This afternoon, Judith and I wanted to eat lunch at Elimelech but when we arrived in Florentin, we were unfortunately met with a locked front door. Elimelech was closed. Our disappointment didn't last long. Luckily, just one block over, Florentin boasts a street lined with Persian restaurants. We looked for the most inconspicuous exterior, knowing full well that unobtrusive restaurants are always the best, not needing any fancy decorations to make a great dining experience. Misadat Salimi's disheveled facade won our hearts, and of course, this was the most crowded restaurants on the street.
Judith unassumingly ordered our food in Farsi, a woman whose Iranian pride emanates from her core. Within minutes, our table was filled with rice and kebabs and gondi. Since Persian cooking often relies on soaking, stewing, simmering, and sitting, Persian restaurants usually have food ready on the spot. However, fast service does not equal fast food. The time and effort needed to let the flavors of turmeric, saffron and herbs really seep into the meat and the rice make Persian cooking a product of deep attention, care and love.
One quick word on gondi. Judith is the real gondi expert, and I can't claim to understand the intricacy of these meatballs as well as she does. However, this characteristically Jewish Iranian comfort food really stood out amongst our feast and it would be a shame to let these go unmentioned. Gondi were created back in the Tehran ghetto, a Persian meat version of a matzo ball. These fluffy and moist meatballs are made of ground chicken and turkey, and left in their own broth, so there's really no chance for a dry or bland bite. Supposedly, this dish is one of the few that is solely a Jewish Persian invention, and have since become a point of pride for Iranian Jewish mothers across the world as the epitome of Jewish home cooking.
I highly recommend stopping by Misadat Salimi, and especially trying the Gondi. Transporting this authentic Persian cuisine to the back alleys of Tel Aviv truly speaks to the beauty of eating in Israel, a celebration of Jewish heritage across the world, bite by bite.