Rice is the most important side dish to accompany Gheimeh Bademjan, a lamb goulash made with eggplant and yellow split peas. And no one cooks rice like an Iranian, says Saeed Sanatpour of Saray.
Saeed Sanatpour: "Iranians are very close to their mothers."
Sometimes life doesn't go exactly according to plan. That's a lesson Saeed Sanatpour knows all too well. In 1979, he moved from Iran to Berlin to study communications engineering.
He intended to move back to his home country after finishing his studies, but when the Iranian Revolution broke out, he decided to stay in Berlin after all. He never ended up working in the field of communications. Instead, he opened a Persian restaurant. There, he offers Persian dishes, like his mother used to cook, with herbs like mint, estragon and basil.
Saray in Berlin's Wilmersdorf district
Saray is located in Wilmersdorf, in the western part of the city. While Saeed Sanatpour doesn't take an active role in the kitchen, he makes sure true Persian dishes land on the table.
Peel eggplants, cut lengthwise in 1-cm slices and salt. Allow to sit for four hours. Rinse split peas with cold water and allow to soak for several minutes. Heat oil in a pot and sauté diced onions. Cube lamb, add to pan, and sear. Spice with salt, pepper, and turmeric.
Drain split peas in a sieve and add to meat. Add tomato paste and sauté for 1 - 2 minutes. Deglaze with around four cups of water. Add tomato, saffron, and limes, place lid on pot, and simmer at low heat for 60 to 90 minutes.
Rinse salted eggplant slices in cold water, pat dry, and season with turmeric. Heat plenty of oil in a pan, and fry eggplants on both sides until golden brown. Set aside.
Carefully add the eggplant slices to the sauce, season with salt and pepper to taste, and allow to simmer for an additional 15 minutes. Serve with basmati rice.
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