buttery flavor with a tartness that was music to my mouth, and eating it in spoonfuls with the lush braised lamb made every bite a symphony of tastes and textures—rich and tender lamb, delicate rice, and tangy berries. It was comfort food that filled my empty stomach and smoothed away the rough edges of an extra long workday. And isn't that why we eat, to feed ourselves body and soul.

Shamshiri Grill
1712 Westwood Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90024
(310) 474-1410

For more about the barberry, check-out Botanical.com and Wikipedia for starters.

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