Vatan Persian Restaurant
Not satisfied with run of the mill bacon & eggs, we went n search of something with more, balls….
Well, we didn’t find balls per se, but we did locate our own and smash an Iranian feast of lamb’s head soup with tongue, cheek and brains… yum yum!
Extra mile- 7
Budget – low
*Scores are out of 10
Vatan Persian rating – 33.5/50 on a medium budget
Our normal Sunday breakfast routine was jolted into a new experience with our trip to a ‘never been before’ part of Sydney. At 8am we meet an Iranian friend of ours and headed out to Auburn to experience a traditional Persian breaky – Kaleh Pacheh. We meet another friend there (also of Iranian descent) and settled into a modest restaurant that oozed with smells of slow cooked meat.
Kaleh Pacheh is not for the feint hearted – in fact it is for the hardcore, whose stomach (and taste buds) can cope with the idea of eating slowly cooked lambs brain, eyes, tongue and cheek. Apparently it is an acquired taste, but for the boys we were with it is something that is remnant of their childhoods and is to them what a hearty roast is to us.
MC and I were up for the challenge, and even though the idea of eating brains in a soup for breakfast was a little on the stomach churning side I was willing to give it a go. Besides, it is a rare opportunity to be taken somewhere that serves up authentic food such as that.
It was good that we were accompanied by the boys, as Farsi seemed to be the only language spoken, and had we gone there alone, I’m not sure we would’ve been able to order what we wanted. Being the only non-Persians in there, I sensed that our street cred was about to be increased (which according to a text received after we had left, certainly had).
Kaleh Pacheh is bought out in two stages – the first being a broth or soup that has small bits of lamb’s brain floating in it. It is served with the most incredible freshly cooked Persian bread, and the idea is to break it all up into the soup and let it soak up the juices. Sides such as pickles, lemon and spices are added at your own discretion.
The second round involves a plate being bought out on which there is a selection of lambs tongue, cheek, brains and if you dare ask for it, eyes. No-one at our table asked for eyes – I suspect that is a delicacy reserved for the super hardcore! Again a pile of fresh bread is bought out, and so too is another bowl of soup with its side accompaniments. By this stage, the soup alone had my tummy expanding, so I ate the offal on its own with a drizzle of lemon juice on top.
Whilst there was an initial hesitation given the ‘brains’ issue, I soon got over that and was able to enjoy what was a delicious, although very different meal. A hearty and nourishing way to start the day.
Yeah, hearty and nourishing alright! And yeah, filling… I couldn’t touch my second bowl of soup, but did manage to polish off my meat – the brains, tongue and cheek – but was somewhat rounder in the stomach area afterwards.
Having spoken to Franco and Kev about this at depth, it’s not the kind of dish that is a regular on Iranian breakfast tables, but more of a now-and-then thing, with the immense preparation and are needed preventing a high frequency.
In fact they have kept with this tradition, themselves only having it every now and then, so much so that we’ve been talking about going on their next outing, which this was, for months.
In saying that, it is the kind of breakfast that really does start off your day well. Containing some beneficial protein, saturated fat, valuable micronutrients and incredibly fresh cholesterol.
Yes, ‘fresh cholesterol’ is a term. Albeit one that I just made up, but I think one that might stick.
The kind of fat and cholesterol that this soup and brains in particular contain are very ‘heart healthy’, and I recommend trying to include in your diet regularly. Of course you can get them from other sources, but offal really punches above its weight for nutrition, so if you can get past the fact that these meats are ‘icky’ and realise that they’re just meat, you’ll be so much better off.
Hmmmm, fresh cholesterol…..
Anyway, I think we all know my love and strong affection for offal in everyone’s diets. Which is what makes the Iranian’s now officially in some of my favourite people. Kaleh Pacheh was awesome, and the experience itself with Franco, Kev and the other Persian diners was most definitely a different breakfast to one I’ve had in a while and will do for another while I’d think.
If you’re brave, search it out and have some. This one in Auburn in Sydney’s west comes highly recommended, not just by us Kiwi’, but by the experts- Kev and Franco.
Also learning of their different stories about leaving Iran as young boys with their families, seeking refuge in New Zealand and fleeing a country at war, was an amazing way to finish a meal. Such incredible stories, making growing up in NZ and running round the back yard with my mates seem so outrageously tame, and lucky. Chur fullas!
How does Kaleh Pacheh compare to how I did brains last year– so much better!
MC & NN