Diners can now enjoy Shabestan, an authentically Persian concept, at Lemon Tree Hotel Jumeirah. Inaugurated as one of the world’s first Persian restaurants in a 5-star hotel, Shabestan became iconic when it first opened its doors in 1984. Owned and operated by Galadari Brothers, the restaurant was one of the finest eateries in the region at the time. Now, more than 35 years later, the brand has opened its doors at a popular Dubai location.
To ensure that the restaurant reflects its original glory, the Galadari Food and Beverage Division has brought back Chef Ebrahim Nourouzi Cherati, one of the first chefs to head the kitchen at Shabestan. With its traditionally cooked dishes and ethnic ambience, the restaurant is surely going to be a treat for all food lovers.
There are big ambitions for the expansion of Shabestan throughout the country. “This is just the beginning,” said Suhail Galadari, Co-Chairman of Galadari Brothers. “We want to open up several branches of Shabestan all over the UAE. As a brand, we have a lot of faith in this restaurant, and we are sure people will really enjoy it.”
First opened at the Intercontinental Hotel in Dubai in 1984, the eatery became a household name due to the great quality of its food and their high level of service.
“Shabestan was really a golden feather in our cap when it opened,” said Mohammed Galadari, Co-Chairman of Galadari Brothers. “The brand is really special to us, and we are thrilled to be opening in Jumeirah. We feel like the new location will make it a lot more accessible to people in the newer parts of Dubai.”
“We have made sure that the food and services at this restaurant is of the best quality,” said Hesham Mir Hashem Khoory, Director, Galadari Brothers. “We want people who come to Shabestan to have a one-of-a-kind experience which will make them want to keep coming back.”
“We are delighted to add to the already vibrant dining scene of the UAE,” said Mohamed Yahya Kazi Meeran, Director and Group CEO of Galadari Brothers. “We are sure that people will be able to experience authentic Persian fare like they have never had before.”
“We have sourced some of the finest ingredients from around the world for the restaurant,” said Ahmed Osman, Chief Executive Officer - Food & Beverage Division at Galadari Brothers Group. “We want the authentic Persian flavours to shine through all our dishes.”
Diners are welcomed with a traditional Persian drink called Doogh. Geared towards group dining and enjoying meals with friends and family, the restaurant serves a special Persepolis feast that includes an array of chicken and lamb dishes.
Being one of the first Persian restaurants in the country, Shabestan quickly became the most popular place to eat at. “It became a place for Sheikhs, dignitaries, VIPs and celebrities when they came to the UAE,” reminisced Mehran Bastaki, General Manager of Shabestan. “Our fame travelled to different countries. People from all over the GCC would travel to Dubai just to eat at Shabestan. We once had someone send a flight from Qatar to Dubai to pick up a food parcel for dinner. That was the reputation Shabestan had.”
Guests can also enjoy a Shabestan Speciality Platter that brings together the best of the restaurant’s succulent lamb, seafood and chicken kebabs and condiments. All platters are served with three different kinds of rice- rice with saffron and berries, white rice and rice with broad beans and dill.
For the meat lovers, the Kebab Barre is a marinated rack of lamb that is seasoned with traditional Persian spices and grilled over a slow charcoal fire.
For those with a sweet tooth, Bastani Zaafroni, a Persian saffron ice cream is the perfect indulgence. Whilst Faloodeh, an age-old favourite Persian dessert has a flawless balance of crisp vermicelli blended with lemon and rose water.
Serving up the most authentic dishes and decorated with some of the finest furnishings and interior accessories, the restaurant aims to transport every diner to the glories of ancient Persia. “Shabestan is not just about the food,” said Mehran Bastaki. “It is about the ambience as well. We always try to make it more than just an eatery. When people come to Shabestan, we want them to feel like they have entered a cultural center that presents the culture and civilisation of Persia.”
Beautiful brass lights hang over the customized, handcrafted tables that have been shipped specifically for Shabestan from the city of Esfahan. A rich and beautifully hand-woven Persian carpet decorates the waiting area which also showcases traditional ornaments. Persian tableaus and paintings adorn the walls around the restaurant.
A private dining area allows groups to retreat and enjoy their food in absolute privacy. The melodious tunes and rhythm of Persian musical instruments Qanun and Daf transport diners into a happy and peaceful space as they tuck into some exquisite dishes prepared from the heart inside Shabestan’s fine kitchen.
I AM ALWAYS LEARNING: CHEF EBRAHIM NOUROUZI CHERATI
The executive chef of the restaurant, Ebrahim Nourouzi Cherati, first came to Dubai 37 years ago to head the kitchens of the first Shabestan when it opened at the Intercontinental Hotel.
“At the time we were unsure of whether we would get customers or not,” he recollected. “Because there was no eating out culture as such in the UAE then. However, when we opened, the restaurant was full for both lunch and dinner. Sometimes there would even be a queue. People queueing up to eat at a restaurant was unheard of in those days.”
As the name and fame of Shabestan grew, so did the reputation of its chef. Chef Cherati spent the next couple of years helming several Persian restaurants in different parts of the world. He has served everyone from royalty to celebrities over the four decades of his career.
“I had a very dedicated customer base,” he said. “There were people who would hunt me down and come where I was working at the time.”
Chef Cherati, who has served His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, more than four times during his long career, dreams of being able to serve him once again at Shabestan. “I am hoping and praying that he will come and eat the food I cook once again,” he said.
Every chef has different recipes and a different way of cooking. For Chef Cherati, it is important to maintain the standard of his cooking. “I source the best ingredients and use several cooking techniques to make sure that the taste profile remains the same,” he said. “For me it is important that if I serve you something today, no matter when you come back, the taste remains the same.
He also lives by the belief that the customer is king. “I always instruct my staff that if a customer asks for something, always say yes,” he said. “People have different tastes and preferences.. It is not right to say that you have to eat what I have cooked the way I have cooked it. So, when people say they want a little more salt or a little more seasoning, I am always happy to oblige.”
The food scene in Dubai has changed tremendously since the time he started in the UAE,and he thinks it is at its best now. “At the time Shabestan first opened, there was only one Persian restaurant but now there are such restaurants in every nook and cranny of the city,” he said. “There are so many cuisines available, so people have a huge variety to choose from. For diners, this is the best time to be in Dubai. I think that the variety and competition is good. However, I believe that if you serve people good food and treat them well, they will always come back for more, no matter how many other options they have.”
For him, there is no question about whether food is more important or service. “They are both equally important,” he said. “People will never forget the way they are treated and the taste of good food that suits their palate. I always speak to my customers and ask them for honest reviews so that I can fix something if they do not like it. I am always learning.”
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