This alternative festive dining experience is a refreshing change from regular Christmas feasts

Think Christmas feasting and roasted turkey, glazed ham, and log cakes come to mind. And if you have lined up several Christmas dining sessions with your friends and family, I’m pretty sure you’d be slightly tired by now.

If you’re looking for something absolutely different, consider Shabestan Singapore, which is offering a limited-time only menu created by Executive Chef Hany Moustafa, from 25 December to 31 December.

Focused on Persian classic dishes, the sumptuous menu comes with five courses that deliver on festive flavours.

Shabestan Singapore: Festive menu review

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The menu starts with the Salad-eh Adas (Beetroot Salad with Lentils), a hearty salad that is usually served on festive occasions. This features fresh beetroot, lentils, eggs, and is topped with Golpar, a Persian spice that is often known as Persian Hogwood.

When this dish was served, I have to say that I was rather overwhelmed by its striking red colour. While it looks festive, I am also a little wary of the amount of beetroot to expect. Beetroot is refreshing, but some of you have to agree with me that it also has a “earthy” taste that not everyone love.

Surprisingly, all doubts were cast away the moment I took my first bite. While it has the refreshing flavour that beetroot is known for, the spice and seasoning, as well as the taste of eggs, made the earthy taste of beetroot less noticeable.

This turns out to be a very hearty salad that I enjoyed and my companion absolutely loved and can’t get enough of.

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After the great start, we were served the second dish – Sambuseh (Persian Samosa).

Singaporeans known samosas, this tastes pretty much like the samosa we’re familiar with but is significantly more generous with its fillings. I liked its flaky pastry and just the right amount of spices that go into it. This is paired with Shabestan’s classic garlic yogurt sauce that cuts through the grease and makes it easy for you to have more of this delicious snack.

Then, we get to the mains: Shirin Polo (Persian “Jeweled” Rice) with Khoresht-e Kadoo Tanbal (Pumpkin and Lamb stew).

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Shirin polo is best known as Persian wedding rice, and is a traditional dish that is commonly served during special occasions – befitting of the menu’s festive theme. The colourful rice is slightly sweet, thanks to the generous amount of carrots and raisins in the dish. You’ll also find lots of onion and nuts in it.

While it already tastes pretty good on its own, it’s even better with the gravy from the stew.

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This stew is made with lamb that’s marinated and slow-cooked for three hours and cooked in a tomato-based sauce and tender chunks of pumpkin.

It’s the first time I’ve tried a lamb stew that’s cooked with pumpkin and dates. Its taste is quite unexpected at first but I think I quickly grown to like it. Every item in the stew was super tender and felt like it could melt in my mouth. This was a decadent dish that went very well with rice; I could have eaten a full bowl of rice with just the gravy.

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Finally, dessert was the Pomegranate Cheesecake, a three-layer cake made with fresh pomegranate. Its base is made of crushed biscuits, it has a milk-based centre, and a cream cheese top. The gorgeous colour of this dish is definitely a pretty way to end this festive meal and for those who have a sweet tooth you’ll certainly find it satisfying.

The Persian Festive Menu at Shabestan Singapore is priced at S$88++, available from 25 December to 31 December 2021.  Reservations can be made online.

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