When you step into Ayda, the dingy entrance leads to a dimly lit restaurant with diwan seating. A vague attempt has been made at giving it a Persian touch. The thing is the décor looks like it last saw an upgrade when the Persians left the country. A small balcony with two tables looks over the chaos that is Church Street. Be a little adventurous and start your meal with the Kashk Bademjan. Grilled aubergine that is served with Kashk, a kind of whey that is mixed into the aubergine and the scooped up with naan. The cuisine bears a lot of similarity to the Mughal-inspired food that we are used to and so a wide range of breads and rice is on the menu. Another starter is the Bhaktiyari – flat kabab like portions of chicken and mutton with a unique marinade that are barbequed. These are served in long, flat sausage-like kababs on a platter and are deceptively light looking. The Zereshk Pulao is a platter of flavoured rice that comes topped up with a large chicken breast or leg. The Zereshk is a kind of dry fruit and this along with the saffron is what makes the dish a great one. The meat of your choice is served separately with a gravy and it is something you mix into the rice as you portion it out and eat. However, the rice itself is so flavourful that it barely needs anything to back it up.
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