Kuluck Persian Restaurant Is a Sensory Tour of the Arab World
On any given weekday during lunch, the intimate space at Kuluck Persian Restaurant is packed with a wide mix of people speaking in a cacophony languages, both familiar and foreign. Middle Eastern women with loosely wrapped head scarves chat in Arabic or Farsi, men in yarmulkes converse with their wives in Hebrew, sunburnt Canadian tourists in shorts and T-shirts discuss travel plans, and tables filled with men and women in business suits can be overhead hashing out contracts.
CandaceWest.com Hamid Shirdel, Owner and Executive Chef of Kuluck; Soltani (Beef & Filet Combo)
Layered over the din of the lunch rush are the rhythmic beats and poppy vocals of modern Persian music.
And then there's the fragrance: Bold exotic spices, like cinnamon, turmeric, and citrus, waft through the air. It's a mix of South Asian and Mediterranean aromas.
The sensory experience borders on the overwhelming at Kuluck, brimming with the sights, sounds, and flavors of one of the oldest civilizations on the planet.
Originally opened in Tamarac eight years ago as a restaurant and lounge catering to the South Florida Iranian community, with belly dancers and blaring Persian pop music, the venue was the brainchild of musician Hamid Shirdel, who was supposed to handle just the entertainment while his two partners handled the rest.
CandaceWest.com The beef and fillet combo.
As is frequently the case, plans changed, and Shirdel took over the entire operation. Fortunately, the guitarist and keyboardist, who was used to organizing festivals and nightlife events, grew up with a penchant for cooking and a finely tuned palate. He quickly began incorporating recipes passed down from his mother and grandmother and eventually moved the spot to its current location in Plantation.
It's now a true family-run restaurant: Shirdel's father is often seen greeting customers while Shirdel's kids serve tables.
For lunch, the restaurant serves a buffet that offers a range of traditional Persian dishes for $11.95. It spans from hummus and stuffed grape leaves to Basmati and raisin rice to chicken and beef kebabs to Persian stews like khoresht ghaimeh.
A flavorful mix of beef and yellow split peas in a fragrant red sauce, khoresht ghaimeh is scented with turmeric, cinnamon, and ground dried lime. It is traditionally topped with French fries, and Kuluck's version is offered just so for dinner, though the lunch buffet includes several other authentic stews.
Another customary option is ghormesh sabzi. Known as beef and green herb stew, it combines the same ground lime (along with cinnamon and turmeric, it's ubiquitous in Persian cuisine) with beef and kidney beans. Flavored with parsley, green onion, and shallots, it's fresh and savory.
With a consistency that's slightly thinner than an Indian curry, these dishes take several hours to cook.
"Persian food is patient," says Shirdel. "The recipes went from my grandmother to my mom to me. She could always tell if something was done according to taste; I had to figure out how to write out the measurements for the restaurant. I can tell if a step was missed as soon as I taste it. Food is like music; the ingredients can be the same, but it's about how you put it together."