Shamshiry Chelo Kabob

Written by on April 30, 2011 in I Eat America, I Eat...Out with 0 Comments

( – Tyson’s Corner, Virginia

How I heard of this place: My sister, Mojgan, first introduced me to Shamshiry, and it quickly took first place for best Persian kabob served at a restaurant! Each time I would visit her in Arlington, Northern Virginia, we would venture out to Tyson’s Corner for a take-away order of kabobs and rice. Tonight, after years away, Andra suggested it as a post-fasting dinner spot.

Kabob Grill

Type of cuisine: Traditional Persian fare: plenty of rice, either white with saffron-infused grains atop or with a combination of fresh herbs, served with a side of grilled ground beef, filet mignon, or boneless chicken. Other dishes include stews with beans, meat and fresh herbs, pomegranite sauce with walnuts, as well as beans and tomato sauce, among other options. The fresh herb rice is also served with grilled salmon and coo-coo sabzi (a quiche-like patty of fresh herbs and egg).

Ambiance: The restaurant is found in a somewhat corporate-seeming building, on the ground floor of the executive park. The small space is enhanced in size by the floor to ceiling mirror at the far end of the establishment, opposite the floor-to-ceiling windows at the entryway.


Chairs and tables, covered in white linen are crammed together in the small space, as diners and wait-staff squeeze their way through to find seats and serve patrons. Wire sculptures from the Dominican Republic line the shelf along the left side wall (from entrrance), and thick, plastic tie-dyed bowls and plates are set at each table for the bread and butter. Warm pita bread, cut in triangles and placed in a small Ziploc bag are set in a black, plastic basket, and small packets of butter in a tie-dye-colored bowl are at each setting.

Noon o Paneer

A large pitcher of water, a carafe of warm, Persian black tea ($1.99) and a small jar of sugar cubes are also available (for ordering). “Tea is the national drink of Persia and as soon as visitors step over the threshold, a small glass of tea with three lumps of sugar and a teaspoon are handed to them. Persians serve tea in a glass in order to be able to appreciate its color. The color and fragrance of the tea is very important to Persians since they believe the pleasures of sight and smell come before that of taste. It is always served very hot.” Square, plastic, Mexican-themed plates, that hardly fit three per table without bleeding off of the table edge are used to serve the moutain of food in each order. A busy, bustling space, with eclectic, mismatched paintings and artwork lining walls and shelves around the space, make this a truly special in-house dining experience.

What I ordered: Before beginning a two-week 100% raw foods diet, one dining companion and I selected Shamshiry as a perfect final meal before the cleanse. Additionally, our two companions wanted to sample a good Middle Eastern restaurant – that I had discovered in the one week since I moved to Arlington. While it doesn’t count as having been justdiscovered, it was definitely a place my foodie companions needed to try! We started with a large pitcher of doogh ($7.99), “This delightfully refreshing yogurt drink is very popular in Persia. It is always on hand at home to serve to family and guests. Vendors who sell Doogh on street corners are familiar sights. Very often they advertise their products with a poem or two from Omar Khayyam and replace Omar’s “jug of wine” with a “jug of Doogh”, in order that our first-timers could consume a very typical Persian beverage, at the recommendation of one in our party who likes the taste of yogurt and mint, diluted with club soda. For dinner, we had one order of the Chelo Kabob Kubideh ($9.99).

Koobideh Kabob

Kabob is the Persian word for meat or fowl cooked over a charcoal fire. There delicious strips of charcoal broiled ground meat are served with a snowy mound of rice topped with saffron. All the beef dishes achieve greatness when you add a raw egg yolk on the side, which you rapidly pour into the hot rice, continuing to toss it so that the egg coats all the grains as the heat cooks it. Stir in as much butter as you dare, and sprinkle in the brown powdered sumac that’s in a shaker on the table. It’s tart spiciness is irresistible.” The two women at our table, ordered the Chicken Soltani, a combination of chicken kabob and kubideh ($14.99)

Joojeh Kabob

I requested a half-order of white rice and a half-order of Baghali Polo (at an additional $3.50), “This fragrant and devastatingly delicious dish is made with dill, a most delicate herb. Persians have favored dill for many years and use it in many dishes. One of the more famous and extremely tasteful dishes is Baghali Polo, where dill is used in combination with rice and soft good tasting fava beans. It’s a treat you will want to share. The rice, which comes with the salmon, is tinted an intriguing greenish beige and seductively flavored by dill, and soft delicious fava beans. You’ll fancy, love, and delight in this meal. Some say it’s spectacular.” The fourth in our party ordered the Chelo Kabob Barg ($14.99), “The finest of all Kabobs is Kabob Barg. The secret of good Chelo Kabob is in the marinating of the meat. There is an Old Persian tradition as to how one should eat Chelo Kabob. The proper way of serving it is to put plenty of Chelo on a plate, make a small hole in the center of it, put the egg yolk in it, then plenty of butter, and sprinkle sumac over it. Mix well and start treating your self to the elegant taste of Filet Mignon. Fine food at its best.” We also ordered a Mast-o-Musir ($3.50), “The Middle Easterners have known mast, now very popular in the western world as yogurt, for centuries. It is widely believed to contribute to long life and good health. The unique tart flavors of the yogurt and shallots make for a delicious dish.” Mast-o Khiar ($3.50), “Mast, known as yogurt in America, is used extensively in Persia. It is the food of the rich as well as the poor. It is said that Genghis Khan lived on it during his long marches throughMongolia and the Persian Empire when he couldn’t obtain other food. This yogurt appetizer is served with diced cucumbers, chopped fresh dill and other herbs.”

Raw Onions

And Salad Shirazi ($3.50), “tah digue. to enjoy with our .There is an Old Persian saying that it takes four people to prepare a salad: A generous man to add the oil, a stingy man to add the vinegar, a wise man to give the right touch of salt and pepper, and a fool to mix it well. Diced cucumbers, tomatoes, and onions mixed with olive oil, lemon juice, and seasoning provides a pleasant combination to prepare you for your dining experience”.Rice is the jewel of Persian cuisine. As with her art of miniature painting and poetry, Persia has carried the preparations of rice to extraordinary heights of refinement and perfection. Through a simple cooking process, the grains swell individually without sticking together. The result is a light, fluffy, and extremely tasty rice. After the rice is cooked, a layer of golden rice sticks to the bottom of the pan. This tasty, crisp crust is called “tah digue” and is as coveted here as the skin of the turkey at Thanksgiving dinner. The reputation of Persian cooks often rests on the quality of the “tah digue.” Complimentary with an entrée, when available.

Cooking Kabobs

What I loved: I always LOVE the food at Shamshiry. This was the first time I remember ordering and tasting the chicken kabob and I thoroughly enjoyed the marinated, juicy, tender beautifully butterflied morsels. The kubideh (ground beef), moist and buttery, accompanied by roasted tomato and the fresh, sliced onions served on the side of the each dish, area also a favorite of mine. The tah digue, though I prefer the potato and bread varieties, added a crisp, buttery finish to the meal.

Why I loved it: The food is consistently good, the portions huge and the flavors authentic. The bustle of the environment and the loud chatter, clinking and clanking of dishes add to the enjoyable experience.

Cost: Low to average ($9.99 – $16.99 per dinner entree)

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