With COVID-19 lockdowns, restaurants across the city (and country) have remained closed for over 3 months now. As a hard-core foodie, I have been missing going out to try out different yet delicious cuisines. This prompted me to look up some home-based food delivery outlets in the city and that’s when I came across a mother-daughter startup. What intrigued me was their Iranian cuisine, something which my husband and I always enjoy eating. And lo and behold I just discovered a gem.
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Born in Tehran, in the heart of Iran, Elham learned the craft of Afghani and Iranian cuisine from a generation of exceptional cooks whilst spending a majority of her pre-marriage life in the Middle East. After moving to Karachi back in 1992, she won the hearts of many of her family and friends with her authentic Iranian food. When the lockdown was imposed and everyone went into quarantine, Elham discovered that she had a lot of free time on her hands now, allowing her to work on an idea that had been lingering on her and her daughter Mahum’s minds for a while. Free time along with the wish to be financially independent, gave Elham and Mahum the motivation to use their free time to do something productive. That’s when Zafraan came into being with the vision to spread the joys of Iranian flavours to the people of Pakistan.
Zafraan’s menu is simple yet authentic and prices very reasonable. They offer home delivery, which is a blessing in the current situation, and pay special attention to hygiene and taste.
Let’s begin with Chullu Kebabs which literally means ‘rice and kebab’ in Persian. It is the national dish of Iran and also the most popular. These legendary kebabs are a fan favourite and Zafraan’s ace of spade. The dish consists of buttery saffron rice and top quality minced beef kebabs served with grilled tomato and tomato sauce. The tenderness of the kebabs along with a combination of tomato sauce and buttery rice bring together an abundance of flavour that pays a rich tribute to the culture of Iran.
Next up, we have the Afghani Aush sometimes spelt ‘Aash’ meaning ‘noodle’ in Afghani. Aush is comfort food at its best. It’s a noodle soup consisting of tomato-based broth, filled with chicken chunks and mixed herbs and spices. The flavour is distinct and nothing like any other soup served in Pakistan.
Then comes the classic Zereshk Pulao, also known as “jewelled rice” because of the red barberries in it. The dish is balanced with a hint of sweetness for the perfect taste. The rice is served with Persian chicken gravy. This dish is exotic and simple at the same time and a must-try if you are a fan of any type of rice and chicken gravy.
Last but not least is my favourite Khoresh Gheymeh, which is mutton and split pea stew – a traditional and popular Iranian stew – topped with fried potatoes and served with aromatic white rice. If this doesn’t tickle your taste buds, I would be quite surprised.
Though quarantine and lockdowns have snatched the livelihoods of so many across Pakistan, the silver lining is where courageous women like Elham and Mahum have started their own business with an intent to not only serve classic, authentic Irani/ Afghani food but also the desire to be financially independent.