Saturday, May 1, 2010

Persian Grille - Sweet and Sultry

Eric and I were roaming about in the Philly area and found this Persian restaurant off of 476.  I'm not a Persian cuisine expert, but I thought this was mighty tasty, as my friend Laura would say.  I did find it to be a bit cloyingly sweet, which made me wonder whether this had been "Americanized."  My experience with General Tso's Chicken in several Chinese restaurants in not-so-populated-with-Chinese areas in the US has made me equate "too sweet" to "Americanized."  Rightly or wrongly, at least you know where I'm coming from.

Before I get into the food, I found a note on the front page of the restaurant charming:  "Persian food is very easy to like.  Mostly low in fat and calories.  No hot spices or fried meats.  Nutritionally balanced, easy to digest and very delicious."  And very sweet...

We started with the Halim Bademjoon (on the right) - eggplant is grilled over an open charcoal flame, then the meat of the eggplant extracted and mixed with shredded chicken, sautéed onions, mint and walnuts.  Ii expected the eggplant to come out in grilled slices and was surprised that it came as a mixture.  It was in no way less delightful.  On the left is a cool yogurt with mint and cucumbers stirred in.  We used the warm pita bread as the food delivery vehicle.  I particularly liked the combination of the hot eggplant mixture topped with the cool yogurt.  The sour hint of the yogurt mixed well with the savory eggplant mixture.

Eric ordered the Shereen Polo - Basmati Rice infused with Saffron (which they apparently import from Iran), slivered almonds, candied orange peels, carrots and pistachio nuts.  That was served with a whole roasted hen that was served with a sweet orange sauce poured over it.  According to the menu, this is served at Persian weddings, and I know why.  It's sumptuous.  The meat was so moist and tender it just fell off the bone.  In combination with the citrus flair and the Saffron rice, it was delectable.  Because of the sweetness, I was partaking in far more carby, but delicious, rice than I would have liked, but I had to get the balance under control.  Unfortunately for Eric, that meant I was eating quite a bit of his dish.  That, I have found, is one of the greatest advantages of marriage to a generous person.  

My dish was Chicken Fesenjoon - Large chicken pieces were stewed in a sauce made of pomegranate and walnuts, then served over Saffron-infused Basmati rice.  In both entree pictures, you can see these dark burnt slices of something - they're the sections of rice that stuck to the bottom of the cooking pot.  They border on burnt, but they're crispy, crunchy planes of ricey goodness, and I think they are something to be savored. Yum!  In this dish, the chicken wasn't nearly as interesting as Eric's whole hen, but nevertheless, the chicken was moist and tender.  The sauce was, as you may guess, even sweeter than Eric's candied orange sauce, but it was rich and flavorful.  I wouldn't have tasted it and said - ah yes, pomegranate - it was subtle and well balanced with the savory elements.  Still, a little of the sauce went a long way, and once I gained the right ratio of rice to sauce and added the yogurt tartness to cut the sweet, it was thoroughly enjoyable.    

I would love to go back again.  Next time, I wonder if I can ask them to make it less "Americanized."  I'll let you know if they laugh and nod knowingly or if they cock their head in confusion...

Persian Grille
637 Germantown Pike
Lafayette Hill, PA 19444
(610) 825-2705

No comments: