I like to participate in life rather than be a spectator. Music, dancing, theatre, travelling, food, cycling and walking are some of my passions. Writing is an enjoyable pastime that allows me to share my experiences.
When in Balmain, drop into Shila Kitchen to sample delicious flavours prepared with a passion for culture and history. Owners Saba and Zoya are passionate about the cuisine of Persia, as are the other friendly members of the team. They all want people to experience the unique and subtle flavours of their cultural heritage. Opening late in 2019, their business model needed to adapt in response to the global pandemic to provide more takeaway, deli and catering options. The cafe is elegantly decorated and has a cabinet of colourful dips and salads, a dessert cabinet and an array of special preserved food items for sale.
The menu has many dishes suitable for vegetarians and a few options for those with vegan and gluten-free diets. For entree, we shared a basket of crispy pita bread and a serve of Mirza (charred eggplant crushed with tomato then slow-cooked with garlic) and Spinach Borani, which is a creamy yogurt, spinach and caramelised onion dip, finished with olive oil. These dips were very moreish, light and fresh and not at all what we were expecting.
The refreshing teas are served in glass teapots so that you can observe the colour intensifying as the brews steep. The mix of sweet and savoury flavours in the Magic Tea - Persian black tea with honey, ginger and fresh lemon was the perfect accompaniment to the meal.
The Beef Ghourmeh Sabzi Stew was great value at $21, the tender slow-cooked beef was coated in a delicious green sauce containing Persian herbs, dried limes kidney beans and turmeric. It was served with saffron rice and sides of a creamy yogurt sauce and a tomato and cucumber salad.
Even though we had eaten enough, there was still room in that special stomach reserved for dessert. After all, who could resist the delicacies in the sweets cabinet. Traditional soft, honey sweet and nutty baklava, as well as a slice of moist, fragrantly spiced Persian love cake, were washed down with Turkish and Persian coffees.
A colourful assortment of deliciousness (image JW)
After our lovely lunch, we decided to take a taste of Persia home. A box of different flavours of sticky, chewy Persian Delight, some more baklava and two jars of preserves were very much appreciated by our family.
We will be returning as there is so much more on the menu that we want to try!