Time. Expunged by the fast food movement; too often glossed over in recipes; and what so many modern cooks cannot afford. Yet, time is the universal formula that generations before us have depended upon to make a fine meal. And it forms the essence of Chef Moghadam Najari’s beautiful cooking.
Like a stately ambassador of Persian food in Doha, the chef adheres to a classic repertoire. He infuses his dishes with the delicate persuasion of saffron, sweetens his meat with fruits, and employs walnuts and pistachio for crunch – nothing iconoclastic for the cuisine. But it is the invisible, that investment of time and patience that sets Parisa in Doha’s Sharq Village and Spa in a glittering league of its own.
Take the kuftey-e-tabrizi. On paper, it’s a lentil and rice meatball. A single bite, however, releases the flavour of lamb and apricots and prunes, all simmered together for hours but each still retaining its character. Simply put, it is an orb of magnificence.
Another example: mirza ghasemi. What’s described as grilled eggplant with tomato and garlic masks the toil behind stewing charred aubergine with eggs and spices over slow fire, resulting in a puree bursting with deliciousness.
Whether intended or not, the appetisers here command attention. The salad-e shirazi is so dainty that every cucumber, tomato and onion is chopped to a punctilious brunoise cut. Individual bowls of yogurt with rose and raisins called mast-o-khiar are refreshing and mandatory (you won’t want to share yours). And a concoction of fried-eggplant with sun-dried yogurt and mint topped with crispy garlic and onion had us smacking lips in a manner almost unfitting for this sophisticated Doha restaurant.
There were several other highlights: saffron-dyed shrimps, succulent lamb chops and tender beef, all served on a charcoal tabletop grill and bearing the hallmarks of a protracted marinade. Oh, and koresht-e ghorme sabzi — kidney beans and spinach forced to fraternise with lamb and dried limes in a claypot… the dish is unforgettable.
Just when you think Chef Najari is the consummate traditionalist, he produces a brulee zaferan for dessert. Saffron crème brulee — the best of Persian and French dining on an open plate topped with saffron ice-cream. This is the stuff of dreams.
It’s hard to ignore that the terrace offers a view of kings, and that the attentive yet non-invasive service puts many hotels and restaurants in Doha to shame. But above all, it is the food that leaves the greatest impression.
And to savour a meal at Parisa, we offer one tip:
Take your time.
Parisa – Sharq Village & Spa
Tel: +974 4015 8888
Set Menus with starter, kebab, clay pot stew & Dessert: QR250-QR285
**A version of this article appeared on the website What To Do? Where To Go? Qatar**