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What to Eat During Nowruz in London

Everything from chello kebab to various khoreshts, here are the best spots in the city as Haft-sin returns to restaurant tables

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This year, Nowruz falls on 20 March. Celebrated by communities across Asia and the Balkans, it marks the beginning of spring, and the first day of the first month, Farvardin, in the Iranian calendar.

In addition to the “Haft-sin” spread, featuring seven symbolic items to the new year, the food is truly something to talk about. Traditionally, dishes include sabzi polo ba mahi, rice with herbs and fried fish; kookoo sabzi, heavily herbed whipped eggs cooked in a pan; reshteh polo, vine leaves stuffed with lamb to make dolmeh barg; and shirin polo, a sweet rice. However, all manner of classic Persian dishes can be enjoyed as part of the new year celebrations.

As is the case with most cultural festivities, a big part of this day is gathering round a huge feast of delicious Persian dishes. Here’s where to find them in London.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.
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Diba Restaurant (Richmond)

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Diba is the perfect Persian spot for south west Londoners. A key dish when ordering is the lobiya polo gardan: the traditional rice and green beans dish but with lamb neck as opposed to the more commonly used leg or shoulder. The baghali polo — dill rice with broad beans — is another excellent choice.

Using fresh and organic produce, standout dishes on the menu include the kabab torsh — chargrilled lamb in pomegranate juice — and the restaurant’s anar beech, a stew of pomegranate, walnuts, fresh herbs and chicken served with saffron rice.

Berenjak

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Berenjak is one of the more central spots to find Persian food. Focusing on small mazeh — taste in Farsi — style dishes and chargrilled kebabs, the jujeh kabab is one of the tastier dishes, available marinated in classic saffron or as a tond — hot in Farsi — version, with chilli, and somagh.

A longstanding favourite among the Persian community in London, Hafez always has lengthy queues or booked up reservations when open for dining. When placing the takeaway order, make sure to try one of the khoreshts/stews, with the fesenjan — chicken in a pomegranate and walnut sauce — being the restaurant’s signature dish.

Kish Express (East Acton)

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A little gem in Acton, Kish Express is a firm favourite among locals. It’s still soup season so definitely place an order for ash-e-reshteh, a traditional Persian soup with herbs, beans and noodles. For mains, the best bet this Nowruz is its mahi kebab, grilled sea bass with saffron rice.

Caspian Sandwich Bar

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Ideal for those looking for a more casual way to celebrate Nowruz, this spot serves up Iranian street food via a series of speciality baguettes. The bandari — beef sausage — and olivieh — Persian potato salad — are excellent but the best ones are maghaz and zaban: seasoned lamb brain and beef tongue.

Behesht Restaurant (Kensal Green)

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Serving up authentic Persian cuisine, this restaurant’s menu features a variety of delicious dishes. Indulge for the occasion and order the chello kebab makhsous or ghafghazi — so there is a feast of either both lamb fillet and minced lamb or lamb fillet and chicken fillet.

Lavash Persian Restaurant

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Another OG in Persian cuisine in London, Lavash is an excellent choice for the Iranian New Year meal. The best dishes to order are the tahchin, crispy rice cake with chicken which also includes aubergine, and the classic sabzi polo mahi, so the traditional herb rice with sea bass can be enjoyed for Nowruz.

Abshar Restaurant (Croydon)

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A strong contender among Persian restaurants in London, Croydon residents are lucky to have Abshar. A must-order starter is the kashk-e-bademjan, fried aubergine with walnuts, and Persian kashk (whey). Mains-wise, don’t miss out on the joojeh kebab on the bone, one of the most flavoursome grills on the menu.

Sadaf Restaurant (Garden)

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Most people order one of the kebab meals at this Iranian restaurant. Opt for the kebab soltani, to get a mix of koobideh (minced lamb) and barg (lamb fillet). Its lamb chops are also noteworthy.

Mahdi Restaurant

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Mahdi is one of the few places that serves soup jo — a tomato-based barley soup — so definitely order that to start. Its kebab grills are impressive in both taste and presentation, but it’s the zereshk polo and khoresh morgh — rice with barberries and chicken stew — that are ones to order.

Sufi Restaurant

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Both the khoresh gheimeh, lamb stew with split peas, and the gormeh sabzi, lamb stew with herbs and kidney beans, at Sufi are really excellent. The gormeh sabzi comes as a main, as well as on top of tahdig, Persian crispy rice, in starter form — whichever is the preference.

