When you have eaten at Sofreh, the four-year-old Persian restaurant in a Brooklyn brownstone, likelihood is you realize its mast-o musir, a yogurt dip. The primary stuff you see are chips of dried musir, the Iranian wild shallot, prized for its courtly however distinct whiff of garlic. Beneath it is a mattress of musir-enriched yogurt. It has a richness that places you in thoughts of custard and a bitter streak that makes your mouth water.
One of many unique cooks at Sofreh, Ali Saboor, not too long ago opened his personal Persian restaurant in Brooklyn. Its title is Eyval, its neighborhood is Bushwick and its yogurt is much more scrumptious.
Eyval has its personal spin on mast-o musir, topped with some pickled musir in a spicy pool of turmeric oil. However the restaurant’s larger contribution towards advancing the reason for yogurt in New York Metropolis lies in Mr. Saboor’s reconsideration of one other yogurt dip, or class of dips, referred to as the borani.
A typical borani entails folding cooked eggplant or one other vegetable into strained yogurt. The greens in Eyval’s boranis are typically some seasonal deal with, like grilled fiddleheads in brown butter or small, spring-green fava beans slicked with mint oil, and they aren’t combined into the yogurt. They relaxation on prime of it, in a bit hole, just like the pothole I make in my mashed potatoes on Thanksgiving so the gravy may have someplace to go.
Concentrating the greens within the heart implies that any given swipe of bread into the borani will dredge up a good quantity of pure, undiluted yogurt, which may be appreciated by itself phrases. I’ve loved many yogurt dips in my life, however the boranis at Eyval often is the first yogurt dips towards which I’ve felt one thing like need.
I point out this not simply because I hope you’ll attempt a borani at Eyval, but additionally as a result of it illustrates among the methods Mr. Saboor, has expanded on the Persian themes he first explored at Sofreh.
There, he began by serving to Nasim Alikhani, an proprietor, adapt the stews, aromatic platters of basmati rice and different recipes that had made invites to her home a lot wanted by pals. He had cooked in eating places; she hadn’t. At Eyval, which opened in March with monetary backing from Theodore Petroulas, Ms. Alikhani’s husband and her accomplice in Sofreh, Mr. Saboor turns his consideration from the house to the streets, notably the grilled kebabs eaten throughout Iran.
A follow-up restaurant centered on road meals would possibly counsel an easier menu, simpler recipes, extra restricted flavors. None of that applies at Eyval. The parts are usually small; a single skewer makes a serving. However behind every plate is an understanding of the methods Persian components like black lime and barberries create little detonations of taste, in addition to a certain sense of when a number of drops of rosewater will forged the fitting spell and when the high-pitched sourness of unripe grapes is simply the factor.
Eyval’s rooster kebab is not any mere stick of meat. It’s a reimagining of zereshk polo morgh, the dependable mixture of basmati rice, stewed rooster and barberries that has pacified hungry visitors at numerous Persian dinner events. The grill places crisp golden pores and skin on the rooster, and the scent of smoke. On prime are the fried onions and tart little dried barberries, and beneath is a chicken-tomato broth, fragrant with saffron. All the fitting issues are there, right down to the separate plate of rice, however they arrive collectively in new methods.
The koobideh, alternatively, is undeniably a stick of meat. However what meat it’s. Mr. Saboor grinds lamb shoulder and beef brisket, a fatty minimize many cooks depend on to provide a self-basting burger. Minimally seasoned, it makes an unusually tender, virtually delicate kebab.
Then there’s the mushroom kebab. It isn’t meat, neither is it served on a stick, however it could be essentially the most attention-grabbing factor on the menu. King trumpet mushrooms are grilled till they’re as caramelized and juicy as sea scallops. They’re paired with pickled beech mushrooms, and each are tied collectively by a creamy stew of beluga lentils. From these totally earthy components, Mr. Saboor has constructed one thing elegant.
The setting is a graffiti-scrawled nook constructing subsequent to a classic clothes store. Going through the restaurant, throughout a car parking zone, is Roberta’s, which first introduced this model of dynamic, ingredient-conscious small plates to the realm. Till final month, the Eyval individuals ran a Persian teahouse subsequent door, Sofreh Cafe, the place very nice baked items reminiscent of glazed pirashki full of rosewater custard would materialize all through the day.
A few of these objects survived the cafe. On sure nights a meal at Eyval might begin with a small loaf of komaj, vaguely candy and dotted with cumin seeds. There’s virtually at all times barbari, the important Persian flatbread, a protracted, grooved oval with sesame and nigella seeds embedded in its crackling crust. Amongst different issues, barbari is a perfect implement for scooping up yogurt.
The kitchen, organized round two charcoal-burning grills, sits between Eyval’s two eating rooms like a hinge. One room has a cocktail bar, and the opposite has a clean wall on which an previous live performance by the exiled Iranian pop star Googoosh is normally being projected. Each rooms are lined in subway tiles and may be numbingly loud when full, which they typically are. And, like many eating places now, Eyval typically falls in need of its service objectives, so your expertise on the desk could not come as much as the requirements set by the cooking crew.
Its accomplishments transcend kebabs. There are hunks of Persian cucumber, sticky with date molasses that holds a thick, smoky coating of Urfa pepper flakes. Watermelon and feta salad, a success at Sofreh, is tart and citrusy underneath a nice powder of dried lime. In potato tahdig, tender saffron rice lies beneath a skinny, crisp, golden rectangle of sliced potatoes to kind a form of upside-down tart of starch layered on starch.
Whereas Eyval emphasizes crisp, crunchy and shortly cooked components, it does have a few braises which are among the many most conventional objects on the menu. There’s ghormeh sabzi, chopped herbs and greens simmered with fenugreek right into a darkish, tangy pulp and served with a formidable veal shank, minimize throughout the bone as if for osso buco. Gheymeh bademjan, lamb stewed with spices in tomatoes soured with unripe grapes, is garnished with a complete grilled eggplant and a heaping fistful of French fries. Naturally, this comes with rice.
I can’t be the one one who’s hoping that the dessert menu will develop to incorporate among the biggest hits from Sofreh Cafe. Till then, there’s a yogurt pudding perfumed with rosewater and, extra alluringly, a thick slab of saffron ice cream sandwiched between two raisin cookies.