The Persian Food festival at Aloft Hotel in Coimbatore presents signature kebabs and desserts

An evening that begins with Simon and Garfunkel playing in the backdrop has got to lead somewhere good; even if the American musicians have little to do with the Persian food on offer at Aloft Hotel. We’re welcomed with sharbate-e-khakshir, a beer-yellow drink with swollen basil seeds floating in it.

Scalding hot chicken soup with diced turnip follows. “It’s a basic broth soup made of a tomato base, spiced with pepper, cumin and mint,” explains chef Balaji. The soup is complemented by a light salad of lettuce, cucumber and tomato.

Soon enough, we move onto a main course of kebabs. The set festival menu changes every alternate day. For this evening, there are four varieties of kebabs served with pita bread. Up first is chicken koobideh, accompanied by its mutton version. It’s essentially minced meat, well packed and grilled just right.

There’s also kebab sultani and a chicken shawarma, both of which feature chunks of chicken marinated with spices and lime and served with onion and coriander. For the seasoned Indian palate, not much on the kebab front is new. It’s comfortably familiar territory upto the kashk e bademjan dip, a lovely airy concoction of eggplant, pockmarked with pomegranate seeds.

For vegetarians, there’s dolme felfel (zucchini stuffed with rice), tossed vegetables and shawarma. The main course also features saffron rice served with eggplant and chicken stew, the latter flavoured suspiciously similar to the soup.

Dessert is where the meal gets interesting. We open with apricot tart, a two-tiered rocky affair sandwiching soft cream. There’s also sholezard, a rice pudding. But what takes the cake is ghotaab — a crumbly, cookie-like crust chock-full of almond pounded into submission.

The festival is on for lunch and dinner till April 21. It is priced at Rs. 700 (non-vegetarian) and Rs. 550 (vegetarian). Taxes are extra. For reservations, call: 0422-665 6000.