The dish: Naab-Goosht
We try out the exotic Iranian stew cooked with mutton and tomato paste in a claypot. By Kong Wai Yeng
What it is
Naab Restaurant insists that Iranian cuisine should not be lumped under the category of Middle Eastern food. We were told that ‘Iranian food stresses on balance, using just enough herbs and spices to bring out the flavours of the natural ingredients. The flavours should never fight each other. Unlike other Middle Eastern cuisines that may come across as too meat heavy, Iranian food emphasises on the nutritional value and presentation of each dish.’
The Naab-Goosht (a clever nameplay of the Persian dish, abgoosht, which literally means ‘water-meat’) is a stew cooked with mutton, tomato paste, chickpeas, white beans, fresh tomatoes, potatoes and herbs in a claypot called dizi. The abgoosht is exposed to low heat in the oven for around three to four hours. If the broth level drops, the claypot is replenished with water and placed into the oven again.
How to eat?
1. Strain the abgoosht to separate the meat from the broth. The Iranian named this the ‘solid’ (meat) and ‘water’ (broth) approach.
2. Mash the tender mutton and remaining ingredients with a pestle until semi-smooth. Spread a layer on the naan and pop it in your mouth.
3. Tear up a piece of naan and toss all the pieces into the soup. Mix well and eat immediately.
Authenticity is what Naab has in spades. Note that the abgoosht is served with several sides: naan, pickles and a yogurt – mixed with water, dried mint and salt – called dough. Miss any of these items and you won’t be enjoying the full experience. The mashed abgoosht is rolled in a pliant naan so that all the harmonious components merge in every bite. We’re immediately buffeted by the piquant tomato paste, and every spoon feels like we’re feeding vitamin A directly into our system.
The hearty soup exudes a panoply of subtle spices and the hand-torn naan mops up the broth within seconds. Leave the dish too long and you’ll end up eating squishy crusts. The broth is warming yet light, and the mutton adds a certain meaty body to the stock. The chickpeas provided a consistent thickness the broth might lack and the result is a knockout dish for a chilly day.
Where to eat
Naab Restaurant, 130, Jalan Bukit Bintang, KL. For more info, see venue listing