The Asal Sweet store in Merrylands is a satellite store to the hard-to-find Granville parent. It's been open for about nine months, and is a family business, building upon twenty-five years of pastry experience in Tehran, Iran.
Their well-stocked counter is full of traditional Iranian shirini khoshk (dry sweets) and French-influenced shirini tar (moist sweets). This particular store specialises in cookies and the shirini nargili (coconut cookies) are amazing!
They look like they’re going to be quite hard, but you’ll find they have moist centres. You’ll also find almond, saffron and sultana versions, all priced at a buck apiece, but it’s the coconut macaroon-style cookies that won me. Though if you're allergic to wheat, ask for naan berenji - they're a rice-based cookie, that's turned yellow with saffron (a typical Persian ingredient).
My Asal Sweet trial comes courtesy of Taste Food Tours, as this is the meeting point for their new From Afghanistan to Persia tour. What these tours are good for is giving you some back story into how products are used – which can be invaluable when visiting places like Pameer Supermarket.
“I’m a mad home cook, but because I live in a small town in the Hunter Valley, I come to Sydney two or three times a year to buy ingredients,” said Nicole, a fellow tour attendee. She’s a repeat Taste Food Tours customer, who uses the tours as a way to introduce herself to suburbs she doesn’t know very well.
Nicole uses the opportunity of our Pameer Supermarket pit stop to load up her basket, and I do the same.
This Persian supermarket has a halal butcher and a great range of products. I pick up everything from carrot jam (a great cheese condiment) to garlic powder, tins of fried eggplant and a big tub of tahina and halawa.
The latter is a sweet treat that tastes like halva but is in long strands that look like dolly hair. I'm excited to buy torshi bandari - a sour and spicy Iranian mixed vegetable pickle that you can add to stews, hotpots and meat patties.
The rest of my haul includes mint water (I’ve been making summery drinks with it) and black cumin oil. The Prophet Muhammed is reported to have said: “In the black seed is healing for every disease except death.” All health claims aside, this oil is delicious on baked pumpkin and spuds. And while they're not particularly exotic, this supermarket has some great specials on vegetables! We picked up a $7 box of tomatoes and made litres of tomato water, tomato sauce and pasta sauce.
NOTE: Read more of my Merrylands eating adventure HERE, HERE, HERE, HERE & HERE or book your own eating adventure HERE.
4 Memorial Drive, Merrylands
Ph: (02) 8810 7162
223-225 Merrylands Road, Merrylands
Ph: (0406) 311 111