When Jaam e Jam opened six years ago nine out of ten hungry diners walking through its doors were from the Sydney’s 7,000 strong Iranian community, hungry for the food of their homeland.
Today, says the owner Arden Majidi, it’s the other way around and most are North Shore locals coming to savour the varied delights of Persian cuisine. It’s testament to this restaurant’s popularity.
Jaam e Jam was packed the night we visited, with a mix of all races, reflecting Hornsby’s cultural diversity. A family-run restaurant, the decoration features scenes from Persian mythology and in keeping with the cuisine which features generations-old recipes. The restaurant’s name is reference in Persian mythology to the cup or Jam being the elixir of immortality.
We start with Must O Mooseer, a yogurt dip laced with Persian garlic, into which we dip Noon Sangak, a dark Persian bread. Accompanying this was the Mirza Ghasemi, an eggplant dip in a tomato base, as well as Kookoo Sabzi, an aromatic herb quiche (without the pastry) which all worked well together as a symphony of flavours introducing us to this delicate and wonderful cuisine.
Onto the mains: this proved to be an extravaganza and procession of platters featuring a range of meats and rices. Koobideh – skewers of marinated minced lamb, succulent and smokey, next to Barg Kebab, a knockout marinated lamb backstrap. Also filling the table were morish Joojeh Kebab – chicken kebabs nestling up to golden saffron rice, and absolutely delicious.
The hero dish of the night for me was the Fesenjan – gooey, slow cooked chicken succulent with walnuts and pomegranates and the most popular stew in Iran. All main meat dishes come with either saffron rice bejewelled with little crimson orbs of berry, or a green flecked dill and saffron rice to mop up juices. The rice, explains owner’s daughter Tina (named after Tina Turner she tells us laughing and not in fact a Persian princess as we had imagined) is twice cooked to dry it out and up the fluffy factor.
Other dishes to entice are Dizi, a slow cooked lamb with white beans and chickpeas served in a stone crock and Torshi, pickled vegetables – all the rage with paleos. Turmeric, parsley, and coriander are used in abundance to perfume and tenderise meats. It’s an ancient and flavoursome way of cooking and one that deserves respect.
Replete, we finish with a shared bowl of delicate saffron yellow ice cream, creamy and soothing after the main meals. Other desserts include Baklava and Phaloodeh – frozen sweet rice noodles with rosewater.
“Our chef Ali Razaghi’s inspiration started from his experience of cooking with his grandma,” says owner Arden Majidi. “For him, and everyone who works with us, it’s not only the taste of food that matters, it’s the healthiness and freshness of ingredients. It’s through a wide selection of ingredients, the love he puts in cooking and fresh foods that he’s able to create such tasty and healthy dishes.”
The portions are more than generous, the service efficient and the prices reasonable. Thanks to this hard-working family, the North Shore is benefiting from the passion and culinary wisdom of thousands of years of Persian cuisine, and all the better for it.