It was dad's birthday and I needed to find place that would suit all tastes in the family -we are a seriously varied bunch... and so after wading through a lot of reviews, food blogs and the like and I decided to take a chance on Sufi. This is on the 5th floor of Hotel Empire in Koramangala. The place serves Persian food and our previous encounter with the cuisine was at Ayda on Church Street. I was a little worried about the ambiance, since I couldn't really find any info on it. With only Ayda (which is small dull lit and a wee bit cramped) as a reference, I was apprehensive about how comfortable my parents would be. And then we entered Sufi...
For once, my breath was taken away by the expanse of the place and how airy it was. No ACs here, lots of sunshine and lots of fresh air (supplemented with a few fans). The seating is of two kinds, the diwan where you can keep your legs on the floor and if you want to eat the Persian community style then the diwan where you fold your legs beneath you is available too. There is a small gate that is opened, for you to climb onto the diwan and then you settle down.We choose the feet-on-floor version, purely for the birthday boy and his wife.
A partial view of the restaurant
The diwan where you eat Persian style
The menu can take a while going through. There are dedicated sections for vegetarians and non-vegetarians and a complete Indian section for that segment who loves to walk into a specialty place and ask for the mundane. To help us through the order, we asked for Doogh, a yogurt based drink - dried mint, chilli powder, crushed ice all beaten together. Really great!!
We decided on two starters - Baal Konjedi which was chicken wings that have been marinated in a special Persian mix, sprinkled with sesame seeds and then deep fried. The exterior was crisp and crunchy from the coating and the sesame seeds and the meat, soft. Rub that down with the roasted tomato on the platter and you have some wonderful tastes going in the mouth.
The second one was Kebab-e-Koobideh, personal choice of the birthday boy. The thing with most Persian dishes is that the come with Polo/Chelo rice or Kubbus (Naan is the Indian, smaller equivalent). This Kebab dish we asked for with rice so that junior would have what she liked. The kebab were two really long skewers of minced beef and lamb that had been broiled. There were definitely some spices in there. But it is amazing how soft meat can get if treated right and the chefs at Sufi sure know what to do with theirs. The rice comes with a customary blob of butter on top. The kebab was however, worth waging war over.
Now judging from the quantities of the appetizers, we decided to go with just two main course dishes. This was quite a tough decision since most of the dishes sounded fabulous. I settled on Baaghaali Polo Baa Morgh, which is chicken, either the breast or leg that comes with basmati rice that has been cooked with dill and double beans. The meat was fall-off-the-bone soft, with a distinct tomato puree base. The pickled red cabbage on the side gave it the zing it needed since it was not spicy. And who would have thought that rice with double beans is something that would go down as well as it did with the dish. The little blob of butter on the rice should not be missed.
Baaghaali Polo Baa Morgh with the rice below
Mom and dad decided to go in for Lobiya Polo Ba Murgh that had basmati rice with chicken pieces, french beans, all blended together in a tomato sauce and again some interesting spices that I still need a couple of more years of eating experience to figure out the combination to. The picture was before the dish was mixed up and eaten. The chicken and the beans are packed below. Honestly, one spoonful took me back to my Palestinian babysitter's dinner table. Plates used to be licked clean there and this one was too.
Lobiya Polo Ba Murgh
Four and half tummies could not finish all this food and a decent amount was packed up for home (that apart that we skipped dinner that night). But, who can end such a fab meal without a dessert. And so we had Ranginak - this was finely roasted maida and sugar, done in ghee with dates that had been stuffed with walnuts... The dessert looks simple... but heavy would be an understatement. Each of us could just about handle the one date and a bit of the sweet base. It only looks soft and moist, but it has more of a cheesecake base texture.
We wanted to have some tea before we left, but then were so stuffed, we would have passed out on the diwans. The food is fabulous as is the ambiance. The staff are a little absent minded and need to be briefed more on the menu. The food is a bit different from what you are used to, so don't go here thinking its close to Indian cooking with the kebabs and rices, its not, and in some cases can be an acquired taste. We went in the afternoon and the airiness and ambiance were great. All of this came to Rs 1800 including taxes, its on the steep side, but since it was a birthday treat NOT sponsored by me, I was happy. The loos though clean were wet and that can be a bother.
Address: #103, 5th Floor, Empire Building, 5th Block Koramangala- Bangalore
Accepts Cards: Yes
Parking: The parking lot next door which is a nightmare of slush right after the rains