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February 20, 2019
Habits

Naaz on Pulteney brings Persian cuisine to the East End

In a joint venture from two Iranian couples, Naaz on Pulteney distills the culinary identity of Rasht - the largest city in Gilan Province, Iran and a UNESCO Creative City of Gastronomy.

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  • Words and pictures: Johnny von Einem

In a former dance studio on Pulteney Street, two couples – Mali Ershad and Omid Moghaddami, and Parivash Nezhad and Farhad Meshki – have opened Naaz on Pulteney – a restaurant that has formulated in Omid’s mind for over two years.

Originally from Iran, the couples had been looking to start businesses separately, but happened to meet via a mutual friend, the owner of the building they are now leasing.

Remarks

Naaz on Pulteney
260 Pulteney Street, Adelaide
Monday – Saturday: 6pm-10pm
For bokings contact naazonpulteney@gmail.com

It’s quiet in the room when CityMag visits, owing to the floating floorboards left from the previous tenants, but a day out from opening, there is a mixture of calm nervousness and excitement emanating from the group.

We enquire first about their collective history in the hospitality industry; Pari is a nutritionist with experience in catering – sometimes up to 12,000 dishes in a day, she says – but it is their joint Iranian heritage that has prepared them for this business.

L-R: Naaz on Pulteney co-owners Mali Ershad, Omid Moghaddami, Farhad Meshki and Parivash Nezhad.

“Iranians, we love food,” Pari smiles.

“Food and gathering and dancing, to enjoy the life and time, that is the main culture,” Omid continues.

“When you come to Iran, you can find plenty of people with similar experiences… Imagine if you are a host, for example, for 80 people. Ok, because you have to serve 80 people, then you can gain experience.”

Before moving closer to the city, Omid managed a farm in Beaufort, 100 kilometres north of Adelaide, where, once work was done for the day, there was little more to do than dream of future business endeavours.

“A lot of people told me, ‘Ok Omid, can you find a bakery there?’ I said, ‘Mate, you cannot find a tree. You’re talking about a bakery?’” he laughs.

The lease was signed and building commenced in mid-December, and Naaz’s menu has been in production since.

Iran is not a small country, Omid says, and there are several distinct cultures spread throughout. Naaz takes its inspiration from North Iran, where Mali and Omid are from, particularly the city of Rasht.

“Gilan is a province name, and the capital of Rasht is the biggest city in the Caspian Sea area, the shore,” Omid says.

“And because, by [UNESCO], Rasht has been recognised as [a Creative City of Gastronomy], because they have over 160 types of foods… Because of that, we thought it was a good idea to share recognition and beauty and food from that area.”

“You say platter, we say ‘sini,'” Omid says.

 

From such expansive source material, the group has distilled Rasht’s vast culinary culture into a concise menu, featuring rice dishes, casseroles, appetisers and a short-run wine and beer list.

“We’re planning to get people familiar to our cultural food, so they can get to know our culture,” Pari says.

“Usually people look for Chinese, Middle Eastern food, but they’re not familiar with Persian food, Persian cuisine… Australians like food, to taste new things, new cuisines, so we are planning to introduce our cuisine as well.”

For now, it’s only the two couples running the restaurant, but they hope to employ some help once the restaurant is established.

Throughout our interview, Niknaaz, Mali and Omid’s baby girl, and the namesake of the restaurant (“Naaz means ‘cute’ or the highest level of beautiful,” Omid says), giggles and squeals into the conversation. Another aim for the group is to create a welcoming and family-friendly atmosphere.

“We have children, we are couples, so if we want to go somewhere, we are looking for a place like this, a family-friendly place to go with our children,” Pari says.

“And we want to keep the quality high, with ingredients and cooking methods, so we hope [Adelaide] will be pleased.”

Naaz is open 6pm-10pm Monday to Saturday. To book, reach out to naazonpulteney@gmail.com.

Chickpea biscuits. Yes, please.

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