The original Padideh Shandiz is located in Iran’s north-western holy city of Mashhad, although a Tehran branch opened in April 2010. Padideh Shandiz is known for its vast main hall, recreating the experience of dining in a grand garden. Padideh Shandiz (Tehran), Farahzadi Boulevard (inside Arikeh Iranian complex),
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Jahangir Razmi, now 64, took one of the most famous pictures associated with the Iranian revolution in 1979 – but until 2006 nobody knew he was the photographer. The editor of Ettela’at newspaper, who published it, decided not to use his name, concerned about the repercussions. “Firing Squad in Iran” won the 1980 Pulitzer Prize for Spot News Photography – the only time the award has gone to an unidentified person. Razmi is still a photographer and lives in Tehran. For his last meal he opts for a Shandiz kebab in northern Tehran, the affluent part of the capital.
The Shandiz kebab is named after a region in Mashhad. It consists of a generous portion of succulent onion and saffron-marinated lamb chops, skewered and charbroiled. The kebab is served with vegetables, salad, yogurt and pickle side dishes. It can also be accompanied by rice.
Bread of heaven
One of the most renowned traditional breads in Iran – and arguably the most popular – is sangak, a lighter alternative to the buttery rice commonly served with the country’s kebabs. Made from mostly whole-wheat sourdough, savvy kebab joints serve grilled meat in between two slices of sangak flatbread – the top slice keeps the meat warm while the bottom slice collects the dripping meat juice.
Sangak is said to have been created during the Sassanid dynasty that ruled over the last pre-Islamic Persian Empire, prior to the Muslim conquest in the seventh century. On orders of the court doctor, sangak was baked on a bed of stone to nourish an ailing king and, to this day, it is prepared in special bakeries and baked in a large hole in the wall over hot pebbles.
Even if it often means queuing for half an hour in front of their local bakery, Iranians like to eat sangak freshly baked that day. For special occasions people order a family-sized portion that can be over half a metre long, topped with an extra amount of sesame seeds.