I’m more than a little embarrassed to admit that in a game of word association, my response to the prompt 'Persian' would probably be 'rugs'. Or, depending on how much Bravo I’ve watched that week, maybe Shahs of Sunset. In any case, what does not readily come to mind is 'food'. But I have a feeling that will change the more I go to Kasra Persian Grill.
Even the most adventurous Houston diners may initially be put off or confused by the idea of a “Persian grill,” if only because, well, they’re not quite sure what and where Persia is. It’s a bit complicated, but basically “Persia” describes an area of the world we know as modern-day Iran. Peoples (note the plural) living in and indigenous to that area often describe themselves as “Persian” as opposed to “Iranian” because the former term encompasses a broader group of cultures than the former.
Persian food, and specifically that served at Kasra, is thus very much a blend of culinary influences and traditions. Appetizers, for example, include familiar Middle Eastern favorites such as hummus and eggplant dips like kashke bademjan as well as more dishes more specific to Iran, such as tah digh, a crispy rice dish flavored with saffron and tomatoes, and mast museer, a savory yogurt redolent of garlic and shallots.
Kasra’s specialties are organized by protein (beef, poultry, seafood) and priced differently for lunch and dinner. All main dishes are served with basmati rice, though I suggest you fork over a few extra bucks for a substitution, namely a more authentically Persian starch such as dill rice, sour cherry rice, or zereshk polo, a long grain flavored with barberries (now that’s a fruit you won’t see at Kroger). You can count on almost all the entrees to offer bold spices and complex flavor profiles, but for a true symphony of seasonings, I highly recommend the fesejan, a traditional Persian stew that mixes chicken tenderloin in a sauce made from saffron, walnuts, and pomegranate juice. Another terrific red meat option is the ghormeh sabzi, which mixes lemon, green onions, parsley, kidney beans, and fenugreek with tender cuts of beef.
More reserved dishes, at least in terms of taste, such as the shrimp or chicken kebabs and the grilled beef barg, are nonetheless satisfying and a good choice for the more conservative dining companion you may drag along with you to Kasra. Both of you will benefit from the complimentary, freshly baked taftoon, a bubbled flatbread served with feta, mint, parsley, radishes, and onions. It’s perfect for sopping up dips and residual meat juices and don’t worry if your first (free) serving doesn’t last you past appetizers; a second will only cost you $1.
My only selfish gripe with Kasra is that they currently do not deliver. A trek to Westchase, even in the heart of rush hour, is worth it, however, for Kasra’s fare is truly one of a kind in Houston.
Kasra Persian Grill
9741 Westheimer Rd
Houston, TX 77042