So here is another review that is a long, long time overdue. I have been cooking from Sally Butcher’s book, Persia in Peckham (Sunday Times cookbook of the year) for over a year now and it remains one of my favourites. For those of you not familiar, the book contains not only some incredibly exciting recipes, but is packed full of info about the food of Iran and its culture. There’s also a lot of love for Peckham. Although we get a rough deal in some respects, this is still one of the most vibrant and buzzing communities in London.
The shop, Persepolis, is exactly the same as the book in that it is like opening the door on an Aladdin’s cave. You are greeted with bright colours, floor to ceiling excitement, exotic ingredients crammed into every nook and cranny. Intoxicating smells waft across from the huge selection of sweets and baklava in the window display.
I spied smoked sturgeon minding their own business in a quiet corner and Sally’s husband Jamshid explained that this Iranian delicacy is traditionally eaten at New Year, fried or steamed and served with herbed rice (usually dill). Apparently it is delicious but is incredibly salty, so you therefore only need a very small piece.
There are dried fruits, including sour cherries, sour orange peel, figs, limes and seeds, including roasted and salted and black melon seeds. There are exotic teas, along with dried flowers – chamomile flowers, rose buds and ‘green flowers’. Time to start working out what to do with them. You can also buy legumes, lentils, dried herbs (sabzi) and mixes for falafels, pasta for ash-e-reshteh (a kind of soup) and reshteh polo (Iranian noodles).
Food isn’t the only reason to visit Persepolis though, you can find tagines, rugs, hookahs, tea sets, books, ‘I love Peckham’ stickers, shoppers, t-shirts and even greeting cards. Yes, greetings cards, specially commissioned with a unique Peckham stamp.
This is what makes Persepolis special, not only do the owners keep their shelves stocked with the most dizzying array of ingredients, they are a true local shop. Sally is a passionate and active member of the Peckham community, hosting story-telling evenings, promoting local events and artists and even producing a newsletter to keep us up to date on the whole lot. Yes, Peckham has its problems but Sally does what many others don’t and that is highlight the positives. The community is a proud, diverse and vibrant one and Persepolis is right at the heart of it.
28-30 Peckham High Street
0207 639 8007
Persepolis is open from 10.35am – 9.59pm (yes really) – 7 days a week.