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Miraj Healthy Grill

Patrons eat at Miraj Healthy Grill, a Persian

Patrons eat at Miraj Healthy Grill, a Persian restaurant in Williston Park. (June 12, 2010) Credit: Yana Paskova

The words "healthy" and "grill" in its name mark this new Persian restaurant as a destination for the diet-conscious. While it's true that grilling is a more healthful choice than, say, deep-frying, the real allure of Miraj is gustatory.

The cuisine of the land now known as Iran is rich in comforts - exotic rice dishes, hearty stews and savory kebabs. If some of these happen to be healthful, then so much the better.

PERSIAN PLEASURES

 To start, bright green spinach is sauteed and topped with yogurt, fried onion and garlic in the winning dish called spinach borani. Both the hummus (chickpea dip) and baba ghanoush (smoky roasted eggplant) make for superior spreads. Not quite in sync with the name of the restaurant are samboosehs, crisp, deep-fried turnovers with a savory vegetable and chickpea filling.

A long-stewed lamb shank turns out ultra-tender, bathed in a sauce redolent of Middle Eastern spices. The dark, delicious stew called khoresht ghormeh sabzi features beef, vegetables, kidney beans and dried lemon.

It's hard to beat perfectly grilled marinated lamb chops for the price of $14.95. Kebab tikka (spicy grilled cubes of beef) comes up gorgeously rare and juicy, boldly seasoned. Although juheh kebab (Cornish hen) is a trifle overcooked on one visit, it's ideal the next time, served alongside zereshk polo, saffron rice with berries and raisins. The confusingly named "adas polo with chicken" has Cornish hen instead, plus rice mixed with braised lentils, onions and raisins. While it's not on the menu, you can ask for the side dish called tadik, made from the crunchy bits of rice on the bottom of the pot topped with a rich lentil stew. Rice pudding and heady Persian tea make for an appropriate conclusion.

 

PERSIAN PROBLEMS

 

Good dips deserve better than thin pita that's reheated until dry. And I wish my well-meaning waitress were a bit more informed about the food she's serving.

 

MONEY-SAVING TIPS

 

Two prix-fixes, $9.95 at lunch and $11.95 for an early-bird dinner, keep tabs way down.

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