Eram Shishlik

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A great Iranian spot in West Ealing, the meat is cooked particularly well at this restaurant. Considering it forms part of its namesake, the dish to get at this Persian palace is the shishlikeh shandiz or Persian style lamb chops). Super succulent and bursting with flavour, order double to ensure no one misses out — and consider the lamb neck, with its melting onions.

Alounak Restaurant Bayswater

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The chargrilled kebabs are excellent at this popular Persian eatery. But Alounak’s Saturday special is baghali polo, broad bean stew with dill rice and lamb shank, and as Nowruz falls on the weekend this year, it’s an excellent alternative to sabzi polo ba mahi, the herb rice with fish.

Aquarium Persian Restaurant مطعم الایرانی‌

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Aquarium is the type of place where a full chello kebab dinner is ordered, mainly because it doesn’t serve any stews. Start with mast-o-musir, the famous yoghurt and dried wild shallot dip, with bread, and choose the mixed special for mains, featuring minced, fillet and chicken kebabs. Add some creamy doogh to drink to the order too.

Kish Persian Restaurant

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Kish is another hidden Persian gem. Salad olivieh is a nostalgic dish, and eating it in a restaurant is often anti-climatic — but Kish ticks the box. It also serves dizi or ab goosht, which translates as meat broth. This potato and lamb stew is a staple in Iran and the epitome of the country’s soul food.

Pizza Parseh

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Don’t be fooled by the ‘Pizza’ in the shop sign, for this Persian takeaway spot is underrated. The best starters are the dolmeh (fitting for Nowruz) and tahdig with khoresht, the classic Persian crispy rice with a stew, while the parseh special — a mixed platter of kebabs — is the must-order.

Apadana Persian Restaurant مطعم ابادانا الإيراني

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One of London’s oldest Persian haunts, this restaurant is dedicated to serving up classic Iranian food. Its sea bass dish is served with saffron rice, rather than sabzi polo, but it’s still one to order if eating traditionally is the aim for Nowruz.

Colbeh Restaurant

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Enjoy Colbeh’s Persian cuisine at home for the new year. The chargrilled kebabs are the menu highlight here, with the best dish being the chelo kabab koobideh or minced lamb. All are good but koobideh is a classic and particularly full of flavour at Colbeh.

Ariana Restaurant

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Afghani restaurant Ariana also serves lots of classic Persian dishes for its Iranian customers. Start the meal with kuku-e-sabzi, the afore-mentioned green herbed eggs, and enjoy ghemeh badenjan, a lamb and aubergine stew with split peas for the main course.

Maryam's Kitchen

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Maryam Shams’ restaurant in Ealing has come back strong to dining in, after acting as a community hub for local school meals during COVID-19 lockdowns. Its Nowruz menu is yet to be announced, but expect the ceremonial dishes for which it is famous. Weekly lunchtime boxes are also available, with rotating monthly specials.

Diba Restaurant (Richmond)

Diba is the perfect Persian spot for south west Londoners. A key dish when ordering is the lobiya polo gardan: the traditional rice and green beans dish but with lamb neck as opposed to the more commonly used leg or shoulder. The baghali polo — dill rice with broad beans — is another excellent choice.

Kateh

Using fresh and organic produce, standout dishes on the menu include the kabab torsh — chargrilled lamb in pomegranate juice — and the restaurant’s anar beech, a stew of pomegranate, walnuts, fresh herbs and chicken served with saffron rice.

Berenjak

Berenjak is one of the more central spots to find Persian food. Focusing on small mazeh — taste in Farsi — style dishes and chargrilled kebabs, the jujeh kabab is one of the tastier dishes, available marinated in classic saffron or as a tond — hot in Farsi — version, with chilli, and somagh.

Hafez

A longstanding favourite among the Persian community in London, Hafez always has lengthy queues or booked up reservations when open for dining. When placing the takeaway order, make sure to try one of the khoreshts/stews, with the fesenjan — chicken in a pomegranate and walnut sauce — being the restaurant’s signature dish.

Kish Express (East Acton)

A little gem in Acton, Kish Express is a firm favourite among locals. It’s still soup season so definitely place an order for ash-e-reshteh, a traditional Persian soup with herbs, beans and noodles. For mains, the best bet this Nowruz is its mahi kebab, grilled sea bass with saffron rice.

Caspian Sandwich Bar

Ideal for those looking for a more casual way to celebrate Nowruz, this spot serves up Iranian street food via a series of speciality baguettes. The bandari — beef sausage — and olivieh — Persian potato salad — are excellent but the best ones are maghaz and zaban: seasoned lamb brain and beef tongue.

