DEALS & DISCOUNTS--Living in Los Angeles allows us to enjoy food from many different cultures, Persian food especially. So where do you go when you have a craving for delicious homemade stews or rice dishes? You could run down to a popular Persian restaurant, such as the Shamshiri Grill in Westwood or Javan on Santa Monica Boulevard, or you could go down Wilshire Blvd in Santa Monica to my favorite international grocer, Tehran Market, and get your favorite dinner to-go.
I have been a frequent and loyal shopper at Tehran Market for over 20 years. The store is centrally located, an easy stop by for Middle Eastern specialty items like olives, pickles, feta cheese, pistachios, dried figs and cherries, spices, and daily delivered fresh baked goods such as pita and lavash breads. Their produce is super, also fresh. They have the best Persian cucumbers for half the cost as Trader Joes; large bundles of fresh herbs, parsley, mint, cilantro, basil, and dill costing only $.50 per bunch; and row upon row of Sadaf spices and dried herbs at $2 – $4 per package. Check out the freezer with tubs of ice cream coming in saffron, rosewater, pistachio and medjool date flavors. The thought alone makes my mouth water.
About a month ago after shopping for my usual items, I was getting ready to check out noticing something new, pre-packaged meals in disposable plastic containers in the refrigerated counter. On a whim, I asked co-owner Soheil Salimit for a suggestion and took home khoresh ‘eh karafs, or celery stew. Being new to Persian stews, I was pleasantly surprised at the wonderful blends of herbs, beef, and celery in a lemony green sauce, yummy and so healthy. The container cost $6.99 and was enough for three servings. Soheil had just made it that morning. The next day I came back for more buying the lubia polo, rice with green beans and beef, and a few vegetarian dishes for my husband who loved the homemade hummus and sabzi khordan, rice made with green herbs and safron. The following week I brought home fesenjon, pomegranate stew with chicken turning out to be the most delicious dish I have ever tasted.
Here’s the deal – all dishes cost between $3.99 to $6.99. Most portions are large enough to feed a family of three or four, and delicious enough to keep you coming back. For me, buying the packaged meals has turned out to be a wonderful and inexpensive way to get fresh homemade Persian food to home, even Queen Sheharazade would be proud.
Even though Tehran Market has been at the same location in Santa Monica for the past 30 years, Soheil became co-owner only three years ago. His family is in the grocery/food business in Iran and has brought new energy to the store. At all times you will find the shelves well stocked, store impeccably clean, and plenty of parking on the street or in the parking lot off of 14th Street and Wilshire. Most importantly, you likely will meet Soheil as he is always there to welcome.
Polo with Spices (“polo” is rice that is mixed with something)
Polo with Dried Cherries
Lubia Polo (Persian green beans and chunks of beef mixed with rice)
Oliveh (chicken, potatoes, mayo, lemon, peas, pickles, eggs and olive oil) a lot like potato salad, and Sohail claims it is the best sellers!
Tahini and Hummus sauces –Fresh, homemade, low salt, and no preservatives.
Kashk Bademjon – an appetizer made with eggplant and yogurt and garlic.
Ghame stew with beef
Spaghetti with meatballs
HUMMUS, SOUPS & MORE
Sohail is always changing it up, making things without meat for vegetarian fare.
WHAT TO KNOW
1417 Wilshire Blvd
Santa Monica, CA 90403
Monday through Saturday: 8 am – 9 pm
Sunday: 9 am – 8 pm
Sunday: 11 am – 1 pm
(Sue Helmy has plenty of tricks up her sleeve. She is currently providing superb administrative services at a financial management firm in Century City. She is active in countless church and civic organizations and spends every minute she can spare dancing to the Zumba beat.)