CHEF and restaurateur Ali Amini Fard shares foods from his homeland with TAN BEE HONG.
YOU can´t miss Taktaz, an Iranian restaurant located right across the road from South City Plaza in Serdang. You will be drawn to the blue fountain at the entrance and the colourful blankets draped over long benches in a cosy corner where customers enjoy the shisha pipe.
Restaurateur Ali Amini Fard, 45, says this is how Iranians do it back home, putting up their feet and relaxing with family and friends.
Taktaz is a no-frills restaurant, with prices to match. Before he started the restaurant six years ago, Amini was with the Iranian Foreign Service for 17 years, spending seven in the kitchen of the embassy in Kuala Lumpur.
Slice of pizza
We arrive to find Amini making pizza at the front. Instead of tomato sauce base, Amini makes his own sauce with avisan spices, tomato and butter. Subtle in taste, it allows the flavours of the toppings to shine through. We ask for lamb and chicken with olives on two halves. The pizza comes in two sizes and a small one makes a great appetiser. I love how Amini liberally tops it with grated cheese before popping it into the oven.
When it arrives, the smell is enough to awaken our senses. We quickly grab a wedge and sink our teeth into the hot pizza. A guzzle of fruity Barbican non-alcoholic beer (RM3.50) makes it all perfect.
Rice is nice
Rice at Taktaz is always colourful, with white rice topped with saffron rice and a sprinkle of bright red barberries, said to be good for health.
Amini has created a few new rice dishes. The lamb shank with vegetable rice (RM42) is enough for two. A generous serving of rice, tinged green with dill and fresh broad beans, is topped with white and saffron rice. The dill offers a lovely hint of herbs and the broad beans, a soft texture that contrasts with the al dente grains of rice. Spoon some gravy over the rice for added flavour.
On the side are salad greens and the whole lamb shank. The lamb is tender and best of all, moist. I´m tempted to pick up the whole bone to lick.
Tahchin Morgh (RM11.90) is baked rice in a square slab. Beautifully golden from the saffron, the two layers of rice come with shredded chicken sandwiched in between and a sprinkle of ruby-red barberries on top. The rice is compressed and baked.
Akbar Joojee or chicken with pomegranate sauce, is a customer favourite. The grilled chicken is served whole or in half with the tangy, fruity sauce poured over and served with Iranian rice.
Hot off the grill
Meaty kebabs (from RM11.90) are what customers keep coming back for and Taktaz offers a wide range. You can even get fish kebab.
I prefer the meats, though. These come minced or cut into cubes and skewered for grilling - from sultani kebab and bakhtiari kebab to koobide kebab and mixed kebab. The meats are soft, well-marinated and succulent. Amini shakes some sumac (spices) from a container over my kebab to add to the flavour.
One particular kebab catches my fancy. The negiri kebab (RM20) has two rolls of minced lamb kebab interjected with cubes of chicken in between. The contrasting colours of the saffron-hued chicken and dark lamb presents a pretty appetising picture too. And you get two tastes in one roll.
I enjoy the kebabs with Iranian saffron rice and side salads of shirazi salad (RM3.50), made with diced tomato, cucumber, onion and mayonnaise, as well as the piquant torshi-e-liteh (RM3.50), a dish of pickled eggplant and herbs.
Ramadan sweet treats
Dates are common enough but bamiyeh is a lovely sweet to break fast with or to end the meal. This deep-fried pastry, made from yogurt and flour, is dipped in syrup and has a lovely scent of rose.
Taktaz is open daily from 11.30am to midnight.
B-G-3 Block B
Persiaran Serdang Perdana
Taman Serdang Perdana
Seri Kembangan, Selangor
Tel: 03-8941 3364