Persia on a plate at Haftsin on Burley Road
Writer Frederic Shoberl wrote in 1828: “A Persian does not keep his doors shut at meal times. He would consider himself deficient in his duty... if he did not share his table with all guests.”
The Burley Road eatery - whose food is based on recipes that are over 3000 years old - is merely a short magic carpet ride away from Leeds town centre.
The doors open to a roaringly busy scene of packed tables that are filled with people-in-the-know, travellers visiting the city and local Persians, all seemingly addicted to the Iranian fare on offer.
Specialising in slow cooked dishes which are always devoured quickly due to their undeniable tastiness, Haftsin has been delighting their customers since the mid 2000s with Persian cooking that makes rice the star of the show.
Tender meat is partnered with sticky dried fruits, grilled aubergines are livened up with the glistening jewel-like seeds of pomegranate and ground walnuts are sprinkled liberally over chicken.
Iranian food is fragrant and combines the playful flavours of sweet, savoury and tartness. Persian food by nature is not overly spicy and is subtle with hints of cardamom, mint and rosewater.
The very word ‘kebab’ is of Persian origin and at Haftsin the kebabs are nothing short of mouth-watering, meat-dribbling deliciousness.
The owner, Mansour Javan, says: “We only serve halal, and there is no beef on the premises. We only cook lamb, chicken and fish.
“All our dishes are steeped in saffron, imported directly from Iran. Weight for weight, the spice is more expensive than gold.”
A favourite is the simple 'koubideh’, where minced lamb is sizzled over hot coals, not once touching the embers for optimum flavour.
The kebabs smell as good as they look and are simply served with a juicy grilled tomato, so its refreshing juices match perfectly with the meat.
Persian stews are covered in bright green parsley - a herb that’s fresh and peppery - and an added depth of flavour tickles the taste buds thanks to the different fruits and nuts nestled like hidden treasure within the sauce; dried lime, sour grapes, wild berries and pistachios.
The restaurant has a homely feel thanks to smiling staff; an unfussy decor that still charms thanks to its beautiful selection of photography canvases which depict Iranian culture and a bustling open-plan kitchen where customers can watch chefs dust themselves in swan-white flour whilst making Persian breads that are as soft as clouds.
Persia is known for its poets, from Hafiz to Sa’adi. One visit to Haftsin on Burley Road and you’ll be hooked on the lyrical offerings which are pure poetry on a plate.
62 Burley Road,
Leeds LS3 1JX,
Tel: 0113 245 7000