Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Pret-a-Persia Wraps It Up

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Pret-a-Persia Wraps It Up

Article excerpt


DINDIN KITCHEN 52 Gray's Inn Rd, WC1 (dindinkitchen.

com), Mon-Fri 7.30am-9pm. No reservations, no licence. A meal for two with soft drinks, about PS25.

IN London, Iranian cuisine remains the Middle East's besthidden delight. At least west of Marble Arch, you're never far from Lebanese shawarma and hummus. Turkish kebabs dominate swathes of north London. But aside from a handful of Persian restaurants in Olympia, Iranian food is hard to find and fairly traditional. Dindin aims to change all that: think an Iranian Itsu.

The brainchild of former City worker Vida Tayebi, it's a bright, white space with a central fast-foodstyle ordering counter; even in its first week open, service was speedy. You can takeaway or eat in from take-away boxes at the simple white tables and chairs. Most importantly, while there are a few of those ubiquitous Lebanese dishes on offer, there's a good selection of Iranian standards (all rendered entirely in English on the menu).

At breakfast there is a range of flatbreads, cold pots with fruit and muesli, and hot egg pots, some of the latter with Iranian flavours (pomegranate sauce, or yoghurt and mint), others not (smoked salmon and avocado).

I went on a sunny spring lunchtime with Iranian-British journalist Peyvand Khorsandi to help me assess the dishes' authenticity. Peyvand struggled a little while trying to explain the differences between Lebanese and Iranian food before concluding: "Our kebabs are bigger and tastier." But the Iranian national dish of chelo kebab (lamb kebab and rice) aside, Iranian food is marked out by its heavy use of fresh herbs and greens, as well as fruit, both fresh and dried. These often help give these dishes their distinctive sweet and sour flavours, as well as brilliant green and golden colours.

Thus ab gosht, thick lamb soup with chick peas and tomatoes, gets its distinctive Iranian twist from the pungency of dried limes; it's served with flat bread (lavash). …

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