338 Springvale Road
Forest Hill VIC 3131
+61 3 9878 3087
Persian food. I must admit that I don’t know much about it, despite growing up in a suburb that has one of the highest concentrations of Persians and Iranians in Melbourne. I went to school with Persians. Our next-door neighbours were Persians. And every time I went from one end of this particular suburb to another, there’d always be a network called ‘Persian Empire’ present every time I tried to look for WiFi on my iPhone.
Thus, I’m surprised that it took me this long to try Persian food – and funnily enough, it was my dad who recommended Persian Flavours, a restaurant on Springvale Road. I say ‘funnily enough’ because he used to avoid going out of his comfort zone when it came to food but he (and my mother) are a lot more adventurous now.
A quick browse through Google brought me to the conclusion that Persian cuisine is heavily influenced by neighbouring cuisines, especially the Caucasus. There’s also a lot of Turkish influence as well as inspiration from north Indian cuisine. The owners of this restaurant seem to be heavily swayed by the latter because the menu seems to focus heavily on curries and charcoal grilled meats ‘from the tandoori oven.’ I also see typical Indian restaurant highlights such as butter chicken sitting alongside goat curry, nan bread and tikka masala.
I dined here with my parents and sister on a Sunday night; we ordered several dishes to share between us: lamb koobideh, butter chicken, nan bread and kismish polow (sultana rice). All the dishes arrived very quickly and our waitresses were very friendly throughout the evening.
‘Koobideh’ is the term given to meat skewers (usually beef or lamb, occasionally chicken) cooked over hot coals. The meat is minced, seasoned with parsley, onions and spices before being grilled. Persian Flavours’ lamb koobideh came in pairs and were served with side salad and plain nan bread (though you also have the option of going for Persian rice with tomato if salads ain’t your thang).
We also ordered a serving of kismish polow ($7.50), sultana rice cooked the Persian way (parboiled, drained, then steamed). Soft, fluffy and fragrant, the rice was tasty enough to enjoy on its own thanks to the sweet sultanas and fried onions but it also did a great job in soaking up all the sauces from the butter chicken we ordered (see below).
Yep, butter chicken, a dish that you see on every Indian restaurant’s menu in Australia. This dish is probably the Indian equivalent of the ghastly Chinese lemon chicken but if I were to be honest, I don’t mind a good butter chicken – and my family agrees with me. (though wow, I can’t believe how bad that photo is!)
I couldn’t taste the difference between Persian Flavours’ butter chicken and one that you’d get at a good Indian restaurant but it doesn’t matter for it was delicious. Creamy and nutty, with the fragrant burst of browned butter shining through, this dish was a winner and paired well with the kismish polow and the two types of nan we ordered, garlic and plain.
Persian Flavours always seems to be packed every time I drive past on a weekend and I can see why. The food is excellent value for money and everything we had was delicious. The service is warm and very efficient, with the staff making you feel right at home. I can definitely see myself coming back to try more Persian dishes, though I wouldn’t be surprised if I get tempted by the curries again…