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 also jam packed full of passion – for the food of Iran and its culture but also for the community in which Sally and her husband live, Peckham. She brilliantly conveys the message that, although Peckham gets a rough deal in some respects, it is still one of the most vibrant and buzzing communities in London – and I agree. After all, it is practically my manor – being just a short walk away.

I’m not the only one who is a massive fan of Sally’s recipes. Sam and Sam Clark of Moro fame are firm friends and fans. The first time I wrote about Persia in Peckham (a recipe for Persepolitan roast chicken), I also wrote about Moro East, completely unaware that the respective authors knew each other. Tuned in to some cosmic food energy maybe? My reason for visiting Persepolis on this occasion was for the final ingredient in a recipe I have been working on for years and one that I have finally, finally perfected. What is it? Well you will have to wait until next week to find out. I am going to bask in my own private glory until then. Of course, they had the ingredient. It was like slotting the final piece into a jigsaw puzzle and for that I am eternally grateful.

The shop, Persepolis, is exactly the same as the book in that it is like opening the door on an Aladdin’s cave. On entering, 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 these smoked sturgeon minding their own business in a quiet corner. The shopkeeper (Sally’s husband? sorry I forgot to ask your name amidst my excitement! Edit: Sally has since informed me that his name is Jamie/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.

I walked around the shop, frantically scribbling on a scrappy piece of paper, just to make sure I didn’t forget anything.The shelves are absolutely jam packed with all manner of spices, herbs and exciting jars of undiscovered foodstuffs.

There are dried fruits, including sour cherries (SO delicious), sour orange peel, figs, limes and seeds, including roasted and salted and black melon seeds, which I shall be rushing back to get my grubby little mitts on (visiting the day before pay day, perhaps not the best idea….).

I also want to stock up on some of the 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 all manner of legumes, lentils, dried herbs (sabzi) and mixes for falafels, pasta for ash-e-reshteh (a kind of soup) and reshteh polo (Iranian noodles).

All ingredients are offered up with a good dash of humour. This is exactly the kind of thing I love about shopping in small independent shops, the personal touch. You wouldn’t get that in Tesco now would you?

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
SE15 5DT
0207 639 8007

Persepolis is open from 10.35am – 9.59pm (yes really) – 7 days a week.

Category: Peckham, Shops 13 comments »

13 Responses to “Persepolis”

  1. Wendy

    Wow. I could spend a month in there. Yet again, I’m a little envious of your London life. Good grief! It feels wrong even writing that but it’s true! :)

    Wendys last blog post..Last Call

  2. Peter G

    Jeez! This is better than Aladdin’s cave Helen! What a shop! Can’t wait to see your “finally perfected recipe” next week. Look forward to it.

  3. Christie@fig&cherry

    Wow, you are so lucky to have this place nearby. I would love to get lost in there!

    I must admit though, I was confused when I saw your title in the feed reader and thought you were reviewing the animated film that’s just been released with the same name (it’s brilliant) and thought you were branching out into film review!

    Christie@fig&cherrys last blog post..Mini caprese salads

  4. Y

    What a great store. It has so much personality! :)

    Ys last blog post..Daring Bakers Challenge : Lavash Crackers

  5. aforkfulofspaghetti

    I got a bit stuck on the pics of those gorgeous sticky pastries… I can eat those things by the bucketload. Probably a good job I don’t live in Peckham!

    aforkfulofspaghettis last blog post..that breakfast at Cafe Paradiso…

  6. We Are Never Full

    wow… i just got envious! but we’ll be in in london to visit my new grandson in a few months so maybe I can take a trip over there to check this amazing store out. great pictures… so colorful. i want a tagine from there!

    We Are Never Fulls last blog post..Top Five of the Month: Crisps/Potato Chips & A Giveaway.

  7. Johanna

    looks an amazing shop – and your comments that you could find dried sour cherries there make me feel a fool for not trying to find them in all the wonderful middle eastern shops near me – will be searching there soon!

    Johannas last blog post..Fridge Door Confessions

  8. JennDZ_The LeftoverQueen

    I am so …well…jealous, really. Helen. your posts of late are making me think I need to visit London very soon! There are just such wonderful hidden food gems basically everywhere! This shop looks like an absolute dream come true!

    JennDZ_The LeftoverQueens last blog post..Daring Bakers: Za’atar Spiced Lavash Crackers with Spicy Walnut Dip and Cilantro Chutney

  9. Helen

    Wendy – You make me laugh! I am a little envious of your Scotland life!
    Peter G – Aha! Tempted you have I? I am so happy with the recipe!
    Christie – I had absolutely no idea….
    Y – it certainly does – the people that own it are lovely :)
    Spaghetti – Come down and visit – we will go pastry eating together.
    We are never full – Oh please do! It is such a fantastic place. just make sure you have enough time for a chat.
    Johanna – yes, try them in your granola if you like that kind of thing
    Jenn – Oh go on, you know you want to come visit!

  10. Nicisme

    You really know how to make a girl jealous don’t you?

    Nicismes last blog post..Jammin’ with British Scones and Clotted Cream!

  11. urbanfoodie

    Ooof what a place, I’m already drooling over the thought of sour cherries and all those spices. Thanks for sharing

    urbanfoodies last blog post..Chard and Feta Omelette

  12. Andrew

    A place i have longed to visit… one day I shall make the long trek from out here in the country. Hope to share some of those lovely looking pastries too!

  13. Sheetal

    haha..The ‘10.35am – 9.59pm’ made me chuckle! just so…British!

    I miss London–and its little hidden treasures…

Leave a Reply

Back to top