Bandar Bride Special Kabab is one of the last in a dying breed of old school Iranian eateries and kabab houses which once dotted the Deira and Bur Dubai culinary scenes. Affectionately known throughout the dwindling Iranian community as Aroos-e Bandar, this little-known cafeteria is hidden in the alleyway behind the CBD building on Baniyas Road. Its interior is a collection of afterthoughts dominated by shoulder height juice and cash counters which leave little space for the three or four tables, each surrounded by beautifully nostalgic swimming pool blue plastic chairs. In typical pot-luck canteen style, I love that you could end up sitting beside a doctor or a Pathan, a merchant or a laser printer. Sadly, on the Friday morning I visited Aroos-e Bandar for breakfast I had absolutely no one to sit beside. Thankfully, that gave me the unique opportunity of chit-chatting with the staff – an impossibility on a busy weekday.
If there is one dish Aroos-e Bandar is most famous for it is their Aush (sometimes transliterated as ash, aash, or āsh); a hugely popular herb-based soup (or potage), the roots of which can be traced back to Zoroastrian Persia. And just so you appreciate how significant Aush, which simply means “thick soup” in Persian, is to Iranian cuisine – the word “cook” translates to “Aushpaz” in Persian and literally means “a person who cooks aush”. Similarly, the word “kitchen” translates to “Aushpazkhaneh”: the combination of words “Aushpaz” and “Khaneh” which means house. Aush is also found in Afghan, Azerbaijani, Caucasian, and Turkish cuisine. Obviously, there are dozens of different versions of Aush – Aroos-e Bandar’s is thick and hearty to the point of almost being like Haleem – it’s delicious and one of the best in town – note, ONE of the best, not THE best.
In addition to Aush, I also ordered some sauteed liver and an omelette – a bit of an overkill, I’ll admit, but it’s not every day that I get to pig out like this. If you’re into offal, the liver is worth a try although you must remind them not to over cook it. In this instance, the kitchen missed my memo and my Jigar arrived far north of how I like it. That didn’t stop me from finishing every single bite-sized piece and mopping up the sauce with the last logma (mouthful) I made with the lavash flatbread which comes with each dish – yuuuuuuuuum! In total contract to the robust taste of liver fried with molasses (possibly pomegranate), the omelette was a simple affair, devoid of any form of seasoning or taste and best quickly forgotten. To wash it all down, I accepted some complimentary tea which was so heavily sweetened that my plastic spoon floated…
Aroos-e Bandar is renowned for its friendly, fast and furious service. I saw a completely different side to this usually rough and raw little eatery. Friday is obviously wash the whole place from top to bottom day, an event the entire staff participates in. Watching them I was reminded of the mine scene in Snow White and The Seven Dwarfs where each dwarf is busy performing a specific task, yet all are talking or singing at the same time. It was the same here, only the banter was in Khodmooni, Persian, Hindi, Dari and Pashto –– it was amazing and so representative of Deira, of the Creek, of this cauldron of cultures which is Dubai. Aroos-e Bandar isn’t the fanciest place, nor does it have the best kababs (or even aush for that matter). What it does have is an abundance of character and enough old school charm for you to give it a try if and when you’re in the area.
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Xerxes physically dines at, or orders from, each and every venue he reviews. He pays in full for whatever he and his companions eat, drink, take away or occasionally throw at each other. Xerxes accepts no money, gifts, discounts or free meals in return for reviews or favouritism. What you have read was NOT influenced in any way by the venue. Join his culinary journey on Instagram: @ravenousxerxes or reach out to him via email on firstname.lastname@example.org.