Behesht Restaurant (Kensal Green)

Serving up authentic Persian cuisine, this restaurant’s menu features a variety of delicious dishes. Indulge for the occasion and order the chello kebab makhsous or ghafghazi — so there is a feast of either both lamb fillet and minced lamb or lamb fillet and chicken fillet.

Lavash Persian Restaurant

Another OG in Persian cuisine in London, Lavash is an excellent choice for the Iranian New Year meal. The best dishes to order are the tahchin, crispy rice cake with chicken which also includes aubergine, and the classic sabzi polo mahi, so the traditional herb rice with sea bass can be enjoyed for Nowruz.

Abshar Restaurant (Croydon)

A strong contender among Persian restaurants in London, Croydon residents are lucky to have Abshar. A must-order starter is the kashk-e-bademjan, fried aubergine with walnuts, and Persian kashk (whey). Mains-wise, don’t miss out on the joojeh kebab on the bone, one of the most flavoursome grills on the menu.

Sadaf Restaurant (Garden)

Most people order one of the kebab meals at this Iranian restaurant. Opt for the kebab soltani, to get a mix of koobideh (minced lamb) and barg (lamb fillet). Its lamb chops are also noteworthy.

Mahdi Restaurant

Mahdi is one of the few places that serves soup jo — a tomato-based barley soup — so definitely order that to start. Its kebab grills are impressive in both taste and presentation, but it’s the zereshk polo and khoresh morgh — rice with barberries and chicken stew — that are ones to order.

Sufi Restaurant

Both the khoresh gheimeh, lamb stew with split peas, and the gormeh sabzi, lamb stew with herbs and kidney beans, at Sufi are really excellent. The gormeh sabzi comes as a main, as well as on top of tahdig, Persian crispy rice, in starter form — whichever is the preference.

Eram Shishlik

A great Iranian spot in West Ealing, the meat is cooked particularly well at this restaurant. Considering it forms part of its namesake, the dish to get at this Persian palace is the shishlikeh shandiz or Persian style lamb chops). Super succulent and bursting with flavour, order double to ensure no one misses out — and consider the lamb neck, with its melting onions.

Alounak Restaurant Bayswater

The chargrilled kebabs are excellent at this popular Persian eatery. But Alounak’s Saturday special is baghali polo, broad bean stew with dill rice and lamb shank, and as Nowruz falls on the weekend this year, it’s an excellent alternative to sabzi polo ba mahi, the herb rice with fish.

Aquarium Persian Restaurant مطعم الایرانی‌

Aquarium is the type of place where a full chello kebab dinner is ordered, mainly because it doesn’t serve any stews. Start with mast-o-musir, the famous yoghurt and dried wild shallot dip, with bread, and choose the mixed special for mains, featuring minced, fillet and chicken kebabs. Add some creamy doogh to drink to the order too.

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Kish Persian Restaurant

Kish is another hidden Persian gem. Salad olivieh is a nostalgic dish, and eating it in a restaurant is often anti-climatic — but Kish ticks the box. It also serves dizi or ab goosht, which translates as meat broth. This potato and lamb stew is a staple in Iran and the epitome of the country’s soul food.

Pizza Parseh

Don’t be fooled by the ‘Pizza’ in the shop sign, for this Persian takeaway spot is underrated. The best starters are the dolmeh (fitting for Nowruz) and tahdig with khoresht, the classic Persian crispy rice with a stew, while the parseh special — a mixed platter of kebabs — is the must-order.

Apadana Persian Restaurant مطعم ابادانا الإيراني

One of London’s oldest Persian haunts, this restaurant is dedicated to serving up classic Iranian food. Its sea bass dish is served with saffron rice, rather than sabzi polo, but it’s still one to order if eating traditionally is the aim for Nowruz.

Colbeh Restaurant

Enjoy Colbeh’s Persian cuisine at home for the new year. The chargrilled kebabs are the menu highlight here, with the best dish being the chelo kabab koobideh or minced lamb. All are good but koobideh is a classic and particularly full of flavour at Colbeh.

Ariana Restaurant

Afghani restaurant Ariana also serves lots of classic Persian dishes for its Iranian customers. Start the meal with kuku-e-sabzi, the afore-mentioned green herbed eggs, and enjoy ghemeh badenjan, a lamb and aubergine stew with split peas for the main course.

Maryam's Kitchen

Maryam Shams’ restaurant in Ealing has come back strong to dining in, after acting as a community hub for local school meals during COVID-19 lockdowns. Its Nowruz menu is yet to be announced, but expect the ceremonial dishes for which it is famous. Weekly lunchtime boxes are also available, with rotating monthly specials.

Related Maps