This was my first experience with Persian (Iranian) cuisine. I’m surprised it took me so long, as there is a large Persian population in Vancouver, and several good spots to choose from. A Groupon finally prompted me to give it a try.
A common theme in Persian food, and what distinguished it for me from other cuisines is their common use of fruits such as dates, plums, pomegranates, prunes, apricots, and raisins. Common Persian flavourings include saffron, dried limes, cinnamon, and parsley. Dishes are typically served alongside rice.
I considered it a very good sign that the restaurant’s customers were mostly Persian. The food didn’t disappoint, but the portions were rather small (with exception to the rice). I’ve done some homework since, and I’m keen on trying a couple other Persian spots.
The meal pictured above is my friend’s lamb shank served with dill basmati rice with fava beans (Shevid baghali polo ba mahicheh). I had the chicken breast stew below with walnut and pomegranate paste, and Persian spices (Fesen-Joon). It came with that pyramid of basmati rice, of which I only had a couple of tablespoons. Great presentation on the rice! The orange stuff on top is saffron-soaked rice.
It’s hard to tell from the picture, but there were only 4 tiny morsels of chicken in that sauce. The flavor of the paste was very interesting – nutty and sweet, different than anything I’ve had before. The sweetness of the sauce was meant to be balanced by the rice, which I wasn’t eating much of – so I found it overly sweet (but I can’t fault the restaurant for that, since that’s what the rice is for). I also wasn’t a fan of the rice itself, as I prefer it to be more moist. My friend said the lamb was alright, albeit a little small and not very flavourful, and that the sauce that accompanied the lamb was tasty.
As for the experience, they were quite busy, so although the service was friendly, it was slow. The ambience was nice – open layout, nice fireplace, central bar. I found it quirky that they had big screen TVs showing white sandy beaches at first, and then classic cars.
I’d say Darchin is a good place to try Persian food, but it wasn’t quite up my alley – it did however whet my appetite for trying more, and there are a few places I’ve heard of that are said to be more generous with servings, without sacrificing quality. I’ll report back after more field work :)
Have you tried Persian food? Any recommendations?