A yoghurt dip called mast-o musir may be familiar to anybody who has eaten at Sofreh, the four-year-old Persian eatery located in a Brooklyn brownstone. Dry musir (the Iranian wild shallot) is the first item you notice in the shop because of its courtly yet unmistakable garlic scent. A layer of musir-enhanced yoghurt lies underneath. When you taste it, you’ll be reminded of custard, and the little sourness will have you salivating.
A former Sofreh chef, Ali Saboor, has just started a Persian restaurant in Brooklyn, New York City. Located in Bushwick, Eyval is known for its wonderful yoghurt.
Mast-o musir at Eyval is served with pickled musir in a hot pool of turmeric oil, which gives it a unique flavour. As a result of Mr. Saboor’s reinvigorated interest in the class of borani yoghurt dips, New York City’s yoghurt scene has grown significantly.
Cooked eggplant or similar vegetable is folded into strained yoghurt in a classic borani. If you’re looking for something seasonal, you’ll find Eyval’s boranis to include grilled fiddleheads in brown butter or little spring-green fava beans slathered in mint oil. Like the pothole in my mashed potatoes on Thanksgiving, they lay on top of it in a tiny hollow, so that the gravy has someplace to go.
The veggies are concentrated in the middle of the borani, which means that every bread swipe into the borani will provide a significant quantity of pure, unadulterated yoghurt. For the first time in my life, I’ve had a strong urge to eat boranis, a yoghurt dip served at Eyval.
Aside from the fact that I’d want to encourage you to visit Eyval and sample one of their boranis, this serves as an example of how Mr. Saboor has built on the Persian themes he initially explored at Sofreh.
Nasim Alikhani’s recipes for fragrant basmati rice and other hearty stews had long been a favourite of friends, and he began by assisting her in adapting them for his own palate. In contrast to her, he had experience working as a chef in a restaurant kitchen. With Theodore Petroulas, Ms. Alikhani’s husband and her business partner in Sofreh, funding Eyval, Mr. Saboor shifts his focus away from the house and toward street food, notably grilled kebabs, which are popular in Iran.
It’s possible that a restaurant specialising on street cuisine might provide a menu with fewer options, simpler recipes, and fewer tastes. At Eyval, none of it is an issue. A single skewer serves as a single piece in most cases. There is an awareness of how Persian ingredients like black lime and barberries generate small detonations of taste, along with a sure sense of when a few drops of rosewater will cast the perfect spell and when the high-pitched sourness of unripe grape is exactly the thing.
Chicken kebab is not only a piece of meat for Eyval’s kebabs. Basmati rice, stewed chicken, and barberries are the main ingredients in this new take on the traditional Persian dish zereshk polo morgh. The chicken’s golden skin and smoky aroma are the result of the grilling process. There are fried onions and dried barberries on top, and a chicken-tomato soup with saffron aromas lies underneath. Everything is present, even down to the individual dish of rice, but it’s put together in fresh and interesting ways because of it.
In contrast, the koobideh is clearly a meat stick. But this is a lot of flesh. A fatty chunk of meat known as beef brisket is used by Mr. Saboor to make his self-basting burgers. It produces a kebab that is particularly soft, almost delicate, due to its lack of seasoning.