Persian food in Stockholm

The best Persian restaurant in Stockholm

I absolutely love Persian food and many other similar cuisines from the surrounding countries. If I’ve time on my hands at home this is the type of food you’ll always find me cooking. First time visitors to Stockholm might imagine that the cold Northern European countries are a desolate wasteland of food from this area, but they would be oh so wrong! Let me share my favourite Persian restaurant in Stockholm, which is the true definition of a hidden gem.

Persian food in Stockholm

A typical dish from the Vanak menu

When I first moved to Stockholm I was staying in an apartment hotel in Akalla. This is an area which is in the northern suburbs, at the end of one of the blue metro line spurs. It’s not a particularly glamorous area in all truth (especially amongst native Swedes) but it’s close to Kista where all the IT companies have offices, it’s fairly convenient and it’s quite cheap to live in. (Since I lived there it’s probably also more famous for the fact that there were riots just down the road in 2013, but that a whole another story). The truth of the area is that it’s got a high proportion of immigrants or families descended from immigrants particularly from the countries around Iran. Sweden is a country which takes in one of the highest per capita ratios of immigrants in Europe and I’ve always thought this was a good thing, and in truth it’s one of the many reasons that I love the country. I’m going off on a slight political tangent here, but hopefully you get the overall point.

As an immigrant myself (although admittedly a white European one) I would always engage with others that I met that were in similar situations, I would often meet people from Iran or Iraq. This particular restaurant was described to me by a taxi driver I got talking to (we were both speaking Swedish, out second language in a slightly terrible accent) and it was a complete revelation. The irony was that despite living in Akalla itself I’d never noticed this restaurant as it’s completely hidden away at the bottom of a residential block. The first time I tried it I spent ages kicking myself afterwards about why I hadn’t discovered it sooner. The food is amazing, the pricing is reasonable, the people are amazingly friendly and you just need to go there as soon as you possibly can! It’s called Vanak and they have a lovely website here (swedish only) which gives a great account of their food and the general vibe of the place. It’s huge, and it’s always full of locals enjoying cheap healthy persian lunches. My personal favourite was the slow cooked lamb shank with lentil casserole for lunch, a bargain at less than 100SEK!

I’ll admit that the mainstream tourist might find this a bit out of the way and slightly off the beaten track. One might also be intimidated by the not entirely tourist nature of the area once you step out of the metro station, with lots of high rise blocks, but make no mistake, the area is lovely, the people are friendly and you shouldn’t let first impressions put you off. Go there, order some wonderful lamb dishes and revel in the fact that you have found a true hidden gem of Stockholm.

And in case you’re wondering, they’re fantastic with children, I took my youngest there when she was about 18 months and was welcomed with open arms, she ran around all over the restaurant, danced on their stage and generally caused mayhem and not an eye lid was batted. I’m salivating over the thought of having a “Baghalipolo Ba Mahiche” now….

home made sourdough pizza ready for the oven

Pizza lunch in Vasastan Stockholm

home made sourdough pizza ready for the oven

home made pizza ready for the oven

In an ideal world, I’d stay at home all the time and do cooking projects with my kids every day like this one. I love pizza and all such bread based projects and as you can see from this photo I love to make them at home with the kids. However the reality of life dictates that I do need to go to work, and as such I’d find myself in Stockholm, frequently in Vasastan, most weekdays looking for a tasty lunch.

Fortunately there are a myriad of great restaurants in that area, but one of my favourites would have to be the Haga Deli. This was always a popular choice with my work colleagues and it stood head and shoulders above many of the pizza and pasta joints which you find in that area.

I never actually ate there in the evening, although I’d  certainly consider doing so considering the quality of their lunch menu. You can pretty much eat like a king for 100 SEK but the thing that really seals the deal is the diverse quality of the food on offer.

You can get a really top notch Swedish style pizza and anyone would be happy with that. But in addition to that you get a great selection of salad included in the price and a some yummy foccacia bread well. If you’re not in the mood for pizza, then they have a full pasta menu of suitable quality as well. But my personal favourite, and the dish that always stood out amongst all my colleagues was the meat stew. They don’t shout about it on the menu strangely, but it was the secret joy of everyone who went there.

A deeply flavoured slow cooked beef stew with lots of lovely root vegetables and a tomato based based, which had plainly been made in the kitchen every day. Add to that some freshly cooked flat breads to mop up the lovely sauces and I’m salivating now at the thought of it. It’s a class above many other lunch options in the area, and well worth a visit.