Food Blog | Cooking Blog
From 7:30 am to 7:30 pm, the Din Din Kitchen offers Holborn and the surrounding area an insight into the undiscovered world of Persian food. With the choice of eat in, take away and high speed delivery, it is no surprise that the eatery has taken the office scene of WC1 by storm. It brings something unique to the concept of lunch à la desk, mainly the opportunity to sample new and exotic foods whilst enjoying a perfectly convenient, cheap and affordable meal. The breakfast menu spans from conventional options - French pastries, morello cherry, honey and fig porridge pots - right the way down to paprika pomegranate hot egg pots and yogurt and mint flatbreads. There really is something for everyone, and it makes a refreshing and welcome change from the Pret a Manger esq staples that we all know a little too well. My sister (subsequently referred to as "Mini Me") and I went to sample some of the lunch/dinner options on a somewhat dreary Thursday evening, and although perhaps partially owed to our affinity for Middle Eastern cuisine (being half Lebanese), we absolutely loved every morsel of food we tasted. The Din Din Kitchen inspires a curiosity about Persian food, commercialising it and making it more readily accessible to passers by. The food is of an immensely high quality, lightly spiced and fragranced in ways that evoke the "I simply would have no idea how to try this one at home" reaction that is so rewarding when one has spend money on food. Highly recommended for a causal bite!
Everything is freshly prepared, astonishingly good value and extremely quick and easy. We ordered our food, and within no more than 3 minutes the eating had begun. What was more, the menu seemed to be extremely flexible. Requests for recommendations were met by "what do you feel like" and "what can we do for you". As is written on the wall of the eatery, the food really is prepared for you, just the way you like it. Almost clinically clean and minimalist in its decor, the Din Din Kitchen gives off an air of simple dining, where the focal point of the experience is the quality of the food and very little else. We were there to sample new and exciting flavours, fill our tummies and be out within the hour - and that is exactly what we did.
We begun with a selection of cold mezze pots, served with deliciously warm sesame seed Persian flatbread. Mini Me favoured a cucumber, raisin and mint yoghurt dip which was not entirely dissimilar from Indian Raita. It was creamy and thick with a subtle hint of dill and a strong seasoning of black pepper. This was a sign of things to come: the menu says one thing, but the dish brings along so much more. It describes three ingredients, but actually you can disentangle about eight different flavours. Simple, impressive and slightly perplexing to the curious customer. My favourite contained a chopped chicken, egg and potato salad which was tossed with fresh chives and a paprika seasoned mayonnaise. A classic, again with a somewhat unexpected twist. We also tried a deliciously smooth and fragrant aubergine and lentil salad and a cucumber, mint and tomato salad. With our knowledge of Arabic food, Mini Me and I established that the flavour combinations paralleled Lebanese mezze dishes, but seemed to take a step back from the potent garlic and onion flavour that seems to overwhelm a lot of Lebanese cooking, and took a step forward in the way of subtle spicing and use of herbs. Persian cuisine seeks to enhance the flavours of natural ingredients, it feels refined, and everything tastes subtle yet extremely complicated, whereas Lebanese cooking seems to go for more punchy combinations where the incorporation of strong flavours somewhat overwhelms the taste of the central ingredient.
Next, we tried two different types of falafel: a ground beef falafel and a courgette and chickpea falafel. They were warm and extremely soft on the inside, served with a chilli and paprika mayonnaise. Absolutely delicious, and strangely evasive of the tendency towards dry crumbliness that can sometimes make a falafel disappointing. They were beautifully spiced with thyme and again, each mouthful evoked confusion about how the harmony of subtle fragrances was coming together to give such an unusually multidimensional taste. At this sort of first course stage, I regret not sampling one of the traditional Persian soufflés which I am told are one of the Kitchen's best sellers. Chicken and lemon saffron, herb or aubergine, somehow whipped into a little pot of warm yum yum. Another reason for me to go back... When thinking about receiving a delivery of something as sophisticated as a lemon saffron soufflé, at such a low price, and on a dark and dreary afternoon, it is easy to imagine why cubicle bound workers in central London might be making orders of these delicious mezze dishes from the Din Din Kitchen.
Another regret was not sampling one of the Din Din Kitchen's stews (which varied from aubergine and tomato to beef, split pea and Persian lime) or one of their soups (I was particularly intrigued by the prospect of a sweet and sour pomegranate soup served with meatballs). Served in large pots, the stews and pots are typically accompanied by a portion of aromatic rice to constitute a very filling meal for one. The rice that we sampled was saffron, dill and barberries, infused with cumin. Sorry what? How can something so plain and boring be transformed so majestically? It was lightly dressed in olive oil, unbelievably clean tasting and roundly fragrant and with a layer of heat coming through from the cumin. Initially ordered as a side dish to accompany a meatball hot box, the rice dish immediately stole the show as the most impressive yet basic plate on the table. Simple, healthy, easy and absolutely jam packed with a beautiful combination of ethic flavours. The meatball hot box (served in a pot, as opposed to a wrap option) was similarly delicious, with tender herby meatballs suspended in a pool of incredibly rich tomato, aubergine and lentil sauce. For beef, the meatballs were surprisingly moist and relatively bouncy in texture. They were peppered with thyme, sage and rosemary and evenly combined with finely chopped onions to give a classically Mediterranean taste that was hugely complimented by the sweet tomato sauce. Meatballs and rice have never been so interesting.
Finally, we moved on to where I imagine the more time pressured (and marginally less glutinous) lunchtime customers begin their meal: the flatbread wraps. At this point, Mini Me and I really were hitting capacity and were concerned that we might be unable to stomach a selection of incredibly large sandwiches. However, the lightness of the wraps came as a welcome surprise and we were able to make just enough extra room... Although the sandwiches are undeniably large in size, the flatbread is wrapped in incredibly thin layers, and the bulk of the sandwich is actually constituted by its filling - which is an utter rarity in the majority of circumstances. The core of each wrap is action packed, featuring a flavoursome main ingredient embedded in a combination of numerous supporting acts. First, we went for the haloumi, avocado and mange tout wrap, in a flustered panic that the cheese would turn more and more rubbery with every second that passed. Curiously, it was perfectly soft, warm and as chewy as one might expect it to taste only seconds after coming off the grill. The mashed avocado was flavoured with lemon, pepper and a hint of sumac, combining with the clean tasting crunchy greens to provide the perfect compliment to the strong flavour of the salty cheese. Absolutely delish. Next, we went for the best seller - the chicken skewer wrap from the grill section of the menu. The cubes of chicken were infused with saffron, turmeric and cumin and garnished beautifully with a few sprigs of fresh coriander. Each half of the sandwich contained a generous 3 or 4 cubes, interspersed with finely chopped pickles, tomatoes and parsley. The absence of the immensely potent garlic sauce ("toum") that traditionally accompanies grilled chicken in any Lebanese dish enabled the other flavours from the sandwich filling to come through; it was fresh tasting, zesty and extraordinarily fragrant. This one was slightly more filling than the haloumi, but I imagine without the array of mezze pots, falafels and everything else we had already delved in to, a chicken wrap might leave room in the tummy for a Persian soufflé or cold mezze pot as an evening meal. The last wrap we sampled was a courgette, chick pea and falafel wrap, which I (rather judgementally) was less excited about, as I tend to be when anything lacks in meat or cheese as a focal point. Once more, I was wrong. The strong flavours from the warm falafel went beautifully with the rich tomato and aubergine sauce and the lightly cooked chick peas gave an extra crunch to each and every bite - lovely, although potentially lacking a couple of greens. My one regret of this course? Not having enough room to taste the goats cheese, caramelised fig, rosemary and paprika sandwich! The wraps were the perfect end to a truly astonishing meal; every dish hinted towards something unexpected. You see one thing, you get so much more. The Din Din Kitchen is a brilliant way to open your eyes to Persian cuisine, which might otherwise be reserved for those in the know who actively seek it out. The food is somewhat pedestrianised so as to resemble classics that we know and love, yet offers something completely different from any high street chain I have ever bought in to. A truly great find!