A taste of Persia at Anaida’s Persian Pop-up!

When restaurants introduce patrons to a new cuisine, sometimes they are forced to Indianise it by adding some chillies to suit the local palate. When pop singer Anaida decided to host a pop-up with the chefs at SodaBottleOpenerWala, she was clear she would not add chillies to the food as Persian food is non-spicy yet very flavourful.

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Chef Pratap, SBOW with Anaida

Here are some facts about Persian food & ingredients, before you move on read more about what I ate:

  • Persian food has mostly meat-based but dishes like Osh-e-reshte and Baghali Polo are vegetarian.
  • Iranians love their rice. They remove starch by half cooking the rice and then dum-cooking it.
  • Kashk a dried yogurt derivative is widely used.
  • Rose petals and rose water are widely used, though the variety of Iranian roses used in cooking makes all the difference. These are grown only in certain parts of Iran. The roses are small and petals thin which is why they are sweet and can be simply plucked and eaten.
  • Pomegranate molasses and pomegranate seeds are used. So are fried onions, fried garlic, plums, apricots, raisins, saffron, cinnamon, sumac and fresh herbs that are at the heart of Persian cooking.
  • Dried black lime or Omani limoo is a dried lemon used as a powder or even sliced to add a sour note to the dishes. It is used to flavour soups and stews.
  • Ghee is combined with mint powder to flavour stews.
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Kashk at 12 o clock, fried onions at 3 o clock and fried garlic

Skeeter sampled some delicious fare at Anaida’s Persian Pop-up at SodaBottleOpenerWala, Khan Market (on till 30th April, 2017) as she chatted with the multi-talented artist about her experiences in food workshops, meditation and curation of this particular pop-up, in particular. We sampled Osh-e-reshte, a hearty Vegetable and Noodle traditional Iranian stew which is made with red beans, chickpeas, vegetables and wheat noodles. It is flavoured with Kashk (dried yogurt derivative), garnished with fried onions, fried garlic and ghee tossed mint powder. I know what to make next winter when I crave easy peasy, filling and flavourful soups!

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Next up was the Kashk-o-Bademjan or Anaida’s super tasty eggplant roll. Self praise much or no? Well, it was super tasty enough and rightly christened. This one is Anaida’s take on the traditional Iranian eggplant dip called Kashk-e-Bademjan. The dip comes wrapped in soft rumali to make a roll. The rolls are served with fried onions and one can’t stop munching on those. If sharing, they make for a snack, if not, they could make for a meal! Eggplant lovers will heart this one.


For mains we had Shiitake Fesenjan or Shiitake mushrooms cooked in pomegranate molasses along with walnuts and garnished with pomegranate pearls. This specialty from Iran is usually made with poultry (chicken/duck) and sometimes meat, but at SodaBottleOpenerWala, a vegetarian version was developed for this pop-up. We had it with Baghali Polo or Dill-scented flavoured rice with nutty-buttery Fava beans.

                                Baghali polo or Dill rice

Dessert was Persian Halva cooked with ghee, wheat flour and rose water and flavoured with cinnamon, nuts and garnished with rose petals. Skeeter couldn’t taste cinnamon in this one, though it did have a slight aroma of rose water. It was more like the North Indian atte ka halwa or even kadah prashad minus the extra ghee (in a good way).

                        Persian Halva topped with rose petals and nuts

Of a season gone by…

End of winter makes me a little sad, always. Fresh greens, peas, oranges, kinnows, strawberries, sweet potatoes, my most favourite Kali Gajar or purple carrots, and so much more starts fading away from Sabzi Mandis across Delhi. On a similar note, Chef Vikramjit Roy of Tian – the Asian Cuisine Studio, celebrated the end of the season by creating dishes from the same old ingredients using new/multiple techniques, pushing culinary boundaries and of course with plating that was imposing.

Chef Vikramjit thinks like a chef and executes like an artist, a rare combination, which makes me call him India’s Heston. His love for contemporary art gets reflected in his plating, evident from the pictures that follow. This food pleases the palate and looking at it is ever so joyful!

Name: Kimchi Dragonfly
Elements: dehydrated cabbage kimchi (in wings) | chestnut puree | potato confit spiral | aka miso|kochujang gel.
IMG_20170223_000434_052Name: The Grass
Elements: Pink grapefruit | smoked almond milk | toasted amaranth seeds | fermented romaine & arugula lettuce |

The Grass
The Grass


Name: Asian Mole Wind
Elements: corn cakes l tomato powder l kafir lime yoghurt l pistachio powder | Mole Sauce 


Name: Transition
Elements: eight textures of onion


Elements: vanilla panna cotta l white chocolate egg shell| thai chili yolk l valrohna chocolate nest l grilled marshmallows l sand & powder


And I cannot leave you all without my most favourite creation of chef Roy. Do follow him on Instagram.

The vegetarian and non-vegetarian dishes for the End of Winter menu mirrored each other. Very gratifying to me as a vegetarian, who often gets mocked at being a food-blogger/writer who doesn’t eat non-vegetarian food.