Prior to my visit to Afsaneh Kaviani’s Persian Supper Club, I had tried what it thought was traditional Persian food a few times before, however I would soon discover that the only way to eat the traditional Persian way is Afsaneh’s way!
The Supper Club phenomenon really is taking off at the moment. It’s a great way to be introduced to different cuisines, whilst there is also the social element to it, meeting others who are interested in food in an informal setting of someone else’s home. The address for the evening wasn’t even known, other than it being in Leeds, until we were emailed the details the night before.
There were 12 of us at this Supper Club in total, a nice number I thought. We all enjoyed a refreshing water melon drink and a couple of canapés before we headed to the table for the other courses.
The mezze starters soon followed and we were overwhelmed but not disappointed by the sheer volume. It was reassuring when we were informed that any leftovers would be taken that evening to a local homeless hostel.
There were 2 portions of every dish on the table served with Persian Lavash and Barbari Bread. The mezze dishes included the following;
– Mirza Ghasemi (Smoked Aubergine, Garlic & Tomato Dip topped with Shredded Egg)
– Borani Bademjaan ba Goosht (Chargrilled Aubergine & Lamb Mince topped with Mint Oil & Saffron Yoghurt
– Kabab Taveh ba Maast-o-Khiar (Pan Fried Minced Kebab, served with Yoghurt & Cucumber Dip)
– Salade Sabzi ba Paneer (Herb Salad with Marinated Feta)
– Salade Balghur (Bulgur Wheat Salad)
It’s difficult to pick a favourite as they were all so delicious and the combinations worked really well together, but if pushed for one I would go for the Chargrilled Aubergine & Lamb Mince, I may well have had more than one of these.
We thankfully had a bit of a breather before the main meat and rice dishes arrived. The time went fast though as we continued our conversations with the other guests whilst drinking the wine we had taken with us. I got a list of a few food places in Leeds that I was yet to try from the gentleman next to me, whilst we talked about our recent Glastonbury trip to the nice Irish man at the end of the table who was also at the festival.
During the course of the evening I popped into the kitchen en-route back from the toilet to curiously ask more questions about the food being cooked, I’m pretty sure Afsaneh didn’t mind!
Cleary passionate about her food and culture and it was fascinating listening to her speaking about these traditions. Her main aim for these super clubs is to simply introduce Persian food to people and provide the opportunity for them to try as many dishes as possible.
The next course of rice and main dishes was just as outstanding as the first. My pick of which was the Sea Bass (Ghaliyeh Mahi), something that is apparently always on the menu as people regularly ask for it. The fish was deliciously cooked with a lovely crispy skin. The sauce had a spicy kick and I was fooled into thinking it was a spinach base sauce but in fact in was coriander and tamarind.
– Loobia Polo ba Salad Shirazi – Lamb, Tomato and Green Bean Rice, served with Shirazi Salad
– Havij Polo – Saffron Rice, topped with Fried Carrots and Pistachios
– Khoresh Beh Aloo – Chicken, Quince and Prune Stew, topped with Flaked Almonds and Straw Potatoes
– Khoresh Bamieh – Lamb and Okra in Tomato Sauce
As we had just started tucking into these dishes, Afsaneh brought out one of the pans that she had used to cook the rice in. She explained that its traditional in Iran to eat the bottom of the pan where the rice catches during cooking and starts to harden. It was described as the Iranian equivalent to the British pork scratching!
After another much needed break, and of course another glass of wine, the last course came out (well, what we thought was the last course). The dish, known locally as Bastani Anaar ba Jeleh, looked beautiful and tasted just as beautiful. I had never tried Pomegranate Ice Cream before, it was a very distinctive taste but light and refreshingly delicious, encased by a light Meringue. The little Red Current Jellies and Panna Cottas, along with 2 mini pistachio meringues, finished the dish off nicely.
The time and preparation that went into the food and presentation was unbelievable. If I’m cooking for friends or family, I would normally start prepping the night before but not Afsaneh. She spent 5 long days preparing for us and that made us feel even more special.
If you would like to experience an amazing authentic Persian night like we did, check out Afsaneh’s website https://afsanehspersiankitchen.wordpress.com/ you won’t be disappointed.