Shabestan

Waiting by a small water fountain for our table to be prepared, we enviously watched Persian flat breads, full of forbidden carbs, being baked in the clay oven. The free yoghurt and cucumber dip wasn’t quite the same as we couldn’t scoop it up with warm bread, but some carrots and cucumber sticks made a reasonable replacement vehicle. Having studied the menu we fully expected the selection of kebab, meat and fish-heavy dishes to fit in perfectly with our low-carb dietary requirements, but sadly it was not to be. Starting off with nargesi – sautéed spinach with garlic and kashk – and Iranian chicken soup, we immediately ran into problems. The soup, although gorgeously flavoured, was full of noodles not mentioned on the menu and thickened with flour or maize, another carbo no-no. The spinach dish was regime-compatible, but eating it on its own did make me feel like something of a diet victim. Moving to mains, my delicious portion of shrimp kebab came infused with very concentrated saffron marinade; I sidestepped the accompanying rice, a little sad at the lack of veg. My companion suffered far more from not being allowed rice, eating his sweet khorest-e-gheimeh mix of lamb, tomato and raisin as a soup rather than a stew. We were a little surprised at the addition of lentils, not mentioned on the menu, which were sadly right off our restrictive agenda. We’ll definitely head for dinner at Shabestan again, but only after we’ve achieved our weight loss goals: the Persian food is beautiful, but as low-carb dieters we felt we put ourselves through unnecessary hardship eating there.

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