When we sat down in the unlit room with nothing but the bright afternoon sun filtering in through the front window, I didn’t know if I had made a huge mistake in coming to Persian Mawlana restaurant in Dickson, which had only been open for a few months where Firestone used to be. My two plates in front of me had multiple stains on it, as soon as I sat down my shoe slipped on a wedge of tomato that was under the table and the drinking glasses were a bit dirty and not matching. I’d hate to be ‘that annoying customer’ but I had a lot of things changed and taken away before all the other guests arrived.
After things had been replaced and they eventually turned on the light, I decided not to let that affect the meal that we were about to try. We didn’t know what to expect as none of us had eaten Persian food before.
I really liked their cutlery, very unusual.
The menu was in a weird format, it starts off (if you read from left to right) with mains and then hot starters underneath followed by cold starters. We ordered a couple of entrees and main meals to share between the 5 of us. I wanted to try their yoghurt drink too as I wanted to try as much as possible and not many cultures have their own unique drink.
Doogh yoghurt drink ($7.00 jug or $3.00 for a glass). The sour yoghurt drink was not for everyone. I dislike sparkling water and it tastes like someone added sparkling water to some sour yoghurt/milk and added some dry herbs. We ordered a jug because it was more economical but we really could have all shared one glass.
Main meals~ “All our main meals are served on NAN bread and dips. All served with Saffron Rice, Grilled Tomato and salad.”
NAN bread and dips. This must be their version of NAN bread, but I was surprised it came out so early. It was a bit curious when we asked what the dip flavours were, the waiter had no idea nor did he try to ask anyone. It turns out one was a chickpea which was very garlicky and the other was carrot. The bread was a bit hard but we made do. They took the bread away before we were finished and before the actual main meals but I thought the bread was supposed to accompany the main meal?
Potato skin grilled potato with skin, cheese and topping of onion and capsicum ($7.00). I don’t know why but I somehow thought ordering a baked potato with its skin on with melted cheese would be an interesting tasting dish with a Persian twist to it. Nope this was just a potato with its skin on with a mild cheese melted on top with a bit of capsicum that wasn’t salty enough and we added more table salt ourselves. Do not waste your time with this underwhelming dish.
Must-o-khiar creamy yoghurt with chopped cucumber and mint ($5.00). A lot like raita, we wanted something cooling to take the edge off what was a very hot day. The bread that was taken away would have been very handy right about now…
Kashk-o-bademjan pan fried eggplant mixed with garlic,mint, onion and kashk ($6.00). I wasn’t expecting a ‘minced away beyond recognition’ eggplant so I was quite surprised when they put this down. This has a very short sharp eggplant taste finished off with an overpowering garlic aftertaste. The yoghurt looking topping tasted like a potent blue vein cheese. All these strong flavours were a bit too much for me, so I often went back to the cucumber dip.
Mahie Polaw marinated and grilled snapper fish, served with saffron rice and BBQ tomato ($20.00). The whole fish was surprisingly really nice and not too many bones. The salad was very fresh and well dressed. It was a promising start to the mains.
Jujeh marinated chicken in saffron, lemon juice on skewer served with saffron rice and BBQ tomato ($18.00). It made it easier to share that the meat was not attached to a skewer, the meat was very tender and moist.
Lamb tikka marinated lamb fillet capsicum, onion on skewer served with saffron rice and BBQ tomato ($19.00). Not as tender as the chicken but a lovely lamb taste. Sharing these mains were more than sufficient because they all come with so much rice and salad. We were a bit confused as to why there was butter on every plate, were we supposed to add it to the meat or the rice? We just left it on the plate.
Qabuli palaw lamb pieces topped with basmati rice, raisins and carrots served with two (koftah) mead (?) balls in a tomato based sauce ($19.00). I wasn’t particularly fond of the rice I chose, but I was keen to try this as I ate something similar at Koochi restaurant and really enjoyed it. The meatballs didn’t really add much to the dish, the rice was rather dry and it just didn’t really have the same vibrant colour as I was used to.
Two koftah balls in a tomato based sauce to accompany the qabuli palaw.
So it turns out that Persian food has very similar elements to Afghan food but I felt that Koochi in Gungahlin did their rice dish much better and their skewered meat was much more moist and flavoursome.
It was nice that they honoured both our entertainment cards considering a lot of businesses get confused when you give them more than one card. Our dinner was heavily discounted but still I don’t think I would be coming here again.
Venue: Persian Mawlana Restaurant
Address: 14 Woolley St, Dickson, ACT
Phone: 02 6247 4447