Already back in November, I took an evening class in Persian cooking at Goldhahn & Sampson in my Berlin neighborhood. I had already booked the class when I was still in New York and it was something to look forward to when I was sick of living in Manhattan and longing for Berlin.
Goldhahn & Sampson is my first choice when it comes to cooking classes, not only, because I can walk home afterwards, but also because I have never been disappointed with them before (see here). You get to cook with truly first class products in a great kitchen with a focus on how to prepare the dishes in your own (non-pro) kitchen at home.
The mise-en-place was meticulously prepared by Mani Bakhshpour, our teacher for the evening with Persian roots as well as his assistant, an equally pleasant young woman with Persian roots. Fair enough, I can't compare the cooking classes at G&S to many cooking classes at other places, but what I have always loved about them is that you always get a thorough introduction to all the ingredients you need, which would be the most important to have at home, what to look out for (is your pomegranate syrup really made from pomegranate?) and where to get them in Berlin.
We were loosely divided into groups of two or three and got to choose which of the many dishes we wanted to help prepare. Mani Bakhshpour patiently explained every recipe and helped wherever assistance was necessary. We started with an incredibly tasty Persian salad made from baby spinach and a bunch of different herbs. It was topped off with a slice of flatbread and a Nockerl of goat cheese rolled in Za'atar.
Next, we prepared beans and dill Kuku with braised artichoke and a to-die-for orange and saffron sauce. Persian food is not only rich in flavors (a lot of them, in great combinations) but also incredibly colorful. It's as much a joy for the palate as for the eyes.
Probably my favorite dish was the Persian rice we prepared with an impeccable crust at the bottom. To go with it, we had Ghormeh Sabzi, a type of herb curry which since it contained Halloumi cheese, was probably my least favorite dish of the evening.
The different dips to go with it were however totally to my liking. We had: dates and tamarind chutney, Mast o Chiar, Mast o Borani and Mast o Laboo. I love foods with contrast hot (the rice) cold (the dips), sweet and sour, spicy and soothing.
For dessert, we had a Persian inspired Pavlova, which I admit I was very sketpical about because believe it or not, I don't like whipped cream! The fact that the Pavlova was topped with fresh raspberries and (even better) passionfruit, totally turned the dessert around for me. I mean, how can you not love a dessert topped with those two fruits, right?
All in all, a very pleasant evening which not only taught me a lot about Persian cuisine, but even better made me want to know even more about it. As every dish consists of several smaller dishes, it is a cuisine easy to like (at least I think so). Mani Bakhshpour patiently answered everybody's question on Iran, a country that has considerably climbed the ladder on my places-to-visit-as-soon-as-possible-list, preferably within the new year (I am looking at you, sister!).
copyright of all photos j.