A good friend of mine who runs a wonderful Persian food stall called 'Black Lime' at Broadway Market in Hackney mentioned there was a new Persian restaurant (perhaps 'canteen' is a better way to describe it) in Hackney, E8. 'Fesenjan' for the non-Iranians/Persians among you is a rich Persian stew, thick and glossy with an unctuous chocolately consistency but made with walnuts, pomegranate molasses and either chicken, duck or tiny little meatballs. It is a firm favourite among us Iranians and for the recipe of this classic dish CLICK HERE
Now back to the story... 'Fesenjan London' has sprung from nowhere serving an uncomplicated menu with a handful of Persian dishes including various rice dishes, stews and delicious wraps and side dishes as well. Feeling compelled to visit, I hopped in a taxi and wound my way over to 'Netil House' where 'Fesenjan London' can be found.
A metal door and bizarre steering wheel (pictured above) are how you know you have found the right place. You press '0' to enter and wait to be buzzed in. Then take the stairs two flights up past lots of quirky little offices, storage rooms and workshops where budding fashion designers and artists have set up shop. The dining room reminded me of a classroom but with the added bonus of a kitchen, of course. The menu du jour included 'Zereshk Polow' a basmatic rice dishes studded with sour barberries (usually fried in butter and some sugar to sweeten) carefully mixed in to the rice along with saffron and some chicken on the side. There are two stews of Khoresht-e-Karafs (A celery and herb stew usually with lamb, but vegetarian in this instance) and Khoresht-e-Gheymeh (a stew of split peas, dried limes and lamb). Also on the menu are Kotlet, which are usually patties of minced lamb with potatoes, breaded and gently fried but today's patties were somewhat different, although still very delicious.
Overall 'Fesenjan London' is a what I would class as a wonderfully gentle introduction to Persian food and for those who are completely unfamiliar with this kind of cuisine, I would highly recommend 'Fesenjan London' as your first stepping stone. The further bonus is that prices are ridiculously good value with no dish costing more than £7 and even better is that all their meat is free range (You know I love this!) and locally sourced AND they have a fully licensed bar. Just beware that they are only open from Monday-Friday 12pm-5pm.
Persian cuisine is definitely an unexplored cuisine in the Western world... But with the help of the people behind 'Fesenjan London' and 'Black Lime' at Broadway Market, we can help push it forward because the tastes and flavours are uniquely delicious and not spicy/offensive in anyway. There is so much that the world seems to be missing out on in our opinion... Persian food has been one of the world's best kept secrets and now we are all ready to shout about it and share it with the world!
For more information and menus for 'Fesenjan London' visit their website at: http://www.fesenjan.co.uk/