I have to admit that when I was first invited to try a new Persian food restaurant in Madrid, I had my doubts. Until then my knowledge of Persian food was very limited. But if there is something that I love it is trying new things. So of course, I accepted.
Banibanoo describes itself as a restaurant offering Persian market cuisine. It is owned by a young woman named Banafsheh who, after working six years in marketing, decided to pursue her dream of becoming a chef and restaurant owner. One day she left her job and went to London to study in Le Cordon Bleu School. Upon returning to Madrid, she discovered that Iranian food was little known in the Spanish capital. So she decided to open her very own restaurant where people could enjoy these wonderful dishes.
The name of the restaurant is also very personal: Bani is short for her full name Banafsheh and Banoo means Miss. So Banibanoo means Miss Bani.
The restaurant is small and cozy, perfect for a fantastic meal with friends or with your partner. Apart from the food, what I love the most about Banibanoo is how bright it is and that the food is on display at the bar. That way, you can see all the food they serve before you order. It also has an intimate and familiar feeling, as if you were entering a market and wanted to eat something from a particular stand.
According to Banafsheh, Iranian shares a lot in common with Mediterrean cuisine; the ingredients are all very similar. But for me, each dish at Banibanoo tastes unique and exotic, for the mixture of flavors and variety of ingredients on each plate.
Banibanoo offers a simple menu, consisting of traditional and original dishes, all made with fresh ingredients and a lot of love. If you’re the kind of person who struggles when it comes to ordering, no problem. At Banibanoo you have the option of choosing a menu with three different dishes on one plate. Banafsheh likes to change up the menu every two weeks, offering different recipes along with the old ones. Banibanoo also offers wonderful breakfasts. On Saturday and Sunday, for example, she offers a very special breakfast that will be the highlight of your weekend: a “burnt” brioche bun with cream cheese and jam.
When I went for lunch with two friends, Banafsheh suggested we try out different dishes so we could all share. I have to say that was a fantastic idea. The first three dishes we tried were: broccoli with roasted cherry tomato in a yogurt sauce and tahini; beetroot hummus with feta cheese and hazelnuts; and gourmet purple potatoes with yogurt sauce, cherry tomatoes and cardamum.
For the second place, we ordered: sweet potato with red onions, yogurt sauce, almonds and pomegranate seeds; couscous with cheese, mint sauce, cilantro and parsley; and Kuku Kadoo: zucchini ‘frittata’ with mint and cheese.
Our last plate included: roasted beets with cherry tomatoes, feta cheese and a pomegranate and Sumac sauce; Shirin Polo, Persian rice, saffron, orange zest, carrot and pistachio (this was one my favorite, amazing!); and Kuku Sabzi: similar to a ‘frittata’ with herbs, walnuts and cockles.
For dessert we had an incredible carrot cake (really, please try it!) and a brownie-like chocolate cake. Also delicious.
All this feast of food could only be accompanied by a typical Iranian drink, infused with cucumber, flowers and other refreshing ingredients. How can you describe something that tastes so good? They now have two different drinks based on this one: One is call Tejebin: The same drink but with tea and Cafejebin: The same but with coffee.
What can I say? If you want to enjoy healthy and traditional food with an exotic taste, this is your place! Fantastic Recommendation – thank you Jose and María for taking me to this wonderful place.
Address: Calle Martires Concepcionistas 19, Madrid
Price: €12.95, 3-dish menu plus coffee and drink during the week; €13.95 During the weekend, without drinks; Breakfast goes from €2.50 with coffee or tea to €5.50.