This is a biased blog post, from a devout fan of Café OTO. Hearing Khaira Arby, the Malian “nightingale of the north” perform at the venue was a highlight of Eat Hackney’s existence. The melancholy minor-key carols arranged by Bill Wells for last year’s Christmas party were brilliant. Regular sax player Shabaka Hutchings is a star. And Cafe OTO just got even better, now that Soli Zardosht is cooking up Persian-inspired lunch there on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.
After working as menswear designer, Soli decided to work on her other passion: food. While Soli is inspired by traditional Persian cooking, her food is a contemporary and personal take on the meals she ate growing up in the Middle East. Her signature dish is saffron and orange chicken, delicately scented and flavoured – another defining feature is that this is very pretty food, from multicoloured salads and saffron kookoo dotted with black onion seeds to stuffed dates scattered with rose petals.
Soli set up a stall at Broadway Market four years ago, which has become one of the street’s most popular foodie stops on a Saturday. And she is happy in her new collaboration with Café OTO, cooking up soups, street food, meat mains and frittatas for music fans Friday to Sunday (12-4 pm). Attractive dishes, prepared with thought and care… Zardosht is providing a fine Persianesque accompaniment to Cafe OTO’s musical food for the soul.
Here is Soli’s recipe for saffron & yoghurt potato kookoo, a fixture on her market stall. Another version of this dish – kookoo sabzi – was given to Eat Hackney by Sally Butcher who runs deli Perseopolis. For more Persian food try Sabrina Ghayour‘s enticing bejewelled rice and spiced citrus roasted poussins.