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March 1, 2005 > Alborz, A Culinary Trip to Iran

Alborz, A Culinary Trip to Iran

by Mekala Raman

The Middle East is known as the "cradle of civilization" and often visited to view ancient archeological sites. This area is also known for its variety of foods and unique cooking styles. Persia, known as Iran, has a long history of both. Culinary delights abound in this region. Here, heavy seasonings and "hot" spices are avoided; instead the palette is treated to subtle marinades, grill cooking and, above all, an almost reverent regard for rice.

Superior ingredients, cooking techniques and rice preparation which reaches ultimate and mythical culinary heights in Persian cooking is found at one of the finest restaurants in Tehran, Alborz, and at its namesake in Fremont. Careful preparation of long grain Basmati rice from Pakistan and India ensures that full size and flavor of this grain is retained and savored by diners. Owner Milad Rahim says that although traditional Persian rice called berenj cannot be found here, Basmati is "a very close substitute."

Alborz is the name of a mountain range that stretches from Turkey through the northern portion of Iran and into Afghanistan. Mountains are great blessings for Iran. Water, pastures, forests and other things that exist in Iran are due to the mountains and their effect on weather patterns. The Alborz Mountains have a significant impact on the land and people so when a restaurant bears its name, there is an expectation that here too, people will find something extraordinary.

Dècor is tasteful and displays Persian art including colorful tapestries, crafted dolls and relief art. Pictures and paintings offer a glimpse of Persian life and along with slender vessels and a Persian hookah or huqqu (a water pipe for smoking tobacco) that holds a place of honor. Diners in San Francisco and San Rafael may recognize the restaurant's name since Fremont's Alborz was the inspiration for the two additional locations.

Seyed Mohammad Rezvani, who has been helping customers at Alborz for the last two years, says, "The unique preparation and styles of rice dishes is a signature of Persian cooking." Although rice is celebrated in Persian cooking, grilled meats such as kabobs are flavorful, yet avoid the heavily spiced characteristics of neighboring countries. Food is cooked on a smokeless grill over water without the use of charcoal or baking bricks; "a clean method of cooking."

There is something at Alborz for everyone. Grilled meat dishes include lamb, chicken and beef and seafood, but vegetarians can also take heart. They are not forgotten. Vegetarians (and everyone else!) can choose from refreshing appetizers of Paneer Sabzi (fresh green herbs and feta cheese), Mast-O-Khiar (yogurt, chopped cucumber and dry mint) and Veggie Kabob or Kashk Bodemjan (roasted eggplant with fried onions, garlic, mint and yogurt sauce).

Meat lovers can also rejoice. Try dolma (ground beef seasoned with herbs, rice, and lentils wrapped in grape leaves) for an appetizer and choose from Shrin Polo with Chicken Kabob, Fesenjoon (dry-roasted crushed walnuts cooked in pomegranate sauce and spread over chicken), Koobideh (skewers of beef or chicken served with vegetables and rice), or if you prefer lamb or fish, Baghali Polo (Basmati rice with Lima beans and dillweed and served with the meat). For lunch, Khooresht (stew) of the Day or sandwiches made with lavash (a flat bread similar to the Indian nan) are a refreshing break. Another specialty is Tah Dig, crispy rice that can be served with any kind of stew.

Alborz offers an assortment of sweet deserts including tasty Baklava, Bastani (Persian ice cream), Faloodeh (frozen rice noodles sweetened with rose water), and Bamieh/Zulbia (a fried pastry dipped in honey).

Along with non-alcoholic beverages including tea (a special blend and brew method), coffee, soda, juice, and milk, Alborz carries a wide selection of wines and beer.

Alborz Restaurant
39935 Mission Blvd., Fremont
(510) 440-1755

11 a.m. - 10:30 p.m.
Open every day

Live music and belly dancing
Friday and Saturday